Experiential Travel and How Wellness Fits In

By David Stoup Chairman, Trilogy Spa Holdings, LLC | July 17, 2016

Authentic experiences and personal well-being have become increasingly important to the modern consumer, and hotels that provide an opportunity for travelers to maintain personal wellness not only engage their leisure visitors, but group guests and locals as well.

As many hotel spa and fitness facilities are seriously underutilized, a new type of spa dedicated to wellness allows a hotel to capture the growing number of health-conscious consumers searching for travel experiences that adapt to their personal needs. When executed properly, a hotel can leverage its spa/wellness offerings to reach beyond the hotel stay, extending the guest experience post-visit to create long-term loyalty.

Consumers are obsessed with combatting the negative effects age, stress and even frequent travel may have on their lives and overall well-being. Integrative Medicine physicians like Drs. Andrew Weil and Tieraona Low Dog advise that good health is the combination of four factors – sleep, exercise, nutrition, and stress relief. Hotels are the perfect venue to address each of these consumer need states, and in the coming years, the most successful hotels will feature programs specifically tailored to serve this growing desire among travelers.

Today's hotel guests are searching for properties that offer a comprehensive range of unique wellness choices that allow them to check out feeling refreshed, restored, and armed with knowledge that will allow them to live a healthier life. Most consumers have toyed with fitness, subscribed to an eating plan (diet), taken a yoga class and, in limited instances, experienced mind-body therapies like acupuncture. The challenge is access. There are very few locations beyond pricey destination spas – often found in geographically challenging locations with strict protocols (limited food choices, no alcohol, etc.) and minimum stay requirements – that consumers can experience a variety of wellness therapies under one roof, assured that the experience will be executed at a high level. These consumers are part of an emerging travel segment, referred to as "wellness tourists," who are boosting wellness tourism on a worldwide basis, leading to an estimated $675 billion market by 2017.(1) This traveler isn't just leisure-focused; they include a steadily growing segment of group guests searching for experiences beyond the traditional meeting or conference.

Hotel spa and fitness centers provide the ultimate setting for creating memorable wellness experiences. Spas are migrating away from solely offering pampering beauty treatments and are beginning to include activities that integrate authentic fitness and overall well-being options. These integrative wellness experiences connect with guests in meaningful ways that continue long after a guest has left the property. Hotels that effectively introduce these wellness programs are in the best position to grow RevPAR and increase their capture of this emerging wellness tourism segment.

Experiential Travel and Wellness

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.