Senior Living: Combining Hospitality and Healthcare for a Problem-Solving Approach

By Michael G. Tompkins Executive Recruiter, Hutchinson Consulting | July 22, 2018

Now that the Great Recession is in our rear-view mirrors, the hospitality industry is expanding from all sectors. Particularly, the spa sector has an unprecedented amount of momentum. Services that were once seen as luxury are now healing necessities. Teachings that at one point were viewed as "out there" are now mainstream.

According to the International SPA Association's (ISPA) annual U.S. Spa Industry Study, the number of spa visits in the United States rose by 2.5 percent, up from 179 million in 2015 to 184 million in 2016, marking the first time that spa visits have exceeded 180 million.

That number is only expected to grow. Many think this growth is because of the millennial consumer. As the largest generation on earth with $200 billion in buying power in the U.S., it's easy to claim the millennial market as the reason for spa growth. According to ISPA's Consumer Snapshot Research Initiative on Millennial Perceptions and Preferences, 60 percent are invested in their personal well-being, and 56 percent are spa-goers. Similarly, 70 percent say that, if they had some extra time or money, they'd spend it on health and fitness.

Millennials may view spa as mainstream, but their parent's generation brought the spa industry to the level it is today. In the 18 years since the ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study has been conducted, the number of spas has grown from 4,140 in 1999 to 21,260 in 2016. That five-times growth is because baby boomers recognize the proven health benefits of regular spa visits.

Emerging Opportunities Combining Hospitality & Healthcare

By 2030, nearly one-quarter of Americans will be over the age of 65, and almost half will be well beyond age 75, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This monumental shift in national demographics is driving change across practically every facet of the health care industry.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.