Hotel Online  Special Report
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When Looking for that Brand ‘Differentiator’,
Don’t Overlook the Obvious
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Health and fitness are mistakenly taking a back seat to beds, baths, breakfast and business centers as the next “great guest service amenity” to drive guest loyalty and provide incremental revenues; Water workout stations are making a splash with guests young and old
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By Milton Velinsky and Steven Belmonte , March 2006

Probably one of the biggest buzz words in 2005 was “brand differentiation.” Everyone talked about finding the next great “guest-service amenity” that will make their hotel brand stand out from among the competition.

It’s hard to believe that the lodging industry was recently turned upside down because one hotel chain made the decision to put better beds in its guestrooms and market that product upgrade to the masses. Not surprising, it worked!

Why did it take so long for the hotel industry to realize that travelers were putting their heads into beds that weren’t comfortable? Could it have been the mounds of negative guest-comment cards stating: “Your mattresses stink – literally and figuratively?” The industry was so busy working to put “heads in beds” that they didn’t take into account the sore backs and arthritic joints that came along for the ride – a lumpy, painful and oftentimes stressful ride at that.

Hopefully, we learned our lesson:  “Don’t overlook the obvious.”

Get your feet wet

According to “Zagat Survey 2005 - Top U.S. Hotel and Restaurant Ratings”, guests ranked Fitness Centers as the No. 1 most important amenity when traveling for business, followed by daily newspaper delivery, frequent guest programs, wireless Internet connections and Club Level floors. 

Think back on the products and/or programs that you’ve see advertised recently to business travelers: free daily paper, travel reward programs and high-speed Internet access top the list. Who’s promoting their hotel’s fitness centers? 

Building new or updating existing fitness centers is an expensive undertaking – some properties invest upwards of $200,000 for single-property fitness center upgrades. For many of the independent hotels or those with limited resources, giving up a guestroom to use as a fitness center may take away valuable revenues. And let’s not forget the issues surrounding purchasing equipment and property liability. So, while business travelers may be demanding a fitness center, some simply can’t supply it . . . or can they?

Don’t overlook the obvious. 

Remember when offering “free bottled water” in guestrooms was a big deal – and even controversial? Water promotes good physical health, it’s a product that every traveler needs, and it’s easily obtainable and affordable. Why not offer it as a free amenity to guests? 

Every living thing or organism on Earth is mostly water. There is approximately 326 million cubic miles of water on our planet, with one cubic mile contains one trillion gallons of water. About 70 percent of Earths surface is covered by water. 

With so much water available to us, should we be charging our guests to drink it? That’s a separate issue.

What about all the water on your property that is just sitting there . . . the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that you treat and maintain, but remains underutilized . . . water that your guests can use at no charge to de-stress, relax and promote good physical health . . . the water in your swimming pool! 

No. The swimming pool is not the next great guest-service amenity. But, turning your underutilized swimming pool into a profit center by offering aquatics – or more specifically – by providing a low-cost, low-impact in-pool water workout station that produces high-usage rates and high guest satisfaction scores just may be!

Aquatics reduces travel stress

Studies show that travel induces fatigue and consequently can reduce a traveler’s business performance by almost 20 percent. Of the 405 million business trips taken ever year in the United States, approximately 40 percent of travelers develop headaches, back and neck aches or other physical symptoms due to travel-related stress.

A quick soak in the hotel pool can be the answer to making guests feel better. Exercising in the hotel pool, however, invigorates guests and helps them relieve their pains via increased blood flow and increased endorphins. Once relaxed, guests are ready for cocktails in the hotel bar, then dinner in the hotel restaurant, followed by a good night’s rest. Now that’s not only important – to some hotel companies it’s the key to building brand differentiation and brand loyalty.

In-pool exercise equipment is available to hotels for less than $1,200 per unit (or leased for less than $1 per day) and involves no more liability that a swimming pool ladder.  And, working out in a well-maintained, clean swimming pool is typically safer than working out in a hot, sweaty and potentially infectious exercise gym. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 183,722 injuries are attributed to fitness and exercise machines each year, representing the sixth-largest cause of frequent injury in the United States.  In addition, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports states that 85 percent of senior citizens in the U.S., joining most other demographics, do not exercise as much as they should. 

However, the President’s Council goes on to say that some seniors have made staying in shape a social affair. Many have taken to meeting at health clubs for daily workout sessions and other activities like water aerobics classes. Participants say it's the social interaction that makes these sessions fun.

If seniors are looking for a place to meet and get in shape, why not offer your swimming pool (which may sit vacant during early morning or afternoon hours) to local seniors as a place to meet and “get physical?” Then you can provide a healthy breakfast or lunch “special” to these new patrons or “aquatics membership group” in the hotel restaurant immediately following their workout. You even can promote “healthy living” classes at your hotel to the senior market to build incremental business.

Of course, seniors are just one small market of travelers and local patrons who will greatly be impacted by . . . and attracted to . . .  your hotel once it begins offering aquatics.

The Value of Aquatic Exercise

The Aquatic Exercise Association defines aquatic fitness as activities performed in the water that promote and enhance physical and mental fitness. Aquatic fitness is typically performed in a vertical position in shallow or deep water. There are numerous applications to appeal to a wide variety of participants.

Here’s how it works . . . and why it works. Water buffers the body from gravity and makes a person virtually weightless when they are totally submerged. When a person’s head is out of the water, he or she weighs approximately 10 percent of normal body weight. 

Therefore, exercising in the water offers protective cushioning that land-based exercise cannot. Researchers tell us that exercise injuries are usually related to impact. Every time a person’s foot comes in contact with the floor, impact occurs. Because a person weighs so much less in the water, the impact on the body is reduced.

Water has the same advantages to toning as it does in cushioning. In order to get muscles in shape or “toned,” a person has to work against something. On land, a person fights gravity, but water limits the effect of gravity on the body.

Taking the plunge

Mike Jandzen, Aquatics Director at the Sea Colony Resort in Bethany Beach, Delaware, said he is seeing more and more interest by guests in the property’s aquatics programs. Water exercise, he said, can be enjoyed by young and old alike and offers cardiovascular conditioning, strength training and muscle toning while greatly reducing the impact on muscles and joints. 

“Over the past several years we’ve seen aquatics becoming the exercise vehicle of choice at the Sea Colony Resort,” Jandzen said. “We’ve had an AQUATREND Water Workout Station in our therapy pool for many years, and it’s constantly in use. Our senior guests enjoy it for therapy as well as for strength training and muscle toning. The water aspect makes it low impact. It’s easy to use, easy on joints and easy on muscles because buoyancy relieves the demands placed on all body parts.” 

Every time a person gets into the pool, he or she is losing weight from the resistance that water provides, noting that the resistance of water is 12 times that of air. When exercising in water, the body still creates extra heat because muscles are being used. However, the body has a much easier time transferring your exercise heat to the water than it does to the air. The result is a workout that immediately feels refreshing and cool, and not hot and soggy from sweat.

When exercising on the AQUATREND, Jandzen said people can exercise specific muscle groups in a safe and cool way.

Benefit to hotels of all sizes

The AQUATREND Water Workout Station™ used at the Sea Colony Resort and numerous other hotels and resorts, is lightweight and compact, simple to install and remove and doesn’t take up valuable pool space.

It provides 10 Body Sculpting exercises, including standing squats, lateral pull ups, hanging leg pulleys, closed-grip pull ups, forward dips, single knee extensions/curls, leg diamonds, abdominal press, reverse abdominal and straight abdominal curl. The Cardio Circuit provides 13 exercises, including: squat and lift, reverse lunge, chin ups, cardio-sprint, single bicep curls, body swings, cardio bobbing jumping jacks, single knee tucks, seat push ups, cardio-seated bicycle, oblique reach, reverse leg pull-downs and cardio-seated bicycle. The Power Circuit, which incorporates aerobic and muscular conditioning, including: lat pull up/body swing combo, closed grip pull-up/reverse curl combo, cardio hurdles, reverse dip abductor/adductor cross combo, hanging curl-skate kick combo, cardio-cross country ski, body pike push-up combo, cardio seat down sprinting, straight curl-alternating elbow and cardio – seat down leg flurries. 

In addition, the revenue opportunities for hotels which install water workout stations are limitless. Properties can sell aquatic memberships to the local community and staff; Re-sell workout station units to guests for use in their home pools; and, market the amenity online and in all print collateral materials to increase occupancy among all demographics, including: women travelers, elderly travelers and families on vacation who are health conscious yet want to entertain their children.

With healthcare today a $1.8 trillion industry, spas and resorts looking to increase their revenues would do well to promote good health via aquatics. Why spend $250,000 to improve just one exercise room when an AQUATREND can be purchased for as little as $1,195.00 per unit (or leased for under $1 per day) and accomplish the same results while providing a public service? 

With only four machines in the pool, and a modest monthly fee, water workout stations will pay for themselves in less than six months. Add personal training capabilities at only six hours of one-on-one training per week and the units pay for themselves in only three months. The profit potential with multiple classes and trainers utilizing the machines grows exponentially.

Don’t overlook the obvious. 

Show guests that you care about their health and satisfaction by making aquatic exercise the next great guest-service amenity.



About Milton Velinsky and Steven Belmonte
Milton Velinsky is CEO of Aquatic Trends, manufacturer of the Aqua Trend Water Workout Station™.  Steven Belmonte is President and CEO of Hospitality Solutions LLC, and exclusively holds the distribution rights for AQUATREND to the hospitality industry. For more information on Aquatic Trends, call Steven Belmonte at 973-598-0839 or e-mail him at stevenbelmonte@aol.com; or contact Milton Velinsky at 561-588-9948 or email him at mvelinsky@aquatictrends.com
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Contact:

Aquatic Trends
(561) 775-3058
http://www.aquatictrends.com/
 

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