By Pierre Verbeke
To say that the hospitality and travel industry has been affected by the worldwide pandemic is truly an understatement. Those who have careers in hospitality management or other roles in the industry have been faced with unprecedented obstacles like travel bans and the inability to gather for large functions, which has made it almost impossible to be successful.
As the restrictions are slowly lifted and people are starting to travel and gather again, hospitality professionals have been met with a new set of rules to follow as well as demands from guests who want to ensure their safety during this difficult time. They also have the task of re-imagining their space to include more and different options – often different than business as usual – to attract guests and fill rooms.
Yes, things in the hospitality industry have definitely changed since 2020 and the role of industry managers, marketing professionals, and those in brand development for these properties need to embrace the changes in the way we travel and gather for meetings, weddings, corporate events, and more to expand the opportunities for their property, resort, or event facilities to be successful during these challenging times.
5 Ways the Travel and Hospitality Has Changed Due to the Pandemic
- Experts are seeing an increase in “staycations” and local tourism, which may be a trend to watch for the near future.
- Many companies are using electronic meeting software like “Zoom” instead of traveling to annual meetings and conferences leaving hotels with empty banquet and guest rooms.
- Guests are concerned now more than ever about the cleanliness of accommodations and amenities.
- Weddings and other large celebrations have been canceled due to restrictions, leaving hotels and wedding destinations without events to plan and accommodate…and the revenue it brings.
- There has been a sharp decrease in the booking of corporate events which means a huge loss of revenue for venues due to the lack of annual corporate functions and events.
Now is the time for hospitality leaders to think outside the box and be creative to increase revenue and fill those rooms and empty gathering spaces.
Among the ideas being considered by the experts to boost revenue and attract guests are co-working and co-living space within the hotels and converting space in the hotel to apartments versus nightly rentals.
A popular idea among hoteliers with on-site spas or wellness activities and programs is to transform the space into a spa wellness destination, which is a brilliant concept and something that is definitely needed now more than ever…and in every part of the world. The purpose is not to transform the hotels into stuffy medical facilities or sterile clinics, but to offer a beautiful, peaceful, calm, and tranquil escape where people want to come to reap the benefits of the wellness services offered.
Repurposing a hotel into a wellness destination
Hospitality industry leaders genuinely believe the idea of transforming some hotels into wellness destinations is a much-needed niche that can really revive a hotel’s post-pandemic revenue. By offering a variety of health and wellness programs to guests, they are able to offer guests a welcome escape from the overwhelming issues of the past year, and also a chance to heal and recharge their energy and spirits after such a stressful time.
Reasons to transform your hotel into a relaxing wellness destination
- The need for COVID stress relief is valid and is something there will be a need for now and in the future.
- Corporate firms already invest in sending their top executives to de-stress in an effort to keep them in their position so offering a new wellness destination makes perfect sense.
- Many people have interest in weight loss. Whether it be for health reasons or just to look better, so a weight loss themed program would attract many demographics.
- The Medical Journal indicates that almost 10% of the world’s population has an eating disorder of some sort, meaning a healthy eating wellness program is a good choice.
- Many people want to lead a healthier lifestyle, but simply do not understand how to make changes to be healthier. Your new wellness destination can help.
- According to the Sleep Foundation, approximately 40% of people have sleep disorders, which includes insomnia, so a wellness destination for those people would be a smart transformation.
In addition, the number of people concerned with their work-life balance alone indicates a valid need for more and better wellness destinations in hotels. According to Open Sourced Workplace, a whopping 65% of employees indicate that workplace stress has been the cause of various difficulties in their personal lives. Add in the fact that 12% missed work due to a variety of different physical issues related to job stress, and 27% of workers indicate they are depressed due to their workload, and there is plenty of evidence that more mental and physical wellness programs would be utilized if they were made available by hotels as wellness destinations.
During the studies performed by EHL Advisory Services for luxury hotel groups that asked for our help with the transformation of some of their property portfolio, we learned that there were many advantages to our concept of transformation into successful wellness centers.
According to WellWays some possible programs to consider for your hotel’s new role as a med spa destination include:
- Energy and Well-Being – Fitness oriented body-shaping programs that increase vitality
- Diet and Detox – Focus on light diet menu, weight loss, and PH balanced programs
- Sleep and Recovery – Emphasis on better sleeping, inner energy, and vitality programs
- Stress Management and Emotions – Training for positive emotions and relationships and better handling of stress
- Mindfulness – Guidance on self-improvement, introspection, and life quality
Is your hotel a good candidate to be a successful spa wellness destination?
Probably one of the best reasons the transformation of your hotel to a wellness destination is such a smart idea is that it does not require a massive financial investment, as much of the needed requirements are already in place at the property. Here are some things to consider when deciding how to establish and spotlight your hotel as a top-notch wellness destination.
- Hotels that are located in an area that people would find interesting as a destination is a bonus. Be sure to tap into the area and immediate surroundings to draw attention to the property and its wellness programs.
- If your property is in a remote area, market that as a perk of getting away from it all to enjoy rest, calm, tranquility, and general well-being.
- Take advantage of your climate. Those with hotter weather should take advantage of the heat, which can be used for purposes of sport, detox, and even challenging your body in different environment. Colder areas can use the weather for a therapeutic method of preservation, a better sport environment, and provide relaxing ambiances with fireplaces and soaking tubs.
- Introduce credible wellness programs at your hotel and market them as such. If possible, work with a recognized chef, physician, sport coach, athlete, doctor or celebrity specialized in various wellness programs. This lends major credibility to your hotel’s program by giving it the power of strong knowledge, experience, and trust.
- Be prepared to adapt the hotel in order to welcome your new clientele to exceed their expectations.
Preparing your Hotel for the transition to become a Med Spa
Once you have decided that your hotel will be a good candidate to transition into a popular wellness destination, these are the goals that will help you be successful in the transformation and see your hotel as a thriving new wellness center.
- Maximize occupancy of the property by attracting year-round guests instead of seasonal traffic.
- Increase the average amount spent by each customer therefore increasing new income from the wellness center programs.
- Extending the average length of stay for each customer is key to lowering hotelier costs.
- Statistics show that wellness destinations have a 40 to 50% repeat business rate, as compared to only 7 to 10% in average hotels.
People looking for wellness destinations are prepared to stay for your services for longer periods of time versus typical hotel visits. This means that the accommodations need to be up to par and includes addressing several issues from having larger rooms to adding more points of sale to increase revenue. Here is what your hotel will need to have to thrive as a wellness destination.
Your hotel’s new wellness destination should include:
- Larger accommodations, as your guests will spend more time in their rooms and need to have a comfortable space to relax.
- Several points of sale in order to make guests’ stay more enjoyable. In addition, this will keep guests in the hotel by providing everything they are looking, for therefore increasing sales.
- Cozy corners and relaxing spaces where guests can unwind and retreat to.
- Relevant amenities that are consistent with the programs of the wellness center and that increase the comfort of the guest, going above their expectations.
- An amazing wellness area that allows for various treatments, saunas, massages, and use of baths or spas.
- Daytime activities that enhance the programs offered onsite as well as in the surrounding community. Consider activities like yoga on the beach, exploring local markets for fresh fruit and vegetables, mediation at a local park, and more.
- Easy access to knowledgeable medical staff that can coach, educate, and persuade guests during their wellness programs.