By Adam Mogelonsky, Larry Mogelonsky
“We believe in the importance of sleep. If a guest doesn’t get a good night’s rest they are less inclined to return.” That profound statement came courtesy of Simon Chapman, Complex General Manager for The Benjamin Royal Sonesta, who oversees the hotel’s Rest & Renew Sleep Program in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a medicine professor specializing in sleep science and author of “Sleep for Success” (2011).
We sought out Chapman for an interview because we deem sleep amenities to be a great tool to attract new guests and to support higher rates. While this is nevertheless true, the importance of sleep harks at something far more profound. In competitive urban markets like New York (especially the neighborhood of Midtown East), there are dozens of properties within a few blocks of The Benjamin, so ensuring that guests start their day as refreshed as possible is first and foremost an opportunity for building loyalty, return visits and positive word of mouth.
Advanced sleep programs have become quite trendy in the post-pandemic years because there is now a mainstream awareness for the importance of sleep in bodily restoration, immune system support and overall longevity. Significantly, these programs needn’t be overly expensive to execute.
To give you a sense of what to expect for FF&E and SOPs at your own hotel as you investigate the setup of a sleep program, here is what has been deployed at The Benjamin Royal Sonesta:
- Curated pillow menu including anti-snore, buckwheat, cooling cloud, five-foot body cushion, lullaby, satin beauty, Swedish memory, sleep for success side pillow, sleep for success back sleeper and water-filled
- On-demand meditation offering a variety of ten-minute mindfulness or mantra sessions via guestroom phones
- Sleep masks, ear plugs, blackout curtains and noise machines
- Work-down and wake-up calls
The most important takeaway from this list is that the execution of a successful sleep program involves comprehensive additions, blending together room amenities that all guests benefit from such as the blackout curtains as well as the on-demand meditation.
During our interview, we asked about ROI because generally the contributions to gross revenues from wellness additions are difficult to measure . In other words, barring the feedback related to the onsite sleep amenities within Medallia (the CX platform that The Benjamin uses), how do you know that guests find these features to be actually meaningful? How can you directly quantify whether or not someone is booking at the hotel specifically for its sleep amenities?
These are indeed hard questions to answer! The data shows that the Rest & Renew program has meaningful added value for the brand. According to Chapman, the initial sample of feedback has all been positive when asking guests specific questions about the sleep amenities or within sentiment analysis. Based on the success of the program, Sonesta International has partnered with Dr. Rebecca Robbins on other sleep initiatives throughout the brand portfolio.
As an interesting observation, Chapman noted that the periods of highest demand for the curated pillow menu are during holiday weekends when leisure travelers have remarked that they relish the chance to try a pillow they might not get a chance to experience back at home. This anecdote reveals another fundamental hospitality lesson: hotels should strive to be better than home, with sleep programs helping inspire guests to transform their daily habits when they aren’t traveling.
But for scrupulous ROI calculations, Chapman said that to get a sleep program off the ground it will always need determined internal champions. Luckily, there are many within Sonesta who prioritize sleep and have applied the Rest & Renew Sleep Program across the entire portfolio as a way to differentiate the brand from competitors and provide guests with a great night’s sleep.
And for this reason, it’s our hope that you look to hospitality leaders like Simon Chapman and Sonesta to see where the industry is headed and what else you can do to improve the onsite experience without breaking the bank. Ultimately, if your guests win by getting better sleep, then you will get rewarded with loyal repeat guests and stronger rates.