By Amanda Szabo
Fueled by the experience economy, delivering memorable hotel experiences matters. Now more than ever, forward-thinking hoteliers are setting high expectations for the rest of the industry.
With much of the economy forecasted to lose its shine in 2020, many hoteliers are seeing an opportunity to review their playbook for staying profitable during the downturn. Brands are considering the image their brand conveys to the world and working to create services that match consumers’ changing values and lifestyle choices. But when it comes to how the next 12 months will play out, the market will be defined by emerging trends and technologies that change the way guests interact with their favorite brands, and break down the walls that separate them.
Let’s look at the top lifestyle trends that hoteliers are, or should be, embracing to boost their bottom line.
Wellness and Self-Care
Hotels and travel will continue to play a significant role when it comes to wellness and self-care trends. The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. According to a recent study, North America is the largest regional wellness tourism market, estimated to bring in $311 billion by 2022, with the US driving over one-third of all world wellness tourism revenues.
The wellness services trend has gained a lot of traction in the last few years—first at the more luxurious hotels, but quickly making its way into all types of properties. Guests are seeing holistic health across offerings in spas, fitness centers, and cuisine. On a larger scale, the health and wellness trend is tied to what millennials call the “self-care movement,” where taking care of oneself becomes a top priority. The self-care movement encompasses physical fitness, nutrition, emotional stability, and simply showing love to the body.
Hoteliers have recognized that people are willing to pay a premium for this type of self-care and are investing more in preserving their health and wellness. For off-peak times, hotels can open up these same amenities and services to their day-stay guests. Whether it is a millennial business traveler
dropping in for the day in between long flights, or a group of baby boomers who are making it part of their weekly routine, the possibilities are endless.
Thanks to movement first started by Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, more and more people around the world are reducing their carbon footprint and thinking about the adverse effects that air travel has on the environment. People also want to ensure their money is staying in the local community by choosing to support local businesses. This has all contributed to the dramatic demand for staycations, daycations, and day-stays as one of the fastest growing new revenue streams for hoteliers. This trend has gone from an industry buzzword to a mainstay guest category for some of the leading hotel companies and brands like Kimpton, Highgate, Pacifica, Sydell Group, Rosewood Hotel Group, as well as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Omni, Loews, Belmond, Waldorf Astoria, St. Regis, and Fairmont among others. ResortPass has helped properties of all types collect ancillary revenue up to $500,000 with day guest bookings that monetize under-utilized amenities and services such as spas, cabanas, and pool access. Day guests are the ideal leisure hotel guest. They book specifically to enjoy the hotel amenities and they spend a significant amount on-site on outlets like F&B and spa.
Hand-in-hand with the wellness and self-care trends, hotels companies are offering phone-free zones and mindful tech-free experiences, so that guests can unplug and unwind. A recent story in the Wall Street Journal about pricey vacation spots that boast no cell reception or WiFi might seem like a misprint, but with stress and tech on the rise, the digital detox is a trend not likely to go away any time soon. Wyndham Grand has gone as far as offering the best pool locations, free food, and a chance to win another visit to guests who lock up their phones in a pouch kept by the guests, but only able to be unlocked by hotel staff, according to the AP. Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Mexico has a detox concierge who will store your electronic devices, trading them with board games. The digital detox is also feeding the day-stay movement, with millennials, bleisure travelers and even families looking to spend the day at a local hotel, enjoying amenities, services, and dining without the distractions of devices. Brands that help guests disconnect could reap big rewards for years to come.
Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle
High-quality fitness and healthy lifestyle offerings are playing a bigger role in the booking process, and bringing in additional opportunities for revenue for those locals and travelers nearby willing to pay a premium for day access. New health-centered lifestyle brands such as Equinox, known as ‘The fittest hotel in the world’ are leading the pack when it comes to the fitness concepts. Equinox Hotel in Hudson Yards, New York boasts a 60,000 square foot gym along with personal training services, SoulCycle studio and spa, healthy eating restaurant and suites described as the ‘ultimate sleep chamber’. DoubleTree by Hilton offers Five Feet to Fitness rooms as a way for guests to exercise in the privacy of their room. The rooms have 11 different pieces of equipment, including a high tech digital kiosk training station. Westin has over 250 ‘run concierges’ around the globe and hosts Peloton cycling classes at over 50 Westin locations across the US. Gansevoort Hotel Group promises glamour all the way, and that extends to their relationship with fitness company Exhale to offer the latest in exercise trends like barre, yoga, and core-fusion cardio classes, and is also linked to an Exhale spa for a full-circle health experience.
Change can be challenging but it can also spark better ways of doing things. Ultimately, new hospitality industry trends are a response to customer demands and changes in the way we live, work and socialize. And it’s never been more important for hoteliers to keep in front of these trends if they hope to compete and grow. Hoteliers that don’t adjust to these new realities risk quickly falling behind.