By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky

The age old quote goes as follows: “If you don’t make time for your wellness, then you’ll be forced to make time for your illness”

This quote highlights the notion of being proactive with our own bodies (wellness) instead of waiting until a debilitating disease strikes before seeking help from a medical professional (illness). To this end, COVID-19 served as a flashpoint, both for general awareness of wellbeing practices and for the acceleration of medical technologies related to antiaging. Where hotels come into the mix is as wellness centers to serve a growing clientele of longevity-seeking customers.

And we’re not just talking about ancillary revenues with the bulk of the topline still coming from the guestrooms. Longevity is a macro trend that over the next two decades will progress towards a parity of rooms revenue and wellness revenues at many properties around the world.

Where to start, though, in an explanation of how the multitude of wellness practices and treatments can help to not only stave off aged-related illnesses but also increase lifespan? A good analogy here is to think of your body as an office desk or email inbox. When you’re overloaded with quick tasks that require your immediate attention and nonstop meetings, you seldom have the time or energy to focus on the intensive, purposeful projects that will actually benefit the brand in the near or distant future instead of simply keeping the lights on for one more day at a time. Your body works the same way, putting off the long-term tasks to deal with a constant barrage of immediate priorities.

For your own googling pleasure, look up the ‘informational theory of aging’ or the ‘mitochondrial theory of aging’ (the energy creation units existing in every cell of every animal on the planet), along with a few similar other postulates, that are attempting to explain on a molecular level how systemic aging, chronic diseases and general bodily breakdown occur. By helping reframe every part of the body as one unified machine, the hope is to develop techniques – that is, wellness programs – that act to fix everything all at once (with directionality depending on one’s genome, one’s epigenome and life experiences), leading to fewer visual signs of aging, more brainpower and a longer healthspan (the good years one has).

In this sense, illness is the inverse of wellness. All those kale smoothies, frantic Peloton workouts, CoQ10 supplements, guided meditation sessions and lavender bubble baths work to amplify a human’s baseline functionality. By doing so, individual units of the body, much like your email inbox, aren’t bogged down by minutia and can more adeptly pivot to whatever problem the randomness of the world throws its way, be it a carcinogen in that cheeseburger you just ate, a free-floating virus particle that lodges in your nostril or one of the quintillion rays of UV light bombarding our planet that happens to cause a mutagenic break in the DNA of one of your skin cells.

Knowing that this longevity enlightenment is ramping up means that guests will soon come to not only want but expect wellness programs from their chosen hotels. And if you don’t have these value-adds set up and properly marketed in one capacity or another, your property may be disregarded.

To those who think we’re speaking in tongues, yes the ‘heads in beds’ mentality will persist for limited service, select service, economy and midscale properties. There will always be the customer who’s just looking for a comfy bed in a quiet room – no frills whatsoever. But this segment of hospitality will increasingly suffer from commoditization, squeezing the ADRs you can charge and forcing you to cut corners until your hotel is essentially a vending machine for travelers.

The future of luxury or upscale travel will be defined by experiences, of which wellness programs will play a huge contributing role in how much enjoyment, satisfaction or meaning each guest derives from their hotel stays. Moreover, we see this trend seeping into the four-star and corporate mindsets where guests progressively want such amenities as in-room workout equipment, wholly organic meal options or sleep-promoting room enhancements.

To close, we propose that, because antiaging is increasingly on people’s minds, wellness should therefore be on every hotelier’s radar, no matter the star classification, as a way to safeguard brand equity as well as increase per-guest revenues by offering various cross-sell opportunities. As for specific tactics and programs, for that we could write a 300-page dissertation that would be out of date the moment it hit the presses, but we’re more than happy to conceptualize what will work for your brand.