In an increasingly complex environment, where the term wellness has now been diluted to cover everything from the provision of an athletics concierge to medical treatments, owners and asset managers require advice to help focus their investment on the most appropriate services that will enhance their existing offering.
EHL’s Executive MBA class engaged in a workshop focussing on wellness and well-being within the hospitality industry with László Puczkó, Director of Industry Intelligence, Resources for Leisure Assets (RLA). RLA’s primary focus is working with both of these stakeholders, helping them to understand how best they can exploit their existing resources to maximize return on investment for wellness focused activities.
Mr. Puczkó highlighted that one of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry is that, while interest in health is a meta trend on the rise across diverse geographical markets, what this means and how it is translated into a wellness offering will vary for each location. This can make it difficult to identify what works well and to whom it appeals most at a quantitative level.
For larger hotel chains, it is not simply enough to develop a standardized wellness offering to be delivered across all of their properties. Indeed, the current approach of most larger chains take when addressing wellness is to focus on the physical rather than mental, spiritual, social or intellectual elements of holistic wellness.
As consumers become more educated about what wellness really means to them specifically, hotels need to become more agile in how they address the varying needs of a diverse customer base.
Whilst owners and operators should certainly look to address this opportunity, they should do so in such a way that the requirement for large scale capital investment is not necessarily required, particularly at the mid-size end of the market and below. As the demands of the consumer evolve, the resources dedicated to address these should be flexible enough to adapt, whether that is through the upskilling of wellness staff or the introduction of new treatments and services.
If hotels wish to build meaningful relationships with customers using their wellness offering as a proof point, care around messaging will need to be taken. They must be aware of the risks that exist around the potential to commodify wellness which could effectively undermine what wellness really means.
As with most challenges facing the hospitality industry, there are significant opportunities available for providers currently operating or looking to enter the sphere of wellness. Being mindful of the pitfalls around commodification of wellness, understanding what wellness really means to the target consumer and developing an agile suite of resources to address the needs of consumers will help providers to make the most of this benefiting not only the wellness of their customers but also their bottom line.
Author: Aideen Garry, EHL EMBA Student
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is an ambassador for traditional Swiss hospitality and has been a pioneer in hospitality education since 1893. It has created and inspired a unique professional community of over 25,000 hospitality managers, united by the values and the legacy of EHL.
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