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Two Well-being & Revenue Opportunities Brought to the Forefront by the Pandemic
By Giovanni Angelini - Exclusive for 4Hoteliers.com
Friday, 18th September 2020
 

Giovanni Angelini, is a senior and well respected professional within the Hospitality industry world-wide and with a wealth of experiences of over 50 years acquired in 3 Continents, Asia in particular. A former executive and the CEO of the Shangri-La Hotels and ResortsThere’s no doubt that crises come ripe with problems and far-reaching negative impacts, but they can also be the catalysts for positive change – creating new opportunities to improve the guest experience and, ultimately, enhance the bottom line.

Despite all the stresses and strains placed on global hotel business by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, hotel companies now have a clear opportunity to make well-being a key component of the guest experience.

As the pandemic has made people realize that health is the most important personal asset, here two very clear opportunities for hotels to consider:

1. QUALITY OF INDOOR AIR – A clear competitive advantage that can generate additional revenue

Quality of indoor air is of paramount importance to hotel guests and employees. Unfortunately, ventilation systems don’t always get the necessary attention nor funds required to keep them in top condition and up to date with the latest solutions and technology.

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, much emphasis has been placed on surface sanitation, hand-washing, mask-wearing, contactless interactions, the promotion of social distancing and others. These are all valid public health pursuits and should continue, in keeping with expert advice. However, little has been said about the indoor air that we breathe.

Most hotels – especially urban properties with sealed windows – have to deal with a constant flow of airborne contaminants including dust, pollen, mould, mildew, bacteria, chemical fumes, volatile organic compounds from carpets, cigarette smoke, CO2, outdoor pollution and others.

If not dealt with effectively, these contaminants can pose health risks to guests and employees, potentially giving rise to infections and aggravating allergies.

A hotel or resort is legally responsible for ensuring that its environment is safe for all, and at all times – especially during times of crisis.

When it comes to safety and comfort, it is important that hotels implement top of the line equipment (not the cheapest) and strictly implement regular maintenance and cleaning – paying particularly close attention to air ducts, HVAC, cooling towers, and air filters.

It has been proven that the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air filters) types are at present the very best in the market as those filters can capture 99+% of all indoor contaminants (it is important to note that in order to support the HEPA filters, a stronger than normal ventilation system is necessary).

Second best filters available at present for commercial & hotels buildings are the MERV-16 (minimum efficiency reporting value) filters that with a proper ventilation system, can capture 95% of all the indoor contaminants/particles.

It is to be noted that the MERV scale goes from 1 to 16 and in order to prevent infections, it is strongly advisable that hotels do not go below MERV-13 when installing filters. In addition, UVC germicidal lamps with proper contact velocity, ensuring that the quality of air is safe for all at all times, should also be installed next to the filters.

Of course MERV-14, 15 or 16 will give hotels a much stronger competitive advantage and a clear reason to promote/market it to the consumers. Quality of air is of particular interest/demanded by most market segments patronizing the hotels. Note that with MERV 14-15 filters combined with UVC germicidal lamps, your risk of catching airborne viruses in a room is practically nil.

In case of old buildings where up-grade is not possible, portable air cleaners with MERV-13 or better filters can be used in each room

And let’s not forget the exhaust air system of the public restrooms – which should be running 24/7 at around 30 cfm.

An important question – and a key objective for any hotel – should be: What can be done to achieve similar air quality to a modern airplane, where the cabin air is filtered and renewed every two-to-three minutes?

This may be expensive, but customers would definitely welcome it. It would also be a clear competitive advantage that the hotel could promote.

Of course, it is not easy to measure the impact on business, but operators with top of the line HEPA (or MERV14 or 15 filters with UVC germicidal lamps) facilities can expect a considerable higher revenue in both rooms and public areas as compared with the run-of-the-mill facilities.

Properly explained and properly marketed, a hotel has the potential to increase its RevPAR by 10%-15%. Of course It’s hard to forecast it, but do remember that safety and well-being have become the biggest factor for customers in choosing a hotel, and, in the new normal, properties which take care of all aspects of a guest’s health will be in the highest demand and paying 10%-15% more for it is in most case not an issue.

2. Responding to WELLNESS TRENDS and rising demand for holistic health experiences

A holistic approach to well-being could not only help hotels to meet the shifting needs of customers in the new normal, but also enhance the hotel experience overall.

Prior to the pandemic, wellness was already on the rise. Post-pandemic, people are even more focused on personal health and well-being, making wellness-focused offerings a clear opportunity for much-needed revenue generation.

We live in a highly demanding, competitive, ruthless, and stressful world, complete with information overload, unrealistic business expectations, and rising global inequality and people are searching for a better way of life as an antidote to stressful present way of living.

Depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders and trauma are skyrocketing globally at such an alarming rate, the WHO recently stated that responding to mental health issues is now one of its top priorities.

All of this is creating a clear opportunity for hotels to upgrade and expand on their wellness services and facilities to focus not only on the physical, but also the mental well-being of their guests.

Hotel spa and wellness centres have long served as the main port of call for guests seeking to relax and beat back tension with massage therapies and beauty treatments. Many have served – and continue to serve – this purpose well. But at present, savvy hoteliers worldwide are finding different ways to engage with new demands/trends.

The best-placed for success in the new normal, however, will be those wellness centres that recognise they can play an important role in attending to the emotional and psychological needs of their guests too.

To develop or improve a competitive wellness destination, urban or resort, it is exceptionally crucial to create its own distinct concept and philosophy from the very beginning, appealing to the targeted audience.

When properly planned, applied and conducted in a pleasant and professional environment, there are numerous therapies and treatments which can help to enhance guests’ peace of mind and bring long-lasting value to them.

Emotional balance assessments, mindfulness sessions, guided meditation, breathing techniques, acupuncture (including electro-acupuncture), ayurvedic treatments vedanta, tai chi, yoga, reiki gemstone and precious metals therapy, diet advice, sleep-inducing programmes, and hypnosis sessions are just some of the services which could be offered – following some thoughtful renovations and employment of qualified therapists, of course.

Going one step further, hotels and wellness centre operators could partner with professional psychotherapists and neuroscientists to provide comprehensive services to hotel guests and customers. Some of the programmes could also be offered in the hotel room via TV, or streamed via mobile or other in-room accessories.

Making use of virtual reality is also becoming in demand. As an example, new reclining indoor “pods” allow users to see, smell, hear and even feel different virtual nature settings with the objective of creating a more tranquil state of mind.

By effectively responding to the growing prevalence of chronic lifestyle diseases, hotels have a tremendous opportunity to develop top of the line and profitable wellness centres.

To succeed, however, owners and operators must take this opportunity much more seriously. A change of mindset is essential – especially when it comes to the allocation of space and the introduction of new facilities and services.

The traditional hotel wellness set-up consisting of a swimming pool, gym, massage rooms and sauna is no longer enough to meet the demands of today’s guests and customers. Guests now want more than just a copy-paste wellness getaway.

To attract and retain high-spending customers – and ultimately generate financial results – investment in new products and innovative facilities is essential.

Vitality/hydrotherapy pools, infrared and bio saunas, snow cabins/ice fountains, salt caves/brine pools, Hammams, Kneipp Walk paths, Rasul thermal mud treatments, Onsen therapy, anti-ageing treatments, hydrotherapy pools, relaxation pods, and oxygen rooms are just some of the options available for wellness centres seeking to expand their offerings.

Keeping abreast of the latest technological developments is important too. Numerous apps are available to supplement wellness treatments and provide additional relief for guests. ‘Time-shifter,’ for example, is a handy app which helps long-haul travellers adapt to their new time zones. Various virtual reality products are also available for wellness and fitness, which can bring added value to the overall guest experience.

In these uncertain times, well-being has become the most important factor for all of us and in this industry there is need to take hotel wellness to the next level.

Hotels which implement the latest wellness facilities and services could easily double or triple their revenue in this important profit centre. It has been proven that with a proper urban or destination wellness there is an increase in the length of stay, in guest retention and in direct bookings.

(Note: Wellness in the workplace also must be addressed for sustainable success in the new normal).

Recommendation:

With every major crisis comes a moment of opportunity. This is a time for the hotel industry to think outside the box and must accept fundamental shifts and structural changes. In addition to efficiency, automation and technology, hotels have a clear opportunity to maximse on well-being as it has become the most important factor for travelers and the industry should maximise on this.

With a broadening audience and heighted search for well-being, the quality of indoor air and an immersive/transformational wellness facility, will definitely spur new and distinctive demand in the coming years. The industry’s pivot to well-being is no longer a trend but a necessity and in some case, this requires a change in hoteliers mindset.

Giovanni Angelini
A 50 year veteran of the Hotel-Hospitality-travel industry with a wealth of experience acquired in 4 Continents, Asia in particular. A long term resident of Hong Kong and Retired Chief Executive Officer of Shangri-La International.

A board member of several large corporations and member of many industry related and quality management organisations. Founder of Angelini Hospitality, providing consultancy and advisory work to developers and hotels-travel-tourism organisations.

Recipient of two Honoris Causa (Doctorate) in Business Administration and in Global Business Leadership, four Lifetime Achievement Awards, the 2006 Corporate Hotelier of the World, Maestro del Lavoro (2014) and of several other recognitions and awards.

www.angelinihospitality.com

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