September 3, 2015 · Melissa Kavanagh
Wellness Tourism Fueling Hotels’ Bottom Lines
This post was inspired by a recent Twitter following. Stay Well, (@staywellrooms) is a company that I’d never heard of until a few days ago. When I received the email notification that they followed me, the health and wellness nut that I am immediately needed to do research to see what this company is. I found that they work with hospitality partners to optimize the guests’ physical and emotional well-being when traveling. This includes all areas of hotel environments, such as air quality, lighting, cleaning protocols, healthy menu options, and even some vitamin c-infused shower water. Additionally, they have created an app for travelers to help minimize jet lag, provide wellness tips, virtual Stay Well room tours and online wellness programs from the Cleveland Clinic.
Why would a hotel go to these extremes? Well, you know what they say… Follow the money!
According to a recent report by Skift, wellness tourism is now a $494 billion industry and growing, up 12.3% YoY. Andrea Foster, VP/direct of hospitality services New England/director of spa/wellness for PFK Consulting USA says that “a $10 ADR lift for a hotel due to a wellness initiative, for a 200-room hotel, assuming a reasonable occupancy percentage, a reasonable flow-through of the additional revenue to the bottom line, and apply a reasonable industry return on investment, the valuation increase to the hotel could be as high as $5M.”
Stay Well is certainly not alone in catering to wellness-minded travelers. Kimpton Hotels has already embraced this demographic by offering yoga mats in rooms, stocking the in-room snack bar with natural snacks, and a having a bicycle lending program.
What can hoteliers offer their guests to help them have a health-conscience stay? Not every hotel is going to be able, nor should want to, offer vitamin-c infused shower water.
You need to know your guests. Do you cater to vacationers or business travelers? Do you get a lot of families, couples, or singles? These factors will help determine the best wellness options to offer.
That said, there is some very low hanging fruit (no pun intended) that would beneficial to all types of travelers.If you’ve got on an on-site restaurant, the wellness opportunities are nearly endless.
• Offer seasonal, local, fresh fruit. This gives guests a healthy way to either start the day for breakfast, or have a snack/dessert later in the day.
• Have at least a few allergen-free items on the menu. There are 8 items that account for most common food allergies: dairy, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybean. Train your staff to understand common allergies. Guests that know they can get some good food without worrying about allergies will be happier guests.
• Label the menu with allergen and special diet symbols. These would include vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc. This helps guests quickly navigate the menu for their specific needs.
• Work with local farms to bring in local ingredients as much as possible. This includes fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat/poultry. The farm to table movement continues to be a growing trend.
• Grow your own herb garden. Nothing tastes better than fresh herbs!
Outside of the restaurant, here are some other simple additions that can cater to the wellness-minded traveler:
• Natural/organic snacks in-house and/or in rooms
• Aromatherapy oils available in rooms
• If you’ve got some runners or bicyclists on staff, offer a guided run or bike ride through town. Additionally, if your area has a local bike or running club, have their information on hand to help those guests join group runs/rides. Most clubs are happy to have guests. They might even consider making your hotel part of their route.
• Offer a walking trail map or information on local parks or nature preserves
• Amp up the gym with yoga, meditation, or other group classes
Have you added wellness features to your property? How have they enhanced your guests’ stays? Let us know in the comments.