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Why hotels and resorts should invest in wellness

COVID-19 further accelerated the global thirst for healthy living and wellness,” said Emlyn Brown, Accor Global vice president of wellbeing, at the recent Global Fitness Summit in Singapore.

Hoteliers were eager to respond to the pent-up global demand for travel and wellbeing experiences, a trend that has come with opportunities as well as challenges.

“We have definitely seen an acceleration in wellness and wellbeing practice following the pandemic with four out of five of our guests taking daily steps to improve their health and wellbeing in some way, whether through diet and nutrition, movement, or meditational elements,” Brown explained. “People have really understood that they need to own their health and concepts such as gut health, nutrition and veganism have accelerated, demonstrating that people are looking to be more preventative rather than curative in how they approach their healthcare.”

Brown shared why hotels and resorts should invest in wellness.

“Wellness seekers spend 56 percent more than leisure guests. Data also shows that when wellness activities are involved, more delighted customers leave the property,” he added.

It was also their way into the social media consciousness of the public with 8.5 million conversations a month. Their data also revealed that four out of five guests are taking conscious steps to improve their health every day.

“Being healthy is a daily ambition,” Brown added. “(Guests) take steps in daily life to stay healthy, such as eating in moderation, getting exercise, managing stress.” So to keep up with rising guest expectations, wellness is not an option within the hospitality (industry). It’s the standard today’s guests expect,” he noted.

Brown defined the next-generation wellness customer. He profiled them as Henry (High Earner Not Reach Yet), characterized as city dwellers, discerning and well-traveled, healthful and active, educated and curious about wellness. To differentiate “Henry” from traditional customers, Brown said that the new-gen customers pursue results in health and wellness, seek self-improvement rather than escape, aim to recharge or prevent burnout and look for the latest tech and medi spa innovations.

The new customers place a high value on sustainability. They are on a vegan lo/no diet. They are aspirational and heavily influenced by social media. They value solo “me time” as well as community “we time.” They also anticipate a more casual environment as they are less attracted to classic luxury experiences.

He also spent some time enumerating the macro wellness trends.

In nutrition, you are what you eat. “Food is medicine. We will see an acceleration in demand for wholesome, natural and healthy menus within all our hotels as health and nutrition take center stage as well as growth on no/lo bar menus,” Brown said.

In exercise and movement, it’s “fit body, fit mind.”

Emlyn Brown, global vice president of wellbeing, Accor Global

He sees “significant increase in exercise adherence across all age categories, and particularly the young, as our guests focus on fitness to support mental wellbeing and boost immunity. The exercise experience also goes digital,” adding, “Mental health is wealth. Our guests will demand and embrace practices and principles to reduce stress and support mental health. Meditation and outdoor experiences will blossom.”

Personalization is also big. “Hyper personalization is possible via data, diagnostics and health trackers. Guests expect a personal approach to their wellness needs. Guests will create their own health programs via various modalities and beliefs, driven by immediate access to their health data,” he said. “Spas embrace medical (treatments). Continued increase and deployment of noninvasive tech and medi spa procedures replace surgical solutions. Consumers blend tech with holistic health and nutrition to live better for longer.”

Lastly are the concepts of sustainable wellness and community building. As consumers continue to be environmentally conscious, spas are adopting sustainable practices such as eco-friendly products and services, green energy and sustainable design. Sustainable designs are front and center.

“Social interaction and engagement challenge the traditional one-on-one models of the spa. Consumers are part of tribes and communities that engage. Group activities have become central to younger generations’ experience,” Brown added. “The blurring lines between wellness, spa and fitness create new opportunities for club models.”

Accor has six pillars of wellbeing: nutrition, holistic design, movement, spa, mindfulness and digital. The combination and degree of execution for each pillar differs across the various brands. The emphasis of one pillar over another depends on the guest profile and demographic of Accor’s various hotel brands such as Banyan Tree, Sofitel Legend, Fairmont, Raffles, Sofitel Gallery, Pullman, Novotel, Ibis, Swissotel, Movenpick, Grand Mercure and many others.

“When we look across all of our brands — eco, midscale, premium, luxury, ultra-luxury — we see nearly 80 percent of our guests are taking steps to improve their health and wellbeing on a daily basis,” Brown enthused. “They’re doing many things, such as 10,000 steps a day and mindfulness and meditation – in addition a large proportion who are exercising regularly. We have to allow our guests to continue to do that when they’re in our properties.”

However, Brown is a passionate believer that fitness is the most communal experience you can have.

“I, therefore, see the gym experience as one we can really capitalize on from a local community point of view,” he said. “We also see recovery as key to capturing a much broader demographic, tapping into the trend that first saw people want to dress like an athlete — the athleisurewear boom — then train like an athlete, with battle ropes and PT. Now, it’s about recovering like an athlete with ice baths and percussion recovery.”

Brown added that they are also working on helping people eat like an athlete.

“We don’t see this being a Gen Z thing either. Yes, the younger demographic is probably taking it more seriously, but there are a lot of high-spend, high net worth Gen X individuals looking at biohacking and exploring ways to feel better, live better and live longer. We’re very interested in how we can deliver that within our club experience,” Brown added.

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