5 Ways Hotel Spas Guide the Frequent Traveler's Quest for Wellbeing

By Mary Gendron Senior Vice President / Managing Director, Eric Mower & Associates | July 23, 2017

"In a spa, wellness is the offering; wellbeing is the outcome," said industry consultant Mia Kyricos at the start of her spa trends presentation at the Washington Spa Alliance (WSPA ) Annual Symposium earlier this year. Going well beyond the topic of massage which is currently the backbone of the modern spa economy, Kyricos and fellow presenters and panelists that day revealed the extent to which spas are assisting guests in realizing long-term wellbeing goals. Chief among them are: better quality sleep; nutrition plans that are personalized for one's body, lifestyle and even one's DNA; mental fitness; products and services that are science-backed and efficacious; and facilitating the global trend of wellness travel.

Who is leading the charge in this spa evolution? It's the guests themselves, and for various reasons. It is no surprise, for example, that travel-worn Baby Boomers, many away on business as often as they are home, seek to incorporate some respite into their daily lives. While in the past, relief might have come from splurging on dessert or an after-dinner drink, today, it is a more mindful effort with the focus on developing habits that will more likely promote healthy longevity.

Meanwhile, Millennials, already comprising the largest piece of the business travel pie, are, by 2020, expected to account for almost 50% of all business travel spending (Boston Consulting Group ). What's more, this group incorporates leisure travel – lately dubbed "bleisure" -- into their trips, keeping these sojourners away from home even longer, though by choice.

And everyone – from Baby Boomers to Gen-Xers – are tech-centric, entrenched in the need for speed, sometimes at the expense of personal wellbeing. In a society that puts high value on performance and productivity, something's got to give in the quest for peace of mind, body and spirit.

Is the focus on wellbeing a passing notion? Research indicates otherwise.

Global Wellness Institute's most recent Global Wellness Economy Monitor (January 2017) defines wellness as "the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health." Estimating the global wellness economy at $3.7 trillion (2015-the most recent data available), the Institute defines this sector as encompassing "industries that enable consumers to incorporate wellness activities and lifestyles into their daily lives."

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.