Business is good in the wellness industry. A 2018 report by the Global Wellness Institute says that more than half (AUD $6 trillion) of all global health expenditures are in wellness these days, and that the industry as a whole comprises 5.3% of global spending.
If these kinds of numbers are true, they aren’t easy to wave off. For all the wellness trends that come and go (and there are a lot of them), it looks like the industry is a force to be reckoned with over the long term.
So what’s behind it? Is it all about the products, services and exercise regimes? Or does the meteoric growth of the wellness industry speak to a shift in values?
Hotels can help us answer that question. Why? Hotels hold a mirror to the lifestyle values embodied by guests. Wi-Fi is an easy example. If a hotel offered Wi-Fi in 2001, few people would have cared (and it would have been very slow). Today, if you don’t offer high-speed Wi-Fi as a matter of course, you’ll never stop hearing about it – and your business will suffer.
In the same way, countless hotels have made overtures to stubborn wellness trends by converting dusty gyms into vibrant yoga studios, offering free ‘running tours’ of the city, or switching to eco-friendly bath products and locally-produced food. These are the things more and more guests aspire to, so hotels are going to step up and provide.
Hyatt has decided to make a splash by going much deeper than that. With the naming of Mia Kyricos to the position of Senior Vice President, Global Head of Wellbeing, the brand is making a clear bid to infuse its operations with a commitment to wellness.
In a recent interview with Skift, Kyricos does a good job explaining what it means to go beyond appearances and strive for a deeper commitment to wellness.
“We view well-being as more than spas, fitness centres, and healthy food options on an in-room dining menu.” She says. “We offer these types of amenities and options, but well-being at Hyatt is ultimately driven by our purpose –– we care for people so they can be their best.”
One of the main ways in which this commitment is manifesting for guests is a more enlightened approach to the concept of rewards. Hyatt is awarding points for engaging with the wellness brand exhale, which was acquired by Hyatt in 2017. A visit to the exhale web site, and a look at the top of the page, makes the connection with World of Hyatt (the rewards program) clear enough. The company has plans, of course, to expand the exhale brand, with direct integration into select hotel properties.
Cross-branding and partnerships are nothing new, of course. Many rewards programs have long lists of affiliates and cross-promotors – to the point where it starts to get confusing – but what we’re seeing now are big brands buying up fitness and wellness offerings and linking them to the hotel brand directly.
InterContinental Hotels Group is in on the action with its creation of EVEN Hotels, which was built physically around a wellness web site that previously existed (WellWellWell.com). The hotel embodies things like natural fragrances (eucalyptus on the linens), furniture that is ergonomic, and “in room training zones” for yoga and other bodyweight exercises. Close to home, Far East’s is also cashing in on the wellness craze with their Oasia brand hotels.
There are and will be many new specifics. We’ll probably see it happening more and more. Wellness is a great example of how the shifting nature of public sentiment has a direct effect on the way hotel brands navigate their way to success. We are an industry of tradition, certainly – but with the increase of global travel, and the expanding demographic of guests, history (and the hotel industry in particular) will probably find that there was a lot of economic traction gained by aligning with wellness principles.
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