Are hotels fully recognising the desire of guests to stay fit on their business trips or vacations? That’s one of the questions discussed at last week’s HOTEC 2017 event in Prague, which brought together leading hotel operators and managers with suppliers of products and services to the sector.
For millions of leisure and business travellers, the days of a hotel room being just ‘a place to crash’ are gone. There’s a hunger for more, extending all the way across the experience. That includes a demand for better fitness facilities, so are hotel operators embracing the changes in customer expectations?
PEOPLE WANT MORE FROM THEIR HOTEL STAYS
Today, choosing a hotel room is all about choice and transparency. On hotel booking sites we can instantly compare each hotel’s amenities, from free wi-fi and parking to pet-friendly rooms and 24-hour concierge services. Some of these amenities are ‘must haves’ for many people: millions won’t stay at a hotel without a pool, for example. A gym is also essential for many, but now there’s a big change in the type of gym facilities they look for.
Someone with extensive personal experience of what hotel customers are looking for is Johnny Owen, Escape’s new Account Manager for the Asia Pacific region. Johnny spent many years in the hospitality sector, including with award-winning luxury hospitality brands in Edinburgh (UK), Phuket (Thailand) and Doha (Qatar).These properties all created superb fitness facilities and experiences as part of new spa and fitness centres.
Most recently, Johnny worked at Six Senses, known for a no-compromise approach to hotels, resorts and spas. Now, he is helping other hotel properties on a similar journey as a member of the Escape team.
With 10+ years in the spa and hospitality industry, Johnny has a good insight into what hotel guests want: “Many people love working out and won’t stay at a hotel unless it provides equipment or exercise options similar to what they use in their local gym. When travelling on business in particular, after a long and stressful day of meetings, a great workout is often seen as essential to unwind the body and mind. Having a good quality gym onsite is just as important as a quality room, restaurant or other facilities.”
THE CHANGING FACE OF FITNESS
For millions of regular gym-goers, a few treadmills, exercise bikes and weight machines won’t satisfy them when travelling. They need more variety and a whole body training experience. Johnny explains: “Two of the biggest booms in fitness right now are CrossFit and boutique studios. There are more than 13,000 CrossFit gyms in 120 countries, with an estimated four million people regularly doing CrossFit workouts. The boutique sector is also huge, and growing every day.
“What these two styles of facility have in common is that they steer away from CV and fixed resistance machines. We’re talking functional training; varied circuits, high-intensity interval training and strength training with free-weights. These are engaging exercise experiences that people want to let their friends and ‘followers’ see.”
There are great examples of hotel brands revisiting their fitness offerings to keep up with what customers want. Like Marriott, whose innovations include on-demand video workouts that incorporate functional equipment. Westin are also investing in fitness, with innovations such as ‘Gear Lending’ New Balance clothing and shoes to guests, and in-room fitness equipment.
In the UK, Nutfield Priory (pictured below) recognised the way that fitness is changing and, with Escape’s help, created studio and functional training zones, complemented by a full class timetable. This complements the hotel’s pool and spa facilities, so anyone staying at the hotel can enjoy a complete experience, from the most relaxing body massage to a full-on HIIT workout.
But hotel gyms still too often reflect an outdated view of fitness, with treadmills and exercise bikes dominating the space. Many brands – even at the luxury end of the market – aren’t paying enough attention to what customers nowadays want from gym facilities.
As Johnny Owen says: “Take a look at many hotel and spa websites and the story is largely the same. Their pictures show stunning swimming pools, treatment rooms and spa facilities. But pictures of their gyms, regardless of how new they are, often look outdated in comparison, with rows of treadmills and exercise bikes in bland, tired looking spaces.
EXTENDING PEOPLE’S FITNESS REGIMES INTO THEIR TRAVEL
The ability to instantly compare the fitness facilities of dozens of hotels online means that people across all demographics are more savvy and more choosey than ever. Travellers are increasingly looking for the type of amenities they are used to experiencing when they are not on the road. Hotels that invest in facilities that meet this demand are set to become the go-to destinations for millions of fitness-savvy consumers.
It’s a subject we’ll be returning to in future Escape blogs. Next time, we’ll look at some scenarios in which hotels can leverage more revenue from their fitness spaces, including by tapping into the huge market for wellness tourism.
ESCAPE’S SOLUTIONS FOR HOSPITALITY FITNESS
Escape Fitness is working with a number of hotel operators worldwide on the creation of new fitness spaces and experiences. As well as our huge range of functional training equipment and gym design expertise, we also have solutions for technology–based programming to help guests get more from their workouts. The FunXtion Interactive workout station and Escape Your Limits app each provide gym users with guidance on how to use functional equipment in a series of specially-created workouts and exercises.
Please contact us for more information about how Escape can help hotels to create outsanding fitness environments and experiences: email@example.com