HOME FITNESS: GYMS GET A SHAKE UP
Home fitness is making a big comeback, helped by tech engineers from Silicon Valley. In the past few months, two tech start-ups have made their debuts, supported by millions of dollars in venture funding. San Francisco-based Tonal describes itself as “the world’s most intelligent fitness system”, while New York City-based Mirror bills itself as “the nearly invisible interactive home gym”.
What both companies offer is streaming workouts into their customers’ apartments or offices. To do this, each uses its own wall-mounted fitness system combining software and an interactive LED screen with electromagnetic weights and cables.
They are following in the steps of Peloton, which has successfully pioneered the concept, allowing customers to join live biking classes at home via a big monitor.
“The new tech start ups… can stream workouts into their customers’ apartments or offices”
If this trend gains traction (and it might: Peloton recently raised capital at a $4 billion valuation), it is set to disrupt the fitness sector, making the situation for many well-established fitness brands and premises-based gym chains perilously uncomfortable.
Thierry Malleret, C-founder and Director, Well Intelligence
ROLL UP FOR THE MYSTERY TOUR
Dubbed the ‘Netflix for travel’, BRB (Be Right Back) is an innovative new travel platform that soft launched in May this year in London. The subscription-based model seeks to take the hassle out of travel; for £49 per month you get three two-night trips per year (valued at £199 each) that include flights and accommodation. The twist is that you don’t know where you’re going until four weeks beforehand. This has an edge for a few reasons: 1) it eliminates planning time, procrastination and effort; 2) it provides a sense of adventure, surprise and fun; and 3) it removes a big financial hit – and optimises value for money.
BRB has echoes of another travel enterprise, the Extraordinary Adventure Club, though at a significantly different price point. With that operator, the traveller has no idea where they are going until they board the plane.
This new model of travel has a visionary feel that is based in the reality of ‘now’ in the UK. But it’s also of great relevance for the future. Financial anxiety is expected to increase whatever the Brexit outcome; BRB makes the planning and affordability of travel less stressful while offering four European city breaks per year for the price of an annual gym membership. Could it be seen as a better investment?
“This new model of travel has a visionary feel that is based in the reality of ‘now’ in the UK”
Primary wellness travel (specific to a dedicated wellbeing experience such as a yoga or detox retreat) tends to be more expensive and the price is often the biggest barrier. Spreading the cost of purchase – already an established practice for consumer goods – can only help. With consumers increasingly valuing experience over commodities, leading time starved lives and experiencing a squeeze on purse strings, this is one trend set to resonate.
Anni Hood, Co-founder and Chief Executive, Well Intelligence
THE HUMAN TOUCH
Showing your humanity through simple gestures can make a huge difference to customer experience – and nowhere is that more important than in the hospitality sector.
The recent stories of alleged ‘forced hugging’ at fashion retailer Ted Baker showed that physical interaction can easily be taken too far – especially when the culture isn’t consistent throughout the organization. Hugging often is proven to have health benefits ranging from lowered blood pressure to protection against infection as a result of increased oxytocin levels. This may indeed have been the Ted Baker mission.
There’s a great deal of evidence that the way we interact has a significant effect on people’s sense of wellbeing. In recent research on migration, it was found that within months of arrival, migrants picked up the happiness level of their new location by emulating the social habits of those around them and in turn mirroring their life satisfaction levels.
“Touching someone’s hand or arm to let them know you care matters enormously – and it costs nothing”
And in the workplace, it seems (anecdotally at least) that leaders, especially male, are on their guard more than they used to be when it comes to natural human responses. Yet the instinct to place an arm around the shoulder of someone in distress or to touch someone’s hand or arm to let them know you care matters enormously – and it costs nothing. Despite mounting evidence of the large scale impact of closer relationships impacting longer life (both socially and in the workplace) it is not yet acknowledged as a factor comparable to other public health priorities.
In hospitality and travel, the interaction between guests and travelers, and the staff representing the hospitality or travel brand, inevitably has a great impact on how customers feel. Getting the culture right is vital. At its most rewarding, and at very little cost, that means a culture that is empathetic, consistent and unashamedly human.