LIFESTYLE THE NEW LUXURY
Perception of luxury is no longer so clear-cut as it used to be. The trappings of a classic luxury delivery model are still sought after. However the components such as the gym, spa, business centre, beach club and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) space require real depth and relevance; they need to be more than just a qualifier.
The development of lifestyle-orientated hotels present a particular challenge to the luxury model.
Owners want the best ROI they can get. This hasn’t changed but the components that owners want from hotel operators are evolving. IHG’s recent $300million acquisition of Six Senses, and Hyatt’s purchase of Exhale and the Miraval Group last year, both illustrate the desire by large global players to bring wellbeing and lifestyle expertise into their fold.
“More agile companies are making in-roads into the market space. Not necessarily by being better with the end product, but by being more versatile.”
We can see that more agile companies are making in-roads into the market space. Not necessarily by being better with the end product, but by being more versatile. Uber and Airbnb are classic examples: they are not so much reinventing taxi and accommodation services, as introducing a slicker, more convenient (and effective) technology that matches to a resonant brand identity.
Two routes are emerging: the first is a cultivated one-stop-shop that means skills, expertise and necessary modelling are brought beneath the big flag umbrellas, such as Hyatt and IHG. The alternative is a core-skill collaboration that brings smaller, and potentially more agile companies together enabling fast delivery and, potentially, a higher rate of return.
Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence
CLEANER BREATHING BETTER SLEEPING
Under the umbrella of sleep quality, there’s a broad scale of effectiveness in terms of what does – and doesn’t – deliver results. Results that encompass both financial return for hotel operators, and genuine health gain for hotel guests.
Air quality is now recognised as a significant factor in delivering good sleeping experience, and increasingly, hotels are adding air purifiers and filtration systems to their rooms and gaining a reported 5-7% premium on room rate by doing so. There are two key drivers for this investment:
• pollution in the air outside, resulting in correspondingly por air quality inside the property;
• demand from guests who have current health issues or who wish to avoid developing them.
According to the World Health Organisation, some 90% of the world’s population breathes polluted air and so it’s no surprise that demand for cleaner air is increasing. Products by brands such as Molekule, Pure Wellness (Pure Rooms) and Delos (Stay Well) are all making inroads on the hotel room market. Pure Rooms’ cleaning and air filtering technology is reported to provide between 50-70% Internal rate of Return (IRR) based on a £3100 investment over two years.
“Air quality is now recognised as a significant factor in delivering good sleeping experience”
In 2020, meanwhile, IKEA is set to launch the Gunrid curtain, a product that cleans the air without using electrical power but through applying a “mineral based photocatalyst” that is activated when it comes into contact with light.
When it comes to improving guests’ sleep quality, it’s important to separate the measures that make a real impact from the gimmicky alternatives. Air quality, room temperature, circadian lighting and blackout blinds, are all proven to be effective. Eye pillows and ‘calming’ quotes can be nice personalised additions – but they won’t deliver the same results.
Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence
SMART TOUCH TECH
If you haven’t heard about haptic technology (otherwise known as kinesthetic communication) then you will do very soon. For the uninitiated, this is a technology that recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user.
Beta tests are underway and futurist Thomas Frey talks about how it will change the clothes we wear: “Eventually the technology becomes invisible and somehow it just feels better. With a little AI the clothing learns who you are, understands your pressure points, and simply learns how to be an extension of your own body. All other clothing will seem foreign. Wearers won’t want to know how it works, just that it does.”
“With a little AI the clothing learns who you are, understands your pressure points, and simply learns how to be an extension of your own body.”
Smart clothing has already come to market via brands such as Spinalli Design, which has created jeans containing a GPS receiver, and a bikini that will let you know when you’ve had too much sun. The Women of Wearables (WOW) professional network has showcased high tech gloves that can translate sign language into text or speech; and an Australian based company called Wearable Experiments has produced a range of yoga apparel incorporating haptic tech that helps you improve your form during yoga practice.
Asking anyone if they would like to feel better may be the most inclusive wellbeing question of all – 99% will answer positively. Haptic technology is an intuitive, sensory addition that can add an extra dimension to all kinds of experiences: whether personal or for guests, customers or workers.
This is a technology with enormous potential to create differentiation in hospitality, travel and workplaces. Expect to see it appear it in bedding, airplane seats, airport lounges, and to add extra dimensions to single sensory experiences that commoditise in a more tactile way.