January 2019 – Edition 20

ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT

A glut of new hotel openings is scheduled for 2019. That’s hardly surprising: according to the World Travel Monitor international outbound tourism grew by 6% in the first eight months of 2018. And 2019 is forecast to see further global growth, notwithstanding some geopolitical uncertainty, especially in the US and the UK.

Increased hotel supply is excellent news in terms of consumer choice. However it does place increased pressure on existing properties to stay relevant and unique, to retain appeal and to be competitive on price.

The best of this year’s luxury hotel and retreat openings have been rounded up in two new publications, the Robb Report and an article by Fathom, revealing a proliferation of wellness activities, from spa and adventure to equine therapy, and with nature also featuring strongly. What has yet to be captured, experienced and articulated, though, is how cultural brand values and meaningful human connection are brought to life at the core of service delivery and guest nurture. This, at a time when we know that spiritual pursuit is on the rise; that is, a desire to connect to one’s profound purpose, a sense of being a part of something greater than ourselves beyond the physical or material world.

“What has yet to be captured… is how cultural brand values and meaningful human connection are brought to life at the core of service delivery and guest nurture”

Essentially, properties of every type will need to know and understand their guests’ needs more than ever before. And not only their needs, what they care about. That will include sustainability and equality, societal values and the verifiable contribution of the venues and countries they decide to patronise. Make no mistake, the consumer is leading.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

TRANSPARENCY VALUE AT EVERY TURN

Workplace wellbeing programmes continues to grow in terms of traction and demand, but not without attracting a degree of scrutiny. It’s only to be expected for any trend moving from niche to a more mainstream spotlight; anything being presented for ‘buy in’, whether by employees or customers, will require transparency – and a base of factual evidence.

RAND Europe, a research institution, has carried out research which found that obvious bad habits such as smoking and high alcohol consumption were not associated with lower productivity; indeed the biggest productivity problems are associated with sleep, financial concerns and mental health issues, more likely to be directly related to work stress.

The best morale booster companies can provide is through culture and leadership that demonstrates genuine interest in employee welfare. This highlights why a base of factual evidence will serve companies and businesses best, but the less tangible cultural commitment of caring and nurture will always deliver. An observation made in last week’s edition is just as relevant here: “Businesses and the shaping of strategy will need to be constantly on notice to the social trends and politics surrounding them.” This is also true from an employee-facing perspective.

“The best morale booster companies can provide is through culture and leadership that demonstrates genuine interest in employee welfare”

In advertising, 2019 presents a new dawn in factual presentation of products over an aspirational one. A new European regulation will come into force on April 1st that will require companies operating in the EU to adopt slogans that are factually accurate and to do so by the end of 2019 or face fines of up to 2% of global annual revenue. ‘Will honesty pay?’ is the real question, and so long as employers and companies are not trying to fool anyone the answer should be, yes.

But for an industry very used to aspirational flair and descriptions peppered with superlatives, this may be easier said than done. Straightforward simplicity is the advertising sexy of 2019.

Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence

NATURAL REMEDY

There’s a certain synergy between the trend for spending more time with nature and the outdoors, and the therapy known as digital detox.

First, there is a small but growing, social media backlash aimed particularly at Instagram. ‘Instagram deaths’ are a phenomenon whereby people have lost their lives trying to get the perfect shot in precarious and even dangerous locations. But on a much broader scale, the attention that Instagram has brought to natural beauty spots has become a thorn in their heel. Unsustainable crowds and over tourism are prompting destinations to take action.

The backlash extends into cities. In Autumn 2018, the city of Vienna launched an anti social media campaign with the slogan “Welcome to Vienna. Not #Vienna.” The Ayana Resort in Bali, meanwhile, put an enforced digital detox ruling in place by banning mobile phones around their pool, to encourage guests to have uninterrupted time out.

Recognition of the dangers of addiction, amidst the knowledge that screens are here to stay is also driving a ‘slow social’ cultural evolution and remedy. It’s similar to the antidote for fast food – slow food became about savouring flavours and ingredients and appreciation of the product. Slow social is similar: it is about being present with content, reading properly, sharing thoughtfully and not allowing the addictive greed for endless updates to take over and hijack time to savour.

“Immersion in nature and acknowledgement of the opportunity to ‘feel better’ for little or no cost is helping to put wellbeing into the mainstream”

If slow social is a corrective remedy, then re-wilding is cold turkey. It is screen free adventure. It is open-water swimming, mud trail biking, camping under the stars and taking small steps that combine several hours of screen-free time with the liberation of the outdoors. Immersion in nature and acknowledgement of the opportunity to ‘feel better’ for little or no cost is helping to put wellbeing into the mainstream, rather than a niche category.

As a hotel chain or travel company, it’s time to tune in to the natural reserves on your doorstep. Partner with or create options for guests to re-connect at the end of busy, stressful days. Even in cites, this is possible – 2019 will see the launch of London becoming a National Park City because of the 41 nature reserves within its boundaries. Why not gift every guest with a unique evidence-based wellbeing programme? You don’t need to be a ‘wellness property’ to do it!

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

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