Democratizing Wellbeing: How COVID-19 Will Accelerate Desire for Wellness

Emlyn Brown, VP, wellbeing, AccorHotels’ luxury and upper upscale brands, described to us the “virtuous circle of profitability” wellbeing could create in a hotel, commenting: “What’s the ROI of wellness and wellbeing? What we do know is that the wellness traveller spends far more on a property than a standard leisure traveller and that makes them a very important guest profile for us. Wellness is also highly attractive—it is a significant pull factor for a guest, it draws them into a property. When you are offering wellness as a chance to offer a personal experience for the guests, you have the chance to delight them—and create return visits.”

In line with trends across the sector, Brown had seen the impact of the pandemic as “a super accelerator for wellness, because what it’s saying to people is that you need to take into control your own personal health and wellbeing and, then, it’s a significant push factor from a mental health and overall stress and lifestyle point of view. The expectation of a guest will be even more focused on their health and wellbeing and I think that the three main areas on how to address that are through nutrition, at the center of a menu, not just on the edge, then the exercise and movement experience, not just in the gym but into the room, into outside events—those type of things will be important—and, thirdly, the mental health and wellbeing. There’s a natural decompress that will happen when a guests comes to a property.”

Despite Brown’s focus being primarily with the luxury sector, where he said, the group saw the majority of its opportunity, “on a broader note, the democratization of wellness and wellbeing is vital. The younger generations—Millennials and Gen Z—are significant proponents in terms of exercise and therefore the opportunity to broaden that across different brands subject to cost, is there. Access to things like great nutrition, access to sports facilities, is becoming more democratized, you’ll see that across our other brands going forward, getting into the midscale brands. Wellness is part of people’s everyday life and it needs to be matched and mirrored.

“We understand that at least three out of four of our guests are making a daily effort to improve their health and wellbeing and that needs to be nourished in terms of the opportunities they have on properties and in terms of the wellness spectrum. What we want to achieve is to be an industry leader in wellness and wellbeing within luxury hospitality and that’s why our department was formed and what it’s focused on.

“Wellness has been around for 2,000 years; it’s not a new element. What we do see is that wellness is an expectation and not a USP, it’s truly in the mainstream, it’s changed the way our guests think, how they consume. Our guests are more sophisticated in terms of their understanding of wellness and wellbeing and what it looks like. It’s now moved into F&B and into room design.

“We have our five pillars of wellness: Nutritional elements, how we design our properties, leveraging our spa, the mindfulness element, and the movement and exercise. Within each of our brands we look at where we’re going to put our focus in terms of attracting that particularly guests; so at Pullman fitness is a significant pull, more than the spa. What you’re doing is creating a song sheet to tailor your offering from.”

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