Improving the Guest Experience by Improving Guest Health
These days, travelers have an abundance of options when looking for the right hotel to book. The rise in shared home accommodations like Airbnb and VRBO have elevated guest expectations for the entire hospitality industry. People are no longer just looking for a place to sleep. Now, personalized, unique, and innovative elements are critical to a successful guest experience. Former “luxury” amenities such as gourmet room service and spa facilities have become the baseline. Today’s ultimate guest experience is now largely driven by the comfort and convenience of technology, from voice-assisted in-room devices to smart-controlled thermostats.
As this area of the customer experience continues to evolve, the hospitality industry has an opportunity to take this guest interest in technology in a meaningful direction: health. Frequent travelers reportedly suffer from difficulty sleeping, increased anxiety, and even struggles with obesity. In addition to healthy food options and fitness facilities, hotels can provide a healthier stay for guests through the technology they offer.
With tens of millions of travelers needing accommodations annually, the hospitality industry has the opportunity to start considering this broad consumer interest in technology as an avenue to prioritize guests’ wellbeing.
Reducing travel stress through convenience and access
Before guests even check into their hotel for the night, they have most likely experienced the stress that goes along with traveling. Business travelers, in particular, are subject to the impact of frequent travel, with more than 70 percent reporting symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle including poor diet, lack of exercise, excess drinking, stress, mood swings, and even gastrointestinal problems. This means many guests are arriving at hotels already in a state of mental and physical stress.
Hotels can immediately start to alleviate this travel anxiety by offering a streamlined and convenient stay, start to finish. An estimated 80 percent of hotel guests travel with mobile devices, so digital integration is a key step to eliminating some of that friction before they even walk through the doors. Hotels can take this mobile experience a step further by making health services and amenities readily available in the hotel app such as, on-demand telemedicine, massage therapy and sleep therapy applications.
With business travel accounting for more than $282 billion of the U.S. travel and tourism industry alone, it’s in the hospitality industry’s best interest to keep these travelers healthy and returning.
Approaching sleep innovation beyond luxury bedding
Frequent travel can also negatively impact the most essential amenity that hotels have to offer: a good night’s sleep. Historically, efforts to improve sleep quality in guestrooms have centered around high-quality linens, deluxe mattresses, and noise-canceling technology, but research shows that air pollution is a significant contributing factor to poor sleep (not to mention increased migraines and increased depression).
Poor indoor air quality is a common issue in the hotel industry due to high foot traffic, the frequent use of cleaning products, and windows that cannot be routinely opened. Hotels should consider improved air quality as essential to the guest experience, in addition to the health and safety of their staff. IHG is just one example of a hotel brand taking steps to improve indoor air quality. It recently partnered with an air purification company whose technology destroys harmful airborne pollutants often found in guestrooms, such as VOCs, allergens and bacteria. The technology is said to improve sleep quality.
Building guest health into incentive and loyalty programs
People are becoming more invested in their personal health, and hotel brands around the globe are starting to respond to that by implementing well-being-focused experiences. The Four Seasons, for example, now offers “wellness rooms” for guests to relax in with de-chlorinating showers and guided meditations. While offering these experiences is certainly a start, the hospitality industry can actively encourage healthier lifestyles by incentivizing guests to engage with these services. And equally, travelers have the opportunity to start demanding amenities beyond traditional services, including demanding cleaner air in their rooms.
Similar to any loyalty program, hotels can make these health-focused offerings more attractive to guests by rewarding people for selecting them. With nearly 80 percent of consumers only considering brands that show they care and understand their individual needs, this type of rewards program is a strong demonstration of a hotel’s commitment to guest well-being.
Technology is the greatest guest engagement tool available to hospitality providers today. And while the number of new technology offerings seem infinite, choosing to implement innovations that enhance guest health should be a priority - because it’s what travelers want, too. Technology is ever-changing and evolving, but one thing is sure: If you present guests with an enjoyable and healthy stay, they are more likely to return.
Dilip Goswami is the Co-Founder and CEO of Molekule, a company on a mission to solve the global air pollution crisis by reimagining the future of clean air. Molekule harnesses a patented “PECO” technology, which uses incident light to enable a semiconductor material to promote a catalytic oxidation reaction. PECO is known to destroy pollutants, allergens, mold, bacteria, viruses, and airborne chemicals from the air we breathe, making it the only product on the market today that destroys a full spectrum of indoor air pollutant. Dilip holds an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Florida.