Hotel and resort guests don’t just want to be pampered. They want to recharge and get inspired to improve their overall health and well-being. Hospitality brands can drive demand if they take this to heart and integrate wellness offerings in meaningful ways throughout the customer journey.
Coming out of the pandemic, travelers are craving experiences that can keep them healthy, boost their immune systems, and help them achieve physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
According to a global survey by American Express, 68 percent of travelers said they are likely to base their next trip around improving their mental well-being, and 41 percent confirmed their interest in booking hotels that provide wellness activities. A recent Accor research study on guest satisfaction identified that guests who gave positive feedback about on-property wellness experiences were 38 percent more likely to be highly satisfied with their hotel stay, and that a highly satisfied guest is 14 percent more likely to return.
Indeed, Accor is embracing wellness as an increasingly important component of its guest journey and overarching business strategy. The hotel group — with 40+ luxury, premium, midscale, and economy hotel brands comprising more than 5,300 properties in 110 countries — offers an array of experiences, amenities, and programs that promote physical, spiritual, and mental health.
Understanding Why Wellness Matters Now
“Consumers today understand that they need to own their health and immunity in a different way than before the pandemic,” said Emlyn Brown, global vice president of well-being at Accor. “Our ability to deliver an authentic, holistic, and highly considered wellness offering is vital.”
During the pandemic, an unprecedented number of people built healthy routines around diet, exercise, and mindfulness. Now, as they consider where they want to base themselves for extended holidays that combine leisure and work, their travel decisions are influenced not only by the destination but also by an expectation for unique hotel experiences, spa and fitness offerings, meditation and mindfulness, and nutritional food and beverage options.
Historically, wellness has primarily been associated with the luxury and premium segments, but Accor is on a mission to democratize wellness, said Brown. “We want to make wellness accessible to everybody across all of our different brands and move it away from being seen as an ultra-luxury thing. Four out of five of our guests, irrespective of age, demographics, or country, are taking a daily step to improve their well-being — so we need to meet and exceed that demand, whether it’s from an ibis hotel in Sao Paulo or an Orient Express location in Rome.”
Implementing Wellness Across Accor’s Diverse Brand Portfolio
Implementing consistent wellness messaging and authentic offerings across such a diverse global portfolio requires “foundational support at the brand level and encouragement for operational teams to develop, nurture, and deliver authentic experiences at the local level,” Brown said.
So what do some of these authentic wellness experiences look like? At Accor’s properties in the Canadian Rockies, guests can take outdoor yoga and meditation classes; at the Raffles Bali, butlers are trained to lead mindfulness, meditation, and healing practices that reflect Balinese traditions; and across Accor’s portfolio, offerings that support physical and spiritual health are complemented by efforts to help with emotional and mental well-being. “It’s so refreshing that the mental health discussion has taken center stage in our society,” Brown said. “We’re finally having open conversations about how we can support and improve mental health and well-being.”
Guests who stay in one of Novotel’s “executive” rooms receive a complimentary 60-day pass to the Calm app, which supports sleep and relaxation with guided meditations and masterclasses on cultivating mindfulness. The “vitality” rooms and suites at Swissôtel offer enhanced amenities — think pillow menus, Peloton bikes, and Lunya sleeping masks — designed to boost the body’s natural circadian rhythms and promote sleep. “Sleep is probably the biggest piece for us as a hotel group,” Brown said. “We really want to own sleep and be the best at creating environments that are conducive to getting a good night’s rest.”
Making a Business Case for Wellness in Hospitality
Committing to wellness can significantly boost a hotel’s bottom line. Brown cited three key takeaways on why wellness is such a critical part of Accor’s business model.
“First, wellness travelers spend more money,” he said. “In fact, they spend 55 percent more on average than typical leisure travelers. That means more suite and spa bookings, longer length of stay, and higher-end food and beverage purchases. That’s just a fact.”
According to Brown, the second takeaway is how the “surprise and delight” element of wellness drives referrals and repeat business. “We went through all of our guest feedback, and guests with the highest referral rates experienced our wellness offerings — they were impacted emotionally by those experiences and associated them with our brands. Authentic word of mouth is our most powerful marketing tactic.”
Word-of-mouth marketing also connects to Brown’s third takeaway, aspirational wellness: “There are 8.5 million conversations per month about wellness on social media, and we want to be part of those conversations,” Brown said. “Right now, my Instagram feed includes people doing yoga and Tai Chi in Bali; SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp in New York; and people touting the health benefits of paleo diets and intermittent fasting in their stories. We want to be able to match and mirror these highly aspirational activities for our guests.”
Accor believes that providing a dynamic fitness experience that guests will want to share with their friends and followers is more important than simply boasting a state-of-the-art gym. “You are where you exercise,” Brown said. “It’s about creating a community.” To that end, Pullman Hotels & Resorts, one of Accor’s premium brands, recently introduced its boutique fitness brand, Pullman Power Fitness, and the Pullman Fitness Squad, made up of a group of global fitness ambassadors that host invigorating bootcamps.
Leading the Wellness Conversation
Beyond bringing innovative wellness amenities and experiences to life, Accor is driving the wellness-in-hospitality conversation forward through its Health to Wealth initiative, which brings together a diverse group of global wellness experts and changemakers in a thought-provoking and informative podcast series. “We want to democratize the debate around the wellness of the world around us, the health of our communities and food systems, and educate listeners about other big picture ideas and challenges,” Brown said.
Among the many “exceptional contributors” to the podcast series — including Wim Hof, the Dutch motivational speaker who advocates a stress-reducing method that combines meditation, breathing exercises, and exposure to cold — Brown singled out Saasha Celestial-One, founder of OLIO, the global food-sharing app that helps combat food waste. “In the podcast, Saasha notes that 30 percent of all food produced is thrown away, and that equates to 10 percent of all global warming,” Brown said. “That really blew me away. The number one conversation we should be having in hospitality right now is how can we change that.”
As Celestial-One herself said, “We’re all on this planet together, and when part of us isn’t doing well or isn’t nurtured, then it affects our entire collective organism. And that, to me, felt like a very natural way to think about the social, human, and planetary interconnectedness that is coming to light in this Health to Wealth podcast series.”
Brown sees this democratizing spirit of wellness as fundamental to the future of hospitality. “The goal of hospitality is to provide a warm welcome, spirit of caring, and sense of well-being,” he said. “For Accor, wellness is absolutely primary to the hospitality experience, not just within luxury but across all of our brands.”