There is a new breed of hotel guests emerging who are looking for innovative ways to work out as part of their hotel experience. We look at the hotels that are vying to attract the fittest guests and just how they are going about it.
8am on a weekday morning and usually most hotels are fairly quiet, waking for the breakfast rush to kick in and the ‘wake-up’ period to begin. Step foot inside the hotel’s gym however, and it’s often a different story.
Men and women, business and leisure guests, all pounding the treadmills and hotstepping on the cross trainers, taking their fitness regime seriously even when on holiday or away for the night. It’s clear that the hotel gym has never seen so much action.
Savvy hotels have already noticed this trend and are subsequently ramping up their fitness efforts as a result. More consumers are integrating a workout into their hotel stay, and are on the hunt for innovative exercises to keep up with their fitness schedule. From blinged-up equipment and trendy workouts to freshly-made vegetable juice bars, what started as trends amongst the ultra-luxe hotel set in London are filtering through to the mainstream.
“Consumers don’t just want to relax when they go on holiday,” explains Robert Thompson, managing director of Club Dance Holidays, “they want to discover, explore and expand their interests. Fitness and health is becoming far more understood and the general public are really understanding the importance of integrating this into their lives.”
Go one better
Like every other element within a hotel, consumers are seeking to experience better than they do at home. Whether that’s a more comfortable bed, fine dining facilities or top quality coffee on the in-room tray, the expectations from guests have never been greater. Now a hotel’s gym and fitness breaks also come under the microscope, forcing hotels to really up their game to guarantee guest satisfaction. With the likes of neighbourhood gyms Virgin Active and The Gym hosting some very discerning members and offering top-of-the-range equipment and trendy workout programmes, hotels need to make sure they are going one step further to give their guests something extra.
Matt Tailby, director of fitness development and operations, Europe, Hilton Worldwide, says: “Guests are looking for hotels that provide the same gym experience that’s available to them at their local gym. They are expecting hotel gyms to keep up with the latest trends in fitness for group exercise and functional training equipment. They want specifically designed training zones with quality, well-maintained equipment that incorporates the latest fitness technology. By providing guests with the ability to sync their workout to personal apps like Strava and MyFitnessPal, they can maintain their fitness program and track their progress even when they’re travelling.”
Get down to business
For a lot of business guests, using the gym at a hotel has become second nature as they seek to continue their regime whilst travelling. This has spurred hotels to offer flexible gym packages and workout routines, to fit in with the busy corporate guest’s schedule.
Jason Adams, general manager at Foxhills Club & Resort, explains how he has noticed a rise in demand for gym time from women under the business traveller umbrella. “The type of people ultilising our fitness breaks on offer at the moment are those travelling for business, especially those coming to us before or after a flight from nearby Heathrow, and especially women aged 25-40 years,” he adds.
We’ve seen how consumers have become much more focused on food provenance and quality – the rise of the super food trend and importance of local sourcing are testament to this – and as a result are much more aware of their bodies, how they treat them and what goes into them. Keeping fit plays a part in all of this too, boosted by the media’s promotion of living well.
“I think reality TV programmes are changing everyone’s perceptions on body image,” says Stuart Cran, general manager at Hilton Edinburgh Airport. “We’ve seen a larger amount of hotel guest using our gym than previous years, and there is much more focus from both men and women around the weights’ section and resistance-based classes.”
The dance craze
Robert Thompson is MD at Club Dance Holidays, a company that has been using hotels to run its packages for 15 years and has been in the UK for 3 or 4 years. Hotels offer the right fit for Club Dance Holidays, as they provide the right facilities; a town centre location, food and beverage services and often a dance floor plus large workout space. So where has Thompson seen growth within the business over the last decade?
“Dance holidays, especially Zumba are growing at the rate of knots,” he explains. “We have worked with a range of hotels throughout the UK, especially focusing on seaside towns and every year demand grows.
“Currently our Zumba weekends are always fully booked and we are already 50% full for 2016. We are currently arranging for more weekends in 2016 to supply the demand.”
How you promote your fitness offering at your hotel will be vital to its success. Keeping quiet on the innovative new package you’re running or simply sticking up posters on the walls of your gym will simply not suffice. Tell guests upon check-in, advertise the promotion on in-room TVs and send out direct mailers to spread the word before guests arrive to maximise the potential of your fitness suite being a hit.
Stuart Cran, general manager at Hilton Edinburgh Airport says: “We mainly use social media, through the hotel’s Facebook page and the club-specific Facebook pages; also getting the team to share the posts allowing their friends an opportunity to attend. We also use contacts at local businesses to encourage their teams to come along and attend.”
Carlo Capaldi, general manager, Hilton Strathclyde said, “We make sure that all guests receive a copy of the fitness class schedule when they arrive. Trainers are available in the gym to assist guests who are using any equipment for the first time. Guests are given the option to book personal training sessions ahead of their visit to ensure availability. We also offer business guests the option to add a Les Mills fitness classes as a team building opportunity when they’re hosting workshops and business training meetings at the hotel.”