The Tipping Point

Fitness on the Road and on Vacation

It’s Sunday, the busiest day of the week for hotel check outs. A flurry of departing guests and their luggage streams through the lobby on their way to hail cabs or to duck into shuttles. But as you bid farewell to them politely and sincerely saying, “Come stay with us again soon,” do you wonder if they will (stay again)?

One of the key tenets of successful hoteliers the world over is that in order to increase hotel rankings, drive up bookings and ultimately boost revenues, you must create an exceptional experience for your guests. And that experience must be repeated wherever and whenever the guest comes to stay with you.

This principle is fundamental to the business model of successful hotels. Whether they have a 3, 4, or 5 star rating, creating and repeating exceptional experiences is the principle that has led to the rise in fitness center investment in hotels and spas around the world. State-of-the-art fitness facilities are viewed as a key differentiator to a very large number of travelers when they are choosing a hotel. Lieberman Research Worldwide reported that 62% of travelers check to see if a hotel has a fitness center when booking their stay.

What’s more, it keeps them coming back. The same survey showed that 69% said they favor a modern and well equipped fitness facility with state of the art equipment. Particularly resort hotels recognize that an excellent fitness center is imperative since every good travel agent is trying to give their client the best of everything within a single property.

But why would travelers choose to work out rather than sitting in the lounge sipping cocktails, or instead of lying in their California King-sized bed watching Pay Per View?

There isn’t just one answer, of course.

Rather there are three categories of answers. For the “Road Warrior” (aka business traveler), exercise is a way to relieve the stress of being on the road, to reenergize from jet lag and to maintain fitness goals away from home. For vacationers, exercise is often part of a spa escape to jump start a healthier lifestyle. According to Spa Finder (in their report on spa trends for 2007) wellness and cosmetic med spas are doing booming business. In 2007, more people than ever before traveled to another city, state or country for medical spa experiences.1 Also, if vacationers have exercise as a way of life at home, they want to continue their regimen since they know that they will be eating and drinking more!

So as you say farewell to your week’s guests, and wonder if you have done all you can to make them loyal customers, perhaps you should take a tour of your fitness facility, and ask yourself two questions:

  • Does your facility meet the high standards of your hotel brand?
  • Is your hotel’s fitness center a tipping point for the business traveler and the spa vacationer when they choose their next hotel?

About the author: Norman Siegel, Caribbean Resources, Inc

Norman Siegel is the Managing Director of Caribbean Resources Inc. supplying Cybex equipment to hotels in the Caribbean for over fifteen years. Norman Siegel is also a member of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) and participates in the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference every year.

1 Spa Finder Announces 4th Annual Spa Trends to Watch for Calendar Year 200, Spa Finder, November 1, 2006