This article was originally published on HospitalityTech.com by Ruben Mejia on January 4th, 2021 and can be read here.
The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the operations of almost every businesses and industry across the globe. From remote working to restaurant curbside pick-up to retail BOPIS (buy online pickup in store) industries adapted to new consumer habits and preferences. The same is true in the hotel sector where trends accelerated by the pandemic including cleaning protocols and in-room fitness are expected to become mainstays in 2021. Sustainability trends, which were on an upward trajectory prior to the pandemic, are also expected to pick up steam.
Cleaning protocols implemented during the pandemic are likely to remain the norm post-pandemic and even become a competitive differentiator for hotels. Skift recently reported that cleanliness not “location, location, location” provides a competitive edge and “has become one of the three most important factors in the road to recovery and, in the process, this is changing cleaning protocols and practices.”
Consumers are also continuing to make cleanliness a deciding factor on where to stay. A recent surveyby Honeywell found that 57% of U.S. survey participants ranked cleanliness/hygiene as the top criteria (57%) for selecting a travel brand or company — outranking cost and every other factor.
Fitness centers are one of the areas in hotels where guests will expect elevated cleaning protocols to continue post-pandemic. To offer a safe environment for guests to exercise and make cleaning more effective and efficient, hoteliers are turning to technology solutions.
Along with the low-tech presence of sanitizers and wipes for wiping down fitness equipment, hotels are using UV light technology in handheld sterilization wands as an effective means of cleaning hotel rooms and common areas such as fitness facilities. Electro spray devices and vapor-based devices are also being used to quickly and effectively clean every surface of the fitness area and the equipment within it.
During the pandemic, health-conscious consumers shifted workouts from the gym to home and this preference for home workouts is accelerating the hotel in-room fitness trend. Post-pandemic, many travelers will prefer in-room hotel fitness options to eliminate worry about being around others in a communal workout facility during their stay.
Post-pandemic, healthy lifestyles are becoming more important across generations. Self-care which includes physical fitness is especially a priority for millennials who, as the largest generational cohort, are a significant target market in the hospitality sector.
Hotels are keeping pace with this trend by offering in-room fitness experiences. Guestrooms are increasingly multi-tasking as fitness areas with intelligent fitness systems including on-demand virtual guided workouts, in wall personal trainers and the latest innovations in cycle bikes and treadmills. Other hotel strategies for offering in-room fitness include allowing fitness equipment to be ordered in the same way a guest would order room service and creating a new room category that combines the regular amenities of a guest room with a mini-gym for travelers who want to easily and conveniently keep up their fitness routines.
In 2021 hoteliers will be focusing on another type of wellness – environmental wellness. Traveler awareness of hotel sustainability initiatives and preferences for hotels with eco-friendly practices continues to grow. Research by Booking.com reveals that 72% of travelers believe that people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations. The research also found that 70% of global travelers say they would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were looking for a sustainable stay or not.
Gyms are typically large consumers of energy and hoteliers will be looking for ways to make them more environmentally friendly in 2021. Sustainable fitness equipment is one strategy hotels can leverage to reduce their carbon footprint. Innovative technology in electricity producing cycles and treadmills harness and convert human energy into sustainable clean energy that can power hotel fitness centers.
Not only can this sustainable gym equipment technology transform hotel fitness centers into a sustainable power plant of human energy, but it also meets traveler preferences for green initiatives. A 2016 survey on gym sustainability, which examined consumer preference when it comes to the option of sustainable and eco-friendly gym equipment, found that 62.4% of consumers prefer to work out at a fitness facility if it uses environmentally friendly equipment.
Sustainable gym equipment helps hotels reduce energy costs while providing a guest experience that includes eco-friendly practices. Sustainability practices also demonstrate the corporate social responsibility that can become a competitive differentiator for hotels.
The hotel sector, one of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, continues to adapt and innovate to welcome guests back and keep them safe. In 2021, the industry will leverage technology to elevate cleaning protocols to give guests peace of mind, expand in-room fitness options for guests with innovative fitness technology and meet imperatives to reduce their carbon footprint with the advanced technology of sustainable gym equipment.