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SPOTLIGHT ON Mia Kyricos, President and Founder, Kyricos & Associates LLC

By Sharon Hirschowitz, Global Head of Media & Communications for The International Luxury Hotel Association
3 February 2021
5 min read
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Mia talks about gaining the consumer’s trust and seizing the opportunity to reimagine your hotel wellness offerings to offer a personalized experience that meets everyone’s desires while also ensuring ROI.

Wellbeing is at the forefront of people’s minds right now. How are hotels innovating their programming to respond to their guest’s desires?
This year, wellbeing has become synonymous with cleanliness and safety. During the pandemic and the temporary suspension of operations, hotels from select serve to luxury, have been upgrading their standards and protocols to care for the health and wellness of guests and colleagues alike. At the same time, they’ve had to innovate ways to both market and differentiate their latest commitments from the competition as these changes do not apply to a particular brand or segment, but instead, an entire industry forced to reestablish trust with its consumers.

The luxury segment has the added pressure of having to personalize the guest experience in a way that better accommodates what wellness and wellbeing means to each guest in a COVID world. The opportunity to reexamine all aspects of the guest experience and the potential impact to each individual dimension of wellness – whether emotional, physical, mental, spiritual or even social – is limitless.

How do you think the pandemic will alter the course of future wellness in luxury hotels as health is seen as the new wealth?
Humanity has been shaken to its core. This phenomenon will reduce consumer tolerance for the lip service and clever marketing historically associated with wellness, and instead require authenticity of service delivered with genuine care. Fortunately, this means that luxury hotels have the opportunity to shed services and/or repurpose facilities that no longer serve the guest and create or refine wellness experiences that are much more meaningful and efficacious in nature.

The opportunity to “clean house” now has both literal and figurative meaning; luxury hotels should only “furnish their homes” with truly beautiful, guest facilities, rituals and services that are not only attractive in nature but also stand to make memorable impact for each and every visitor.

How can technology add to the traditional and even mystical element of a hotel’s wellness program? Will digital wellness offerings become the norm?
Technology is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to delivering wellness-related services to luxury consumers. It will be critical for hotels to understand each guests’ relationship with technology, and their expectations of it during the hotel stay. For example, some guests have the expectation of high touch in a luxury setting while other travelers prefer more discreet experiences that do not necessarily require human interaction.

For this reason, technology plays a critical role in capturing guest preferences, and enabling exceptional guest service, whether behind the scenes, or while in the presence of guests. It can certainly add to the “mystique” of a hotel’s wellness program by helping to predict preferences and providing personalized services during each stay, particularly for repeat clientele.

Digital wellness will become the norm in destinations that are more urban in nature and can certainly help the delivery of service across location types. At the same time, consumers are “zoomed out”, and are clearly eager to live their lives, travel and experience different cultures again. For this reason, business hotels and leisure hotels in particular should expect periods of time where guests wish to disconnect from technology in order to reconnect to themselves and the world around them. In these instances, the power of touch, the ability to escape and experience nature, quiet moments of reflection or even connection with others, will far exceed the desire for digital wellness offerings.

What are the biggest challenges going forward for hoteliers and investors?
The biggest challenge for hoteliers will be to earn the trust of travelers again. It is a tall order for an industry that has been gravely impacted by the pandemic, but in many ways, the industry has the opportunity to start fresh, and earn that very first impression once again. Most travelers will not take safety for granted, and will therefore return to their favorite hotels and brands with some trepidation. Those hoteliers who prove that they remain the best, trusted choice in today’s world stand to earn an even greater level of loyalty than ever before.

Investors will need to ensure that both existing and developing hotels are making the very best use of space and operating dollars. Many have experienced a great deal of loss and as a result, will need to ensure that their hotels are indeed designed both physically and operationally for the greatest return on investment (ROI). At the same time, those investors who allow time and space for operators to truly impact the wellbeing of its guests – what we call return on wellness or ROW – will likely see the greatest ROI in the long run.

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