Fitness Matters: What Today's Traveler Wants & How to Exceed Expectations
By Bryan Green Founder & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products | April 02, 2010
The days of fitness as merely an ancillary concern or an afterthought for hotels and resorts are long gone. So many of today's business and vacation travelers make fitness and longevity a daily focus of their increasingly active lifestyles. But don't just take my word for it. A number of leading hotel brands have conducted extensive guest surveys, with fitness ranking on average as the second or third amenity priority for travelers when assessing and choosing a hotel. That's serious business indeed. In order to take the business of fitness seriously, its critical to understand what travelers are seeking to not only meet expectations, but to exceed them. This can only be achieved with a mindset that recognizes fitness as a critical component to customer satisfaction, and not merely as a trend. With that in mind, I'm here to help by providing a detailed look at the baseline elements your fitness offering needs to incorporate to keep your customers coming back.
Location, Location, Location
In the business world, whether a retail store, a restaurant, a hotel or any other consumer-focused business, location is critical. This is no different for your facility's fitness center. The whole idea of a fitness center is for guests to actually USE it. To this point, first and foremost, the fitness center needs to be easily accessible. If your guests need to consult a complex directory of the property and a compass to find it, then having the latest and greatest equipment won't make a difference. The location should also be pleasant and inviting. No one wants to exercise in a dark and dreary basement or the stark confines of a converted guest room where beds and baths have simply been replaced with treadmills and dumbbells. A fitness center needs to exude the same sense of vitality that is produced by exercise itself. Therefore lighting is critical. The room should be bright and if possible, capitalize on natural light through windows that also bring in the facility's natural surroundings. If at all possible, choose locations that allow for this. The Ritz Carlton in Dana Point, CA comes to mind as a great example. The hotel's fitness center is designed to capitalize on location, with massive bay windows that capture breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. If views like this aren't a luxury you have to offer, than focus on bright, vibrant lighting and the use of color schemes that maximize available lighting and capture the sense of energy that's critical to any exercise environment.
A Balanced Offering
Whether your allotted fitness space is vast or limited, the next key is a space that's properly planned for exercise "balance." Too often, facilities narrow the offering to treadmills and other popular cardiovascular equipment, and fail to include sufficient strength training elements such as dumbbells, adjustable benches or cable based strength machines. An imbalanced offering that favors a single modality or training method leaves you open to ignoring the basic fitness needs of a significant number of guests. Despite the fact that new fitness trends are constantly emerging, the "staples" of cardio and strength training continue to be irreplaceable to a balanced fitness offering. Making sure these "staples" are balanced will be critical to maintaining customer satisfaction.