The Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) should be applauded for announcing its plans to open a new concept in hotels. Even hotels plan to be Wellness hotels for travellers, opening the first one in 2013. The strap-line for Even Hotels says ” Healthier travel has a new best friend”. The idea is a welcome change to the traditional fare offered by the current mix of hoteliers around the world. I suspect it will be welcomed by any business travellers and frequent fliers who prize health’s role in being productive while on business travel.
The challenge of staying healthy while on the road is one of the most perplexing problems business travellers and frequent fliers face, especially if they are health conscious. Hotels have not always been a willing partner in helping travellers achieve their aims. The experience can be quite hit and miss from hotel to hotel and even within hotels of the same chain.
IHG has spent 18 months researching and talking to over 4000 customers before setting out on this venture, and plans to invest US$150 million in it over the next 3 years.
The Even hotel website shows off a gallery of what an Even hotel might look like. It presents a fresh roomy modern semi minimalist feel. The core idea is built around making sure you get the best out of exercise, rest, your diet and your work space while on the road.
To sink US$150 million into this project would suggest some pretty strong conclusions and for IHG’s sake I hope they are right. There is no denying that anyone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road struggles at the moment but other research suggests they are in a tiny minority. A survey appearing in Buying Business Travel conducted by Choice Hotels Europe graphs what business travellers say they really want from their hotel stays in order of importance they are –
24hr Security/ Reception,
Early Check-In/Late Check-Out,
Onsite Restaurant, Business Centre,
Airport Transfers and
Fitness ranking last is not a good sign for a venture such as this. You could point to demographics as a possible culprit, as Europeans and Americans hold different ideas where the culture of fitness is concerned. I must add that I have no knowledge of the demographics of the participants of either IHG or Choice Hotel Group surveys.
My own take on the challenge this project may face is that IHG are neglecting a valuable partner in big business. Big business went global a while ago and it’s nature now determines that a mobile work force performs at the top of their game regardless of jet lag and other business travel irritants. IHG needs to connect with these business leaders to help them achieve a common purpose and serve that need with the likes of the Even Hotel brand.
It is time for big business to stop putting up with lost productivity due to travel fatigue, jet lag and corporate burn out. The way to do this is to walk the talk of “our people are our best assets” by investing with partners like IHG so their people are served better while on the road. It is like I said in a previous blog about the subject, it is no longer enough for corporations to book their people in business class when flying anymore. Big business has leverage but they don’t seem to know how to use it in the best interests of their mobile workforce. It would seem IHG is a very willing partner.
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via Christopher BABAYODE’s blog at Ecademy http://www.ecademy.com/node.php?id=176695