“For me, it’s always important to say, who will take over tomorrow if I’m not there anymore. And that’s why I’m not somebody who keeps [the] knowledge to myself just to make myself indispensable and important. I’d like to pass it on…”

Klaus Spiekermann

In keeping with the notion of survival of the fittest, the hospitality industry has already begun experiencing price wars and mass retrenchments of staff on all levels of operation. Industry professionals have to endure the arduous task of crisis management which, in some cases, means re-educating clients on what the industry is about as well as setting the record straight on false information. With all this happening, it is easy to get sucked into the idea that the future of hospitality is very bleak. However, my next interviewee thinks otherwise.

Klaus Spiekermann is an experienced multi-unit hotel general manager for luxury brands. He specialises in business growth, guest experience and colleague engagement. Having worked his way up in the industry, and with his zeal for acquiring and sharing knowledge, Klaus has valuable insights on how the hospitality industry can come out of this pandemic looking stronger than ever with a renewed focus on wellness.

Interview Highlights:

1. Added Value over Lower Pricing

Lower pricing might seem like a good idea to attract more guests to your hotel right now, but it is a poor long-term strategy. Keeping cash flows in the green is obviously the top priority, but hoteliers must not forget to keep all channels of communication alive – both with guests and with staff. One effective way to ensure long-term success is to change aspects of the product and not the product itself. Each department needs to be adapted into the new normal in a way that best serves the guests’ needs because ultimately, guests are the ones paying. Adding value to the offering is a strategy that not only ensures the survival of the industry but also positions it to emerge from this pandemic stronger than before.

2. Understand Your Hotel Type

Wellness in hospitality is becoming more widespread; however, its implementation must be done carefully. The way you treat wellness in hospitality will depend on what type of hotel you are operating. Resorts in exotic areas can afford to run on lower price points because they can maximise on volume. This is not the case for city hotels, whose market consists primarily of people on the go, like business people or travellers. With this in mind, it is important to look at the classical KPIs and adapt them to your specific hotel type in order to run successfully. Wellness facilities generally have high overheads, so there has to be extensive research and reasoning to support the investment that has to be made in staff and equipment.

3. A Hybrid Wellness Offering

This concept merges traditional wellness practices, such as classic spa treatments, with emerging technologies to provide a well-rounded experience for guests. As we communicate, certain words tend to carry certain connotations with them. Right now, the word ‘spa’ immediately evokes an image that might be discouraging to guests in the wake of new social distancing regulations and health and safety precautions, and also to investors due to the natural high overheads of spas. However, there is plenty of room for adaptability. Incorporating technology into the wellness offering can significantly improve the guest experience both physically, through treatments and psychologically, by eliminating problematic assumptions. Essentially, wellness will need a redefinition that encourages guests to pay for the experience and assures hotel owners that they are making a wise investment. 

About fifteen years ago, having a spa in a hotel was considered a ‘unique selling point’. Today, it is equally unfathomable to operate a five-star luxury hotel that does not have complete wellness facilities (a spa and fully equipped gym). While the pandemic forces us to operate under strict regulations for health and safety on both sides, speaking directly to guests has revealed that they don’t want things to change. The human factor of both hospitality and wellness is something we cannot afford to downplay. As such, pivoting the business model should not mean removing the essence of hospitality – the essence that centres around the wellbeing of guests. Rather, the hospitality industry must seek to add more value to the offering.

Many thanks to Klaus for his time and sharing his astute, insightful and global perspective. It is clear from this interview that the hospitality industry will be more robust and consolidated after this pandemic is over.

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