24 July 2021, by Cornelia Tautenhahn

A must or a miss – are fitness programmes worthwhile for hotels?

Fitness in hotel rooms, personal training, sustainability and mindfulness: A talk with Wolfgang Falkner from ‘SpaCamp’ about fitness programmes in hotels. 

© Shutterstock

Fitness offers in hotels are increasingly in demand 

"Fitness programmes have been on the increase in spas and wellness hotels for ten years now.”

 

Wolfgang Falkner is the owner and managing director of ‘The CampCompany’, and he pays close attention to what is happening in the spa and wellness hotel sector. This is a market segment in which fitness programmes are playing an ever larger role – an ideal opportunity for the fitness industry, and not only in terms of equipment. Partnerships with trainers and studio operators can also be worthwhile here. 

SpaCamp is the industry event for spa and wellness hotels, health tourism and the spa industry. This year the event is taking place from 15 to 17 November at the Edelweiss Salzburg Mountain Resort. 

FIBO: SpaCamp is the ideas workshop for spa and wellness hotels. What topics will you be focusing on in 2021?

Wolfgang Falkner: At our event, new ideas and the best ways to put them into practice are the focal point of everything. Something that sets us apart: participants can also put forward topics for discussion. These are the people who generally know better than anyone where there are problems in daily business, which places are worth a closer look, and our event lets them join together to find solutions. 

© Jasmin Walter
Wolfgang Falkner

This year our motto is ‘Reasons for optimism!’. We want to encourage everyone to be open to change. The topic of sustainability – social and ecological – is surely the central issue here. All of us must do our part, and we have to be ready for changes. I am pleased to say that this message is also reflected in the topics suggested by participants. Sustainability can only be achieved with greater mindfulness and awareness – of ourselves and of nature. If anything positive has resulted from the coronavirus crisis, surely it must be an awareness that our entire world is interconnected. We cannot isolate ourselves. I am very confident that we will get to grips with the climate crisis, but we will have to make real changes. Now.

 

What is the role of fitness programmes in hotels? Have there been changes in recent years?

Falkner: Fitness programmes have been on the increase in spas and wellness hotels for ten years now. These facilities have grown larger and more attractive – and they play a more prominent role. It is not only good equipment that is important here, but also personal support on site provided by professional trainers. Personal training has certainly increased in significance – the same can be said for gentler forms of activity like yoga. The coronavirus has turned in-room fitness into a hot topic for hotels. Yet fitness has also been on the march outdoors – here we are talking about exercising in beautiful natural settings. Spa Manager Lisa Stangier, with whom I will be giving a digital presentation at FIBO, believes that mindful fitness will be the wave of the future

 

Fitness and spas – how can they be better integrated?

Falkner: It has been said so often that no one really wants to hear it anymore, but no one can deny that it is true: A spa should be a place that serves the body, mind and spirit in equal measure. In other words, it should address each person as a whole to create a moving and meaningful experience

Whereas one spa patron may be interested in decluttering their mind through physical activity, another might be looking for relaxation and recuperation, and someone else might be searching for inspiration and a new way of thinking. None are possible without the others. Quite simply, the mind and body go together, and today there are growing numbers of programmes that recognise this fact. Examples include the extremely popular yoga retreats. 

 

In particular, what opportunities are there for studio operators to collaborate with hotels? Are there any best practices here that you could share with us? 

Falkner: That is a very good question. Unfortunately I do not have any best practice examples to offer you here, as four- and five-star hotels in particular generally have their own fitness facilities and operate these themselves. For smaller operations lucky enough to be located near a fitness studio, on the other hand, this could represent a very good opportunity – not to mention city hotels. One thing that is already happening here is collaboration between hotels and external trainers, such as yoga professionals.

 

The coronavirus crisis has really given a boost to digitalisation in the fitness industry. To what degree has this been the case for spa and wellness hotels? 

Falkner: Yes, digitalisation has also taken a leap in the hotel industry. Suddenly, everyone needed to find digital solutions. For example, as a result of hygiene regulations, conventional brochures disappeared from many hotels; instead, digital spa menus were placed on tablets that could be easily cleaned. Fewer printed promotional materials were sent as more resources were devoted to optimising booking systems, websites and search engine marketing, or even to the integration of entirely new channels. I know of a SpaCamp participant and hotelier who has launched her own podcast so that she can stay in contact with her regular customers – an excellent idea! In spite of all the attention being paid to digitalisation, no one should forget that there is still nothing more powerful than an in-person encounter. The key is to find the right balance.