Interviews.

Empowering guests with holistic wellness

Even Hotels burst onto the scene in 2012 as one of the first hotel brands to offer a holistic wellness experience. We sit down with Vice President, Jason Moskal, who explains the brand’s success and his golden rules for leadership

by Ellie Ross, Click. Travel Writer

Topic: Guest experience Leadership

Click. Takeaway

  • Wellness tourism is expected to surpass US$800bn by 2020 and is no longer seen as a trend, but a lifestyle choice
  • Hotels should use the best fitness products on the market, while also working on a local level – for example, offering classes with local instructors
  • A good leader will put people first, and lead – never follow
  • A successful hotel brand will empower its guests to stay on their terms, and take sustainability seriously

Even Hotels was one of the first hotel brands in the industry to offer a holistic wellness experience when it was launched by parent company InterContinental Hotels in 2012. Since then, though the core offering has not changed, the brand has enhanced guest experience by improving everything from food and beverage to the sleep experience in its 10 properties. Jason Moskal, Vice President, Global Marketing, Hotel Indigo & Even Hotels reflects on the brand’s rise and shares his tips on leadership.

Jason Moskal, Vice President, Global Marketing, Hotel Indigo & EVEN Hotels

Jason Moskal, Vice President, Global Marketing, Hotel Indigo & Even Hotels

Click.: How would you describe the concept of Even Hotels to someone who hasn’t heard of you before?
Moskal:
Even Hotels was designed for business travellers that prioritise their health and wellness every day. This is on our guests’ terms – whether that’s recharging their batteries, maintaining their physical and mental fitness, focusing on balanced nutrition, or maximising productivity.

Click.: What was the trigger behind the idea?
Moskal:
Even Hotels started with the insight that guests felt their health and wellness routine fell by the wayside when they travelled. Wellness tourism is expected to surpass US$800bn by 2020. This growth has been stimulated by a paradigm shift that we recognised back at Even Hotels’ inception – wellness is no longer a trend, but a lifestyle choice. We moved quickly to get ahead of the curve and be the first hotel brand with wellness woven through its DNA.

Click.: What have been the biggest challenges?
Moskal:
Wellness means different things to different people. While we developed Even Hotels around four core areas – eat well, keep active, rest easy and accomplish more – it’s always a challenge to ensure we are offering all the right things to help our guests keep on their routine.

Click.: Luxury gyms seem to stress partnerships with hotels in order to develop. What is your experience of this?
Moskal:
We provide everything our guests need to maintain their wellness routines while on the road, and ensure they have everything necessary to accomplish their goals onsite. However, we also see success with partnerships at the local level. Our hotels have flexible spaces for exercise classes with guest instructors from local studios. We also promote running and walking areas around the hotels if our guests prefer to get outside.

My motto is ‘people first’. But to keep people as a top priority, you have to take care of yourself so you can properly take care of people

Click.: When it comes to fitness and wellness, what do you think the hospitality sector gets right – and wrong?
Moskal:
The sector has learned to give guests choice, and not be too prescriptive. Wellness can mean an intense workout, but also a nice glass of wine at the end of a busy day. It’s important to recognise that and embrace all guests, without alienating any particular travel niche. One thing the sector can get wrong is authenticity. A hotel company cannot simply put an exercise bike in a guestroom and call itself a wellness brand. Wellness must be integrated through every touchpoint of the guest experience – from sleep and hydration to fitness and nutrition.

Click.: What are your golden rules of business?
Moskal:
My motto is ‘people first’. But to keep people as a top priority, you have to take care of yourself so you can properly take care of people. My second golden rule is to lead, never follow.

Click.: What makes a good leader?
Moskal:
A good leader dares greatly, challenging their people to think beyond the constraints of business and make daring bets on what will help drive the team, the brand, the company and the business forward

Click.:How do you think hotels will evolve over the next decade?
Moskal:
Startups and the gig economy are changing everything – not just hotels, but the way we work and live. As guests are given more options, it’s imperative that hotel brands provide an experience that guests want to return for. Empowering the guest to stay on their terms is becoming increasingly important. If you don’t give the guest what they need to feel empowered to do what they need to accomplish, they will find a brand that does empower them. Sustainability is also paramount, and hotels must continue seeking ways to be socially responsible.

Hero image: credit to Luke Chesser, Unsplash

Ellie Ross is a freelance journalist and travel writer, specialising in active travel, health and fitness

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