An interview with Ms. Lei An, Senior Manager of Spa Operations & Pre-Opening for Greater China & Mongolia, Hilton Hotels Group
Hilton Hotels Group has been named No.3 on the Fast Company’s annual list of Most Innovative Companies for Wellness. It’s a result of Hilton’s endeavor, especially in recent years, of launching comprehensive wellness services, from the Five Feet to Fitness room concept, creative and updated wellness products and events based on individual needs, to a variety of wellness education and privileges provided to the employees, Hilton has integrated wellness into every detail so that the guests can enjoy a fully immersive health journey.
Ms. Lei An, the Senior Manager of Spa Operations & Pre-opening for Greater China and Mongolia of Hilton Hotels and Resorts, is a key figure in the company’s wellness campaign. Ann has over 26 years of experience in the hospitality industry including 11 years focusing on spa operation and spa consultancy in USA and China. As a spa consultant, she supported international hotel groups and local spa investors, working on feasibility study, design consultation, pre-opening and operational auditing in Great China area. She joined Hilton hotel group in June 2015 as the senior-manager in charge of spa operations and pre-opening in Great China and Mongolia. SpaChina interviews her.
How important is wellness to Hilton? What wellness goals and strategies do you have?
Hilton Hotels Group has always attached great importance to wellness. With the development of China’s economy and the enrichment of material life, the values and maturity of Chinese consumers have seen a great upgrading, which also drives the thriving of wellness market. Hilton continually explores the health needs of Chinese guests and is committed to bringing them high quality services.
We also find that today’s Chinese consumers increasingly emphasize personalized experience and the traditional, general health services are not able to attract them anymore. Therefore, to target the distinctive needs of different customer groups, Hilton delivers a diversity of wellness concepts and management strategies at its sub-hotels. At the spas of our luxury hotel brands, our vision is to create “an unparalleled spa journey” and bring forth “effective results” while at the spas of our full service hotel brands, we aim to make guests “Emerge Brighter”.
What are the current situation of wellness and spa business in China’s hotels? What are the reasons for it?
In China, wellness has a deep historical origin. In all ages, people have the awareness of pursuing health and longevity, and spa is one of the places for them. With the continuous improvement of national income and the pursuit of quality life, as well as the aging of China’s population and the changing environment, the pressures from work and life, and some poor lifestyles and habits resulting in sub-health, more types of health and wellness concepts and services have emerged and attracted increasing attention from the public. Spa is particularity regarded by many as an effective way to relax the body and mind. However, there is still a lack of scientific certification and standardized evaluation criteria in the market.
How does Hilton involve guests in the wellness journey? Could you share with us from the aspect of spa, fitness, accommodation and etc.?
In the aspect of wellness, Hilton is always striving to deliver high quality services for customers, so that every guest staying at the Hilton brand hotels will have an unforgettable experience. At Hilton’s spas, guests enjoy not only high quality treatments, exclusive experiences and effective results, but also distinctive healthy ambience and innovative wellness concepts.
Hilton’s fitness centres are equipped with high-end fitness facilities and equipment. In addition, we have designed a variety of efficient fitness methods. For example, you can find the best hiking or jogging roadmap throughout the surrounding business district and attractions in your room. The new room category, Five Feet to Fitness, is already a standard at DoubleTree by Hilton, bringing more convenience and privacy to guests who have fitness habits. Meanwhile, most of our fitness centers offer a wide range of membership services for local customers, including private training, group classes and diverse social events.
In order to guarantee a better sleep quality, we offer different pillow options for guests. At some of our five-star hotels, we have a range of bathing options to deliver more exclusive experience. At our dining venues, careful guests may have noticed that we have marked the raw materials ingredients and corresponding calorie values on the labels before each dish in the buffet area so that guests can make healthier choices based on their own needs.
The above are some of the health and wellness services that Hilton have elaborately crafted for our customers. Moreover, each hotel will launch their own health products based on the distinctive needs of different customer groups, local features and seasonal characters.
What are the distinctive wellness needs of the future young customers? What new trends have you seen?
In the wellness world, like many other fields, today’s younger customers have shown new consumption characters and preference different from the past. They want to be more actively involved in the health programs design and experience, and seek greater convenience and more interaction. To meet these trends, we have built more multifunctional relaxation areas and healthy bars, offered more wellness products and exclusive training, and launched wellness sessions and events targeting different ages, interests and wellness purposes from time to time. We believe that the future of health and wellness market will be predominated by personalization, professionalism, convenience, interactivity and efficacy.
Many of Hilton’s spas are outsourced. What standards and requirements do you have for them so that they can stay in consistence with the hotel’s quality services? What challenges have you met in the process?
Whether managed by our own team or outsourced to the group’s accredited spa operators, the spas at Hilton are managed and operated with the same requirements and standards so as to provide our customers with high-quality spa services. Each hotel team decides their spa operation method and partner according to the hotel’s own characteristics, market needs and target customer groups. Cooperative management is based on the principle of mutual assistance, mutual benefit, and mutual support to achieve a win-win result. Of course, there are challenges in the process, the major one of which is to keep the consistency of service standards.
Do you carry out wellness education to the staff?
Hilton believes that people is the core of a company. So we always consider our staff to be the foundation of development and success. In 2017, we put forward Thrive@Hilton concept, through which we hope to give our staff the same sense of satisfaction as to hotel guests and make Hilton a best workplace where the employees enjoy comprehensive health and joy in their body, mind and spirit.
Hilton attaches great importance to the training and education of its employees, especially in the area of health and wellness. We continually improve the working environment and introduce health programs covering sleep, nutrition, fitness and stress management for our staff. In 2018, we created School of Wellness section on our intranet, which specializes in sharing information and knowledge of wellness. No matter which hotel, department or position you are in, you are entitled to access these wellness programs and privileges. Through these efforts, our staff not only get benefits themselves, but also are able to share the health concepts to customers and provide them with better services.