CYBER HITEC: Wellness is the New Guest DNA

NATIONAL REPORT—The HITEC that the industry has come to know looked a lot different this year but still delivered on its mission: delivering the latest in technology and innovations, a mission that may be more vital this year than ever before.

In CYBER HITEC’s opening general session, “The Convergence of Innovation and Wellness to Stability,” John Picard, founder, John Picard & Associates, shared his thoughts on industry innovations this year, and it starts with health and wellness.

“This isn’t just a flat tire, this is a game-changer…the preexisting model for hospitality and the meeting business has been broken,” Picard said. “In our American story, innovation has never been fueled by stability. The biggest opportunities have always been born in some form of crisis. It’s only in our nature to reimagine the world and it’s our last available choice.”

He added that the global pandemic has brought about an unexpected reprieve and opportunity for clarity.

“Embracing that pause has allowed us to ask ourselves if there hasn’t been a better way to build and manage our business all of this time, maybe we weren’t willing to honestly access our circumstances because the system was working just well enough for all of us to maintain that comfort of the status quo,” he said.

The status quo is changing, however, and at an even more rapid pace as guests turn to health and wellness for a sense of comfort.

“How do we create the most meaningful guest experience and environments for people to deeply connect to? Accelerating pace, people are still people, and we have to design to their needs,” Picard said.

He continued, “What if health and longevity were at the center of everything we did for our guests, customers, employees and ourselves? How do we build this and make this real?”

Longevity and wellness centers in hotels could launch more opportunities and revenue streams, Picard noted, making them available to locals while revitalizing business travelers and other guests who may stay a day longer for self-care.

“What does an autonomous hotel look like?” Picard asked “Imagine a building that thinks and learns as it lives and actually becomes the companion to its guests. Digital twins are emerging and changing the portfolio value of real estate. You couple that with AI and machine learning and the result is an autonomous structure with a consciousness. With today’s AI capabilities, a building could have software-consciousness that allows it to interact with its guests. Now, imagine the human-digital twin and the building-digital twin working in concert. This is how we code the wellness algorithms and every guest could have one. This is the new guest DNA.”

Picard said that if the platform is built for this, the apps will follow, delivering on incremental revenue. “If you get this right, you’re making money in the cloud,” he said.

These advances could be sensor floors that help maintain proper physical distancing, COVID sensors that can instantly identify the virus in 300 sq. ft. and even COVID test tongue sticks with Bluetooth connectivity.

“Tools like this will help build the safety cage we all need to renew our collective sense of trust and that will allow us to gather again,” Picard said.

He noted other advances could include  “real-time tuning our spaces to correspond to an occupant circadian rhythm; adjusting lighting and temperature humidity; smart windows; and a BMS system that are all connected to a sensor system running predictive analytics all to make our customers more comfortable, to rejuvenate them and to restore their sense of wellness…Wellness is the upgrade, the new differentiator, the new driver for loyalty.”

Picard continued, “Even with thermal sensors and cameras and spraying and cleaning the airports and hotels and public spaces, all you have is the basis of someone’s opinion as to whether it was done right. We need the math and the science to get into this.”

Innovative yes, but even more, these health and wellness technologies provide hope in a usually slow to move industry, which Picard noted is now constantly driving forward.

“You shouldn’t waste this good pandemic stalling the global market,” he said. “Now is the time to pull off a total reset.”