How GenAI Can Enhance Hotel Wellness Programs


Generative AI (GenAI) as led by the lustrous ChatGPT is rightfully front and center in the news because there are seemingly endless possibilities for how these pretrained models built on large data sets can help speed up various processes at a hotel or enhance the guest experience. But while it’s fun to bloviate in generalities about how the world will be transformed inside of five years as these algorithms pierce the veil of general intelligence, right now on the ground we need narrow use cases for these technologies.

And for that, one specific area where we are passionate is in wellness. Particularly with today’s labor conditions, hotels should be on the lookout for solutions that can build revenue per guest (TRevPAR) while also being as labor-light as possible.

The Longevity Revolution

Concurrent to the advent of GenAI, another revolution is happening that’s receiving notably less media attention, largely because it’s mired in complex medical science with an alphabet soup of acronyms and terminology that require lots of time to comprehend. The ‘longevity revolution’ is the banner term to describe the medical practitioners, researchers and biohackers who are working to deduce the root causes of the hallmarks of cellular aging and how aging has a near-omnipresent influence on pathologies ranging from cancer and dementia to arthritis, osteoporosis and balding.

The hope isn’t necessarily to reverse aging or make humans immortal (for now at least) but to deliver antiaging treatments and regimens that will help people live longer, healthier and free from early-life causes of mortality like sudden-onset heart attacks or severe viral infections on immunocompromised individuals. For hotels, the word of choice here is not only ‘treatment’ which implies applications for traditional spa offerings but also ‘regimen’ denoting a reorientation of one’s lifestyle around wellness-oriented habits. That is, as wellness gains popularity, people will come to adopt healthier habits, thereby increasing demand for wellness products.

And this trend is already underway. Spas all over the world are evolving into wellness centers that marry a variety of alternative medical approaches and all the latest welltech. Indeed, from our experience working with luxury properties as part of the Mille Club program (with ‘mille’ coming from the Italian for a thousand to connote hotels with ADRs at over $1,000), advanced wellness programming is quickly becoming a make-or-break element to give guests a strong reason to visit the hotel in the first place.

Wellness is indeed a tool to drive product awareness, while it can also be used as part of a broader strategy to support room rate and TRevPAR growth. In this sense, GenAI is also a tool. Combining the two gives hotels a highly lucrative path to drastically increase a brand’s wellness footprint.

When looking at near-term applications for GenAI in hotel wellness, we see this happening first through intelligent insights that a manager can interpret, then through AI-driven recommendations for people to implement or reevaluate, and finally through prescriptions where the AI is given full autonomy over selected workflows.

GenAI in the Back of House

While the front-facing welltech may steal the limelight, the workhorse for GenAI will predominantly lie in the BOH where it can be deployed to help a hotel’s already incredible wellness team be even more incredible by optimizing their time and efforts according to what motivates them to come into work each and every day – helping guests with their wellbeing goals.

Here are three concepts to consider.

  1. Automated marketing and bookings. What good is a wellness center if no guest knows about it? What good is a receptionist at the spa entrance if they’re always on the phone with guests trying to reserve treatments? What good is a spa package if guests can’t get the appointment time that they want because they didn’t book far enough in advance of their arrival? GenAI can help by letting spa practitioners focus on their guests and not have to worry about promotions. GenAI can do this by offloading a lot of the automated marketing and ecommerce rails, delivering these prompts in a manner that considers the ‘context’ of the individual customer. That is, some guests will want to immediately reserve their treatment times after booking their rooms, while others will want to be upsold in the days preceding arrival, and yet others will wait until they reach the front desk to sort this out.
  2. Dynamic availability and dynamic pricing. The former term denotes the use of past booking data to optimize a wellness center’s time-based inventory so that the highest profit margin treatments are assigned the most popular timeslots throughout the week, where nowadays all of this scheduling can be attenuated by natural language processing (NLP) sentiment analysis to drive customer satisfaction. Similarly, while every hotelier is familiar with dynamic pricing for rooms, this too can be adroitly deployed for other profit centers with the granular yielding controlled by an AI, should the hotelier desire to go this route.
  3. Staff and guest scheduling. Unlike hotel rooms, wellness centers must be very careful to throttle visitor occupancy so that guests aren’t discouraged by treatments being unavailable due to specialized practitioners being off duty. Meanwhile, practitioners may become demoralized if they have no one to help. Looking beyond dynamic availability, GenAI will come to the rescue in the form of flexible and predictive team scheduling that optimizes for both guests’ needs as well as each practitioner’s requested hours.

In 2023, generative AI emerged not just as a supporting tool but as a transformative ally. Through meticulous Hotel AI audits, we can unveil bespoke solutions poised to elevate the guest wellness experience, commented Vincent Somsen, a GAIN Advisor who leads the company’s AI innovation division. Think of personalized meditation and relaxation sessions curated based on a guest’s stress levels, preferences and mood, ensuring a rejuvenating mental retreat. Or consider rooms that adjust in real-time to a guest’s physiological state, from lighting and temperature to aroma. Or how about the benefits of tailored in-room exercise routines that cater to a guest’s unique fitness goals and physical requirements, complemented by holistic dietary plans devised from an amalgamation of health metrics, dietary preferences and wellness goals. At the helm of this welltech transformation would be the 24/7 AI Wellness Concierge, always ready to assist, whether to book a spa session or recommend a therapeutic local nature trail. Any way a hotel brand decides to proceed, it will always come down to providing a comprehensive, AI-enhanced journey for holistic health and wellbeing.

The Future for the Front of House

Expounding on Somsen’s remarks, where AI is already helping medicine and wellness is in making sense of vast reams of data to help discern patterns about a person’s ‘biochemical individuality’ which encompasses their genome, their epigenome (which genes are turned on and off) and all accompanying biomarkers. While GenAI will play an important role in near-future lifesaving medical treatments, wellness centers at hotels will also benefit from all this research as more people come to seek out preventative techniques to stave off any last-minute interventions.

Here are three possibilities:

  1. Personalized guest wellness itineraries. As a natural extrapolation from optimized guest and staff scheduling as well as dynamic availability, the future of this entire process may start with a conversation about what the guest’s wellness goals are for their visit, which a GenAI will compute alongside any provided health data to come back with a limited selection of suggested multi-activity itineraries for the guest to then authorize. Right now, this is largely done manually through the setup of spa packages, but GenAI can take this to a hyper-personalized level that takes into account how certain treatments may affect the guest’s bio-individual composition.
  2. Functional nutrition. Right now, nutrition is still a bit like the Wild West, with some proponents of veganism as the best way to eat and others now extolling a nose-to-tail, ancestral diet as the way to go. The optimal way is likely somewhere in the middle and comprised of nuanced differences for each guest based on their genetics, epigenetics and contextual goals while traveling. GenAI is quickly becoming capable at computing the multitude of bio-individual data to arrive at specific recommendations for modifying any dish to optimize nutritional benefits while still remaining within the framework established by the guest’s stated goals.
  3. Computational therapies. Bringing it all together, when you combine AI-driven functional nutrition with a bespoke guest itinerary, a step further is to customize each treatment to optimize a guest’s biomarkers based on all personal data submitted to the hotel. Perhaps this is as simple as adjusting the time in the infrared sauna to be five minutes longer with a customized remineralization beverage served to the guest immediately afterwards. Or for the more futuristically inclined, it may involve the on-the-spot creation of a bespoke blend of raw ingredients to produce a skin cream that’s perfectly attuned to that guest’s moisture levels. For either case and numerous others, GenAI will inevitably act as the computational backbone to deliver this degree of personalization at scale.

Ultimately, with any technology of tool, we must always revert back to the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’. For all things wellness, our foundational goal is to help our guests improve their wellbeing, and hopefully this inspires you to look at how you can use the astounding advances by the recent batch of generative AIs to further serve that core purpose.

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