When Clyde Guinn, president of Days Inns Worldwide, read a USA Today article about how 42 percent of Americans are expected to be obese by 2030, it added to what he had already been thinking: Would offering healthy options for travelers make sense for Days Inn? And, in particular, would these offerings resonate with Generation X and Y, two groups that Guinn was seeking to attract, even while respecting that Days Inn had been built on the backs of Baby Boomers and their parents.
Guinn found indications that healthy options would, in fact, resonate with Generations X and Y, and that offering these options might just set the brand apart from other hotels in the economy tier, which is the largest segment of hotels in the country.
“When you count how many people put their heads in a rented bed in a hotel each night, 60 percent of them are staying at economy hotels,” Guinn says. “Typically, people have not associated a quality exercise experience with the economy segment, but we are hoping to change that.”
In September at the Wyndham Hotel Group Global Conference in Las Vegas, Days Inn, which is part of the Wyndham Hotel Group, Parisppany, NJ, will introduce the DayFit program. The program includes initiatives to refresh the breakfast menu with healthier options, provide healthier vending machine food and offer a quality, easy-to-use and consistent fitness room experience through a partnership with Precor, Woodinville, WA.
Portions of the breakfast program will be beta tested beginning this month for 90 days.
“We feed, on average, 60,000 people breakfast every morning,” Guinn says. “That’s about two-thirds of our guests, so breakfast is a way that we can touch a lot of people.”
By the end of this year, breakfast and fitness programs will be mandatory for the brand’s 1,550 franchisees.
About 600 of Days Inn's more than 1,800 hotels currently have a fitness facility of some sort, but many were put in before the company had a brand standard, which means the current fitness experience has no consistency.
With the DayFit program, the standard will require that the smallest Days Inn facilities, which might have around 60 rooms, would have 250 square feet for a fitness room with an elliptical, a treadmill and some accessories, such as a ball or bands, Guinn says.
The next size of hotels, typically with 75 to 100 rooms, would have a 250-square-foot fitness room, but the space would also have the bathroom demolished, giving the operator room for a strength piece, such as a pulley rack and bench.
The largest hotels (more than 100 rooms) would be required to have 500 square feet (equivalent to the size of two converted guest rooms) with possibly two treadmills, two ellipticals and one bike plus the pulley system, bench, balls and a second TV.
The fitness rooms would likely be converted guest rooms with new flooring, wall treatments, water machines, clocks and TV sets. Preferably, they would be located on the first level near the front desk.
The cost for demolition, redesign and equipment would run about $10,000 for the smallest hotels to about $14,000 to $16,000 for the middle-sized hotels and $18,000 to $22,000 for the largest hotels, Guinn says.
The equipment itself will have fewer options than guests would find at a luxury or full-service hotel because the setup needs to be economical, he says. That means no iPod connectivity or built-in TVs. Still, the move may make some waves in the economy tier.
“Five to 10 years from now in the economy segment, we hope to have taken not just our brand but also to have inspired a number of other brands to move in this direction,” Guinn says. “It is a very simplified approach. It is not a 24 Hour Fitness, it is not any of that. It allows the customer to come in and have a basic, dependable exercise experience.”