Perfect Fit For Hilton

Looking to strengthen its full-service brands and improve guest satisfaction, Hilton Hotels teamed up with Precor, a leader in premium fitness equipment.

Hilton research showed that a high-end fitness center could increase guest satisfaction by as much as 30 percent. Less than 18 months after its partnership with Precor began, 350 full-service hotels within the Hilton Family of Hotels have installed Fitness by Precor gyms and guest satisfaction has already improved by 10, and in some locations, 20 percent.

“Precor is a premium fitness equipment brand that our guests can identify with,” says Jodi Sullivan, Hilton's director of fitness, corporate development. “They have Precor in their local gyms, so they want it when they travel. They recognize and identify with their equipment and can get a consistent workout. With the stresses that come along with travel, they can maintain their workouts on the road in a club-quality facility and allow themselves to get energized for business meetings or leisurely pursuits.”

Sullivan's job, on its own, is a testament to the importance of fitness in today's hospitality industry. Also a personal trainer and former competitive figure skater, Sullivan was hired to the newly created position two-and-a-half years ago, with the sole focus of fitness. “It shows Hilton is listening to its guests,” she says. “They created a whole department around this.”

Recent surveys indicate that business travelers rank fitness centers as one of the top-five features they look for when traveling. The co-branded initiative announced in July 2006, Hilton Fitness by Precor, looks to capitalize on the growing trend.

“It's two companies coming together that are focused on health, well-being and guest services and it created a unique and great partnership,” Sullivan says.

The specifically designed facilities feature Precor strength, cardio and entertainment equipment, along with core training, balance equipment and stretch accessories. The centers have been installed in 350 locations, predominantly at the full-service Hilton, Doubletree and Embassy Suites hotels and selected Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Hampton and Waldorf=Astoria Collection locations.

The goal is to have the Precor gyms installed in all full-service locations, more than 500, by year-end.

The concept, both in equipment and design elements, is adaptable to fit various-sized facilities. Sullivan says the average is between 600 and 700 square feet, but several are much larger. No matter the size, the gyms will contain Precor equipment, rubber flooring, wood-framed mirrors, accent paint colors and wood-towel stations.

The Hilton Anatole in Dallas features a 6,500-square-foot center that is also open to private membership. Scott LaCroix, the director of the club and spa at the Anatole, can't get over the difference in the before and after.

“It's just fabulous,” he says of the renovated fitness center. “We had been buying one piece or two pieces at a time for 10 years. We had a popular room, but it looked rag-tag. Basically what's happened is they've replaced everything in like kind. Everything is now Precor equipment, color matched, and every (cardio) piece has its own (TV) screen with 45 channels. It's made a huge impact.”

LaCroix says the feedback from hotel guests has been excellent. The greatest evidence of success, though, came in 2007, the year after the gym was renovated: He had the largest gain in net membership since 1998.

“Our private membership was floored by it,” he says. “They were used to older equipment, three TV screens on the wall. Every machine looked different. It was good, but pieced together. The whole environment seems healthier and cleaner — it's like sitting in a new car.”

One of the signature pieces of the Hilton Fitness by Precor gyms is the rubber flooring, which provides the feel of a premium gym.

“It really completes the fitness-center environment,” Sullivan says. “Guests are really getting the feeling they are in a fitness center rather than a renovated meeting or guest room.”

Even better, the flooring is made from eco-friendly scrap tire rubber.

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