The ultimate leisure-travel state of bliss: it is at the top of every current traveler’s wish-list following two long years of the coronavirus pandemic. With pent-up demand for vacation travel at an all-time high, now is the time for hospitality leaders to focus on winning travelers’ trust and loyalty by creating a holistic approach to joyful journeys. Whether booking an exotic vacation to a far-flung, sun-splashed destination or visiting family across the country after periods of mandatory isolation, travelers are hitting the roads, the air, and the sea in record numbers to reconnect, rejuvenate and recuperate after a very stressful period in our collective lives.
Travel can be fun and spark positive mood changes. It also inevitably triggers a wide range of stressors which can induce depression and anxiety. Or worse, the stress of traveling alone or traveling at night can potentially worsen symptoms in people with existing mental health issues. Therefore, navigating lodging and transportation systems and helping travelers cope with emotional anxiety and mental stress before, during, and after a trip is smart healthcare practice as well as an opportunity for the hospitality industry to proactively strengthen customer relationships.
For women and diverse travelers, travel-related stress can be compounded by existing trauma and post-traumatic stress that comes from simply living their day-to-day lives. For these people, travel-related stress looks like worrying about whether they will be safe traveling alone at night (even in so-called “safe” areas), experiencing aggression or microaggressions in air travel (which is on the rise and worse than pre-pandemic travel), or even simply trying to cope with triggered post-traumatic stress while on a business trip when they’re expected to function at 100%.
What if there was a way to create a less stressful journey that travelers of all ages and backgrounds could easily embrace? What if there was a tool that made coping with post-traumatic stress easier, especially when traveling? What if there was a way that savvy hospitality operators could help boost more confidence in the tourism industry?
What exactly is travel-related stress? It is the body’s response to pressure: the pressure of coordinating multiple itineraries, getting stuck at the airport, misplacing a passport, getting stopped at security, handling last minute flight cancellations, and managing a budget at every turn on the vacation. It is not packing enough of the right gear. It is over packing too much gear. It is missing a dinner reservation and finding out the top local restaurants were booked months in advance. (Also see Irene Macabante on travel trauma: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4109218.html).
With the ability to personalize service and answer consumers’ rising demand for digitalization, TouchPoints present an opportunity to facilitate these desires and optimize new technologies and innovative products to seamlessly align travel and healthcare.
What Are TouchPoints?
TouchPoints are a high-tech amenity designed to improve the travelers’ end-to-end experience by reducing the stress and anxiety often associated with travel. These wearable devices enable travelers to pay attention to the holistic experience - which includes self-care for the mind and body - and thus improve the overall outcome of a trip.
TouchPoints, placed on both sides of the body, gently vibrate to activate a user’s “calm” response. In seconds, users gain control over their stress, and are able to think clearly and experience a sense of balance. This process creates lasting new behavior patterns, lessening the negative impacts of stress over time.
Because travel-related stress usually begins weeks before the trip, imagine sending TouchPoints to customers prior to their departure date to help mitigate the biggest anxiety-inducing culprits - from planning and packing to experiencing motion sickness and turbulence once the trip has started - to be part of a “hospitality X healthcare” solution.
Hospitality industry players can all benefit from low-cost, high-impact amenities that deliver the “gift” of balance and stress-reduction. As modern travelers make booking decisions based on rewards and perks, luxurious upgrades that address pre-trip stress before the vacation has even begun serves as a savvy marketing and sales “well-being welcome” tool. Adding self-care to the hospitality checklist right alongside ratings for decor, ambience, cleanliness, value, etc. to address stress aligns with the full brand service experience.
Trip Stressors No More
Staying away from home can be super stressful. Fear of uncertainty, safety concerns, massive flight cancellations, Covid protocols. Modern travelers deserve modern solutions to trip stressors.
Just as spa-like airport lounges with complimentary refreshments or hotels with in-room yoga mats have been created to provide quiet sanctuaries and ease travelers into new environments, TouchPoints provide a high-tech path to a calm, meditative state of mind by helping shift the parasympathetic nervous system functioning.
Our bodies react to minor stress the same way they do to serious danger, activating our “fight or flight” response and triggering stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, making us feel anxious and out of control. But our default stress reaction can literally be rewired with TouchPoints. The wearable devices have been designed to keep stress at bay; consequently, helping travelers stay in a meditative state of Zen at the wellness retreat or in a focused top performance state of mind for their adventure travel experiences.
And, at the end of the day? TouchPoints help combat the factors that stand between your customer and a good night’s rest. Stress is one of the most common and pervasive sleep disruptors keeping even the savviest global travelers awake.
TouchPoints' proprietary neuroscience technology uses gentle, alternating micro-vibrations to return users back into a calm, sleep mode in seconds. And with so much riding on online ratings, improving the quality of a peaceful night’s sleep looms large against the backdrop of travelers’ reviews.
What Hospitality Leaders Can Do
What goes into a successful vacation rating and repeat, loyal customers? The coveted five-star rating is dependent on many factors, especially the final brand impression that helps create lasting memories of joy.
Just as Disney and Princess Cruise Lines have used Disney Magic Bands and Medallion Pendants respectively as part of branding initiatives, sending travelers home with TouchPoints is part of the full guest experience to not only help manage stress upon return but remind travelers their holistic well-being has been prioritized.
There is no doubt about it: travel is back - but it comes with a unique set of stressors. Embracing technological advancements can positively impact the well-being of one of the hospitality industry’s most vital customer segments: the leisure travel guest returning to the skies, rails, roads, and sea for the first time in years.
TouchPoints could be a Healthcare-meets-Hospitality (H2H) solution. For more information, please see www.thetouchpointsolution.com.
*Acknowledgment: This research paper is sponsored by the GloMed.Education website.