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October 28, 2013


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Raúl Colón

I think this can be a series of posts that can identify other industry and places where the customer's perception or decision was not taken into consideration.

With many hotels management at top makes most of the decisions and they look for what they already know and have done.

I am sure it all comes down to an SOP of how to set up a gym and under a certain budget with a template of requests that need to be in the gym.


Yep. Worse are the "gated gyms" where employees get in your way. For example, the Hilton in Mexico City (last time I was there, anyway) charges for folks to use the gym - fine.

But the desk folks would occasionally wander off, leaving the electrically controlled gates locked. So if you were done with your workout and needed to leave, but they were not at their post, you'd have to stand there trapped until the employee showed up. Or, you could climb up and over the gate, as I once did.

Nothing about this process enhances their guest experience.

David Meerman Scott

Raul, I find this behavior in every industry. Heck, I probably do it myself(!) But it just seems like the hotel gym music thing is so easy to fix!

Andre - Wow, I never experienced that! One thing I have seen a few times is when the hotel gym is also run as a club with local people paying for membership. The problem with that is so many people go before work - exactly when I am there.

Eric Long

This is definitely the "checking the box" syndrome -- my personal favorite is when the hotel "gym" is a regular hotel room with the door removed from the hinges, a couple treadmills placed in the center of the room, and a TV mounted on the wall. Maybe a little water cooler for an added bonus.

It's interesting how the gym experience varies across the same hotel brands (but in different cities), too. Makes it feel like it's a case-by-case decision and whether or not the local budget can afford bikes, treadmills, dumbbells, AND loud music. Unfortunately bikes and loud music are top on the list...probably because they are the cheapest and the more expensive equipment is for "Phase 2."

David Meerman Scott

Eric, Good point on "checking the box." Perhaps they buy bikes on the used market because so many people don't seem to use them often.

Nancy Badillo

I have had my shares of great hotel gym and bad ones. I do agree, hotels need to do a better job at providing customer sufficient treadmills and machines to fit in a great workout.

Steve Wellmeier

I agree with the comments about the loud music or blaring TVs (either news or sports, pick your poison), but let’s not neglect the overkill on the mirrored walls in hotel gyms. Sure, I understand the value of a mirror when you’re using free weights, but my sense is that they’re used mostly to create an illusion of space.

Which leads me to conclude that hotel gyms are more of a marketing gimmick than an actual service for the guests. They show well in brochures and online – again, due to the mirrors – and could sway a new prospect from booking a comparable hotel across the street without one. That’s the real value for the hotelier (but maybe I’m too cynical?)

I expect that the heavy users – business travelers who use a particular hotel frequently – would have the best success in getting hotel management to actually give the customers what they want.

Lauren jonczak

I have always wondered why hotel gyms have the worst selection of exercise equipment. The last hotel I was in the gym was right next to the indoor pool. It was so hot in there no one could last longer than 5 minutes. Very bad thinking on the hotels part.


I think it has to do with that saying about not reinventing the wheel. They probably feel that since no one has really complained and that most hotels do the same thing then it is right.

I like your style of writing by the way.


Totally agree. It seems pointless to create something by inertia, because everyone else does it. There of course must be some strategy based on what your BUYERS want (do).
Well-written and very interesting! Thanks a lot!

Michael McDonald

Another point about hotel gyms that completely bugs the hell out of me is that most of them have 'Opening Hours'. Why??? Please tell me why a hotel gym cannot be open 24/7. There is zero requirement for supervision and any suggestion it is for safety/security/insurance reasons is pure nonsense. Swimming pool - yes, but Gym - definitely not. And don't get me started on the idiotic sign-in rubbish.

While I'm having a rant, another thing (gym-related) that really annoys is when non-users of the gym come in to scrounge the water from the water-cooler, usually by filling an empty bottle they have brought in. It's the height of meanness.

PS I have just come back from a 2 month assignment in Las Vegas and stayed in 6 different hotels during that period. If anyone would like the name of the (mid-market) hotel which offered a 24 hour gym, with a full range of top class equipment and all the water you can drink (!), just let me know. (You may be surprised by the answer!)

David Meerman Scott

Michael, I'm with you on all of this.

However, on the water cooler have you ever traveled in a country where it is unsafe to drink the water? Recently I've had speaking gigs in places like Egypt and India where you cannot drink the tap water. The hotel staff says they will give you as many bottles as you need. But reality is they only bring 3 or 4 bottles at a time and for those of us who drink a lot of water it is not enough for one day. So I do go to the gym and grab 5 or 10 water bottles!!

Please tell me which Vegas hotel. I speak there several times a year. Caesars, where I stay about once a year, has TERRIBLE hours for lap swimming. The lap pool is only open M-F and only during typical business hours like 9-6. So forget laps there.

Michael McDonald

Yup, Caesars was one of the 6 I stayed in, but the one that impressed me more than any of the others was (I kid you not) the South Point Hotel. Yes, it's a bit off the beaten track but if you want a 24 Gym Hour with fantastic facilities and the friendliest staff, its the best place to stay.

Pound for Pound, it is the best hotel I've stayed in when I'm in Vegas and no-one has ever recommended it to me. I think the locals keep that secret to themselves!

David Meerman Scott

Never even heard of the South Point. I'll definitely keep it in mind. Thanks

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