Tourism Industry and Sustainable Development

Prospect of the Hotel Health and Sports Section in China during the Epidemic

  • ZHU Xinyi , *
  • Shanghai Business School, Shanghai 200235, China
* ZHU Xinyi, E-mail:

Received date: 2022-05-15

  Accepted date: 2022-12-30

  Online published: 2023-10-23


The economic benefits of hotels are the basic conditions for their survival and development in the market environment, and are also the fundamental purpose for engaging in various business activities. Therefore, while facing great survival challenges from declining occupancy rates and catering activities during the epidemic, it is beneficial for hotels to effectively improve their recreation benefits. People are focusing more on health these days, so the health and sports section in the recreational industry is increasingly popular. Therefore, developing more attractive health and sports projects is a must for hotels to increase the consumption level, improve consumer satisfaction, and improve their social as well as economic benefits. Through various methods of analysis, such as literature analysis and comparative analysis, this study summarizes the transformation and development problems confronted by China’s hotel industry in the process of development. At the same time, combined with the relevant data and reports from recent years, and starting from the health and sports items of hotels in China, this study then analyzes the existing value of hotel health and sports projects, and constructs a comprehensive framework for the future development direction and prospects of hotel health and sports items. The results show three main aspects of this system. (1) The potential of China’s tourism market is huge, and as the number of domestic star hotels has been increasing year by year, the competition in the hotel market has become more and more fierce, which provides both a challenge and an opportunity for the current hotel industry. (2) Under the impact of the new COVID-19 epidemic, the consumer demand of hotel customers has shown a more distinctive difference, and the establishment of recreational projects will be one of the important means for promoting the development of the hotel. (3) By improving the internal and external publicity approaches, hotels can establish member mechanisms, combine tradition with innovation, actively carry out thematic activities, and organize online projects for the innovation of the body, etc., and all of these efforts are of great significance for the future development of the hotel. The results of this study provide theoretical support for the innovation model of the hotel industry in the new age, and are of practical significance for the development of the hotel industry.

Cite this article

ZHU Xinyi . Prospect of the Hotel Health and Sports Section in China during the Epidemic[J]. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2023 , 14(6) : 1344 -1349 . DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2023.06.021

1 Introduction

With the improvement of people’s living conditions, tourism has developed into an important way of life for relaxing the body/mind. As an important link in tourism, hotels are also gaining more attention. With the increase in domestic star hotels in recent years, the competition in the hotel market has become more and more fierce.
In 2020, most industries were directly impacted by the spread of COVID-19, and the hotel industry, as a representative of the real consumer end of the industry, suffered heavy losses (Sun, 2022). According to the World Tourism Barometer of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the number of international tourists worldwide dropped 74% in 2020, with 1 billion fewer international tourists visiting destinations around the world than the previous year. The epidemic has also led to great changes in customer consumption demands. With the advent of the epidemic, the consumption willingness and confidence of customers have decreased, their awareness of safety and protection has increased, and their demand for “contactless” services has increased (Pan, 2022). Over the years, the hotel industry and tourism have always been complementary to each other. However, due to the decline in demand and extensive travel restrictions in various regions, the hotel industry is generally faced with diminished growth, rising costs and other difficulties, in addition to the many hotel operational difficulties (Wu et al., 2022). According to the report The Impact of the Epidemic on National Hotel Accommodation Industry Performance released by the National Institute of Economics in February 2021, 57% of the 90% of hotel companies interviewed said that their revenue during the epidemic fell by over 75% compared with previous years, and rental rates were reduced to less than 10%.
Fortunately, China’ market has a huge scale. By April 2020, the epidemic was effectively under control in China. The hotel market has strong development momentum and effective measures to drive the market, which allowed many affected areas to recover faster (Wang et al., 2022). According to the economist Porter in his work Competition Strategy, the enterprise competition strategies can be mainly divided into cost-leading strategy, centralized strategy and differentiation strategy. Analyzing the general situation of the hotel industry, the differentiation strategy would be more applicable to hotels (Zhang, 2022). Therefore, figuring out how to further highlight their own characteristics and advantages by applying this strategy, form the industry market competitiveness, and occupy a bigger market share have become the main concerns of hotels. Studies have shown that when choosing hotels, people focus more on the hotels’ additional services. While meeting the basic needs of accommodation and food, people also want to have opportunities to do physical exercises and relax the body/mind via various leisure and health facilities. These facilities are called recreation projects. Since hotels are profit-oriented, the purpose of their business activities is to achieve operating benefits, economically and socially. Economic benefits are not only related to the development speed of hotels, but also their contribution to the future of the countries and benefits of employees. In the context of the low occupancy rate and declining catering volume, hotels are finding new ways to create special services that attract customers. The establishment of hotel recreation projects has become one of the effective means to attract consumers, extend the stay time, increase the hotel income and improve consumer satisfaction (Zhang and Yang, 2022). A 2020 survey of high-star hotel consumption behavior in Hainan Province indicated that besides traditional hotel functions such as accommodation, dining and weddings, leisure accounted for 30.70% of the consumption purpose.
Recreation refers to the leisure and recreational activities people participate in during leisure time, in certain places with facilities, to relax the body/mind, and restore and revive energy. It includes three fields: health and sports, health care and entertainment (Zhang, 2021). With the ever-accelerating economy and pace of life, people face greater pressure. So recreational activities are needed to relieve pressure, relax the body/mind, and meet further spiritual needs. Many countries also encourage the development of recreational activities at various levels, such as promoting long and short holidays, encouraging paid holidays, establishing ethnic holidays and so on, in order to stimulate recreational activities, and improve the economy and people's sense of happiness (Du and Gao, 2020). Currently in China, with the increasing focus on issues such as the aging population and sub-health, the social demand for health and market consumption options are both expanding rapidly. On the other hand, due to the increasingly competitive pressure in current society, many people suffer from tremendous spiritual and physical pressure, so they desire relaxation by means of tours or sports. Hence, in order to better satisfy the various demands from customers, many hotels are gradually combining the traditional catering and accommodation function with the emerging health and sports function. Meanwhile, when the number of customers seeking the health and sports items provided by hotels is on the rise, the hotels will witness a sound operation. For the hotels, health and sport items have become an important means of profit (Tang et al., 2022). The variety and customization of health and sports items will also evolve into a feature of a hotel, which attracts a greater number of new and returning customers. Combining health and sports items with the hotel operation and service will also create opportunities for the hotel to enlarge its customer base (Zhang, 2013). While health attracts more and more attention, health and sports projects in the recreation industry are also becoming more popular, creating new opportunities for hotels to attract customers and increase revenue.
Starting from the overall impact of COVID-19 on the hotel industry, this study analyzes ways to adjust the health project plans in the hotel recreation industry and adapt to the development of the hotel health industry in the new era during epidemics.

2 Ways to improve the market awareness of health and sports projects

In the 2020 Hainan High-star Hotel Consumption Survey 2, the majority of respondents had limited knowledge of recreational products. Therefore, hotels should increase their publicity to promote featured recreation projects.

2.1 Internal publicity

(1) Firstly, hotels should determine their own advantages, make full use of them and avoid their disadvantages instead of blindly following trends. In this way, the hotels can develop health and sports items with unique features. Based on the hotel and its surroundings, and exploring resources such as local features, hotels can use them as an important calling card for their health and sports features in order to attract customers. Hotels should arouse the interest of tourists at home and abroad to their health and sports items, and satisfy the customers’ needs for pursuing knowledge and new experiences.
(2) Hotels belong to the labor-intensive service industry, so staff is an important part of any hotel (Zuo and Xu, 2022). Hence, hotels may establish staff incentive mechanisms which are related to the economic benefits of the hotel (Ma and Qian, 2022). Staff should be encouraged to introduce the hotel’s value to customers outside of the hotel, and promote thehealth and sports culture and facilities (Yang, 2022). Staff from frontline departments, such as lobby and catering, may introduce the features of their health and sports products and recent activities, in addition to handing out promotional materials to non-residing customers. Hence, staff may help to improve the economic benefits of health and sports items.
(3) To the residing customers, receptionists may introduce and recommend health and sports items while the customers are checking in. An elaborate brochure, including pictures of health and sports items, introductions, discounts, rights and benefits, may also be placed in rooms. In this way, customers may learn many of the details and features of the available health and sports items in the very beginning of their stay. Hotels may also use forms such as TV switch-on commercials to promote the options further for more customers. Secondly, hotel staff may promote health and sports items in different ways to different customer groups. For example, facing business or foreign guests who focus more on quality, receptionists may first introduce the products with high but acceptable prices. If these products are not desired, staff then may move to products with progressively lower prices until the guests are satisfied (Song et al., 2022). Facing general guests, receptionists may start from the low-end options instead. When guests choose certain products, receptionists may also introduce other discounts to encourage the guests to consume more.
(4) With the advent of the internet era, by exploring the advantages offered by the internet, hotels may efficiently improve their platform functions such as an online customer database (Cai, 2022). Hotels may upload their health and sports items, as well as their features, onto various channels such as their websites or apps. Through interactions with customers, hotels may accurately grasp the customers’ demands and desired features in order to realize online social group promotion and attract more customers (Wang et al., 2022). Hotels may also recruit some young or skillful instructors for their health and sports department (Chen and Li, 2022). One purpose of this is to invigorate the department, and the other is to offer thoughtful service and professional guidance for guests or club members.

2.2 External publicity

(1) In terms of ad promotion strategies, hotels should select proper ad forms and media to optimize their promotion effects, raise the hotel’s ad investment reward ratio, and ensure that the right target groups receive hotel information including health and leisure activities. Ad contents should focus on the theme of hotel health and leisure. When choosing media, hotels should also focus on media related to ‘health and fitness’ and guarantee a customer base as well as business market (Guo, 2022). In addition, hotels may rely on current popular models such as self-media, and collaborate with public figures and popular app ad departments. In this way, interesting reports on popular figures using their health and sports items may be produced by news media and entertainment magazines (Shagirbasha, 2022). Hotels may incorporate their ideals and culture in order to customize vivid promotion slogans to encourage customers to check in and consume.
(2) Live online stores, games and other activities: Hotels can cooperate with websites and platforms with high flow rates to promote games or activities, to attract customers, and to improve the popularity of the hotel’s health and sports projects. They can encourage the public to follow live videos to fully feel the recreational activities.
(3) Hotel health and leisure programs may collaborate with other regional hotels or related enterprises/public sections to organize and attend large-scale festive activities. Hotels may promote their health and sports items through the promotions during festive holidays. Special times such as festive activities or weekends may function as key points for hotels to attract customers. Hotels may offer some coupons, and invite customers who are passionate about health and sports to stay with them. After experiencing the hotels, customers naturally obtain first-hand feelings about various services provided by the hotels (Manolitzas et al., 2022). In this way, hotels may accumulate loyal customers gradually over time. Also, hotels may raise their reputation by word-of-mouth promotion.
(4) With the emergence of self-media, internet celebrities play increasingly important roles in product sales (Gao and Gao, 2022). For example, the live streaming of ‘Mr. Luo’ reached 30 billion yuan. Liang Jianzhang, Chair of Ctrip board, hosted 11 live streaming events and the sales reached nearly 400 million yuan, which greatly encouraged confidence in the industry (Ma, 2020). Hotels may select stars or internet celebrities who enjoy a good reputation and draw much attention, and offer them some pre-sale tickets for the health and sports items. Then these people can sell the tickets through live streaming, creating a certain atmosphere at the same time. The ‘charm’ of famous figures may uplift the hotel products from their otherwise invisible quality. Also, they themselves have a large audience base, so they may deliver the health and leisure product information of hotels to an audience of thousands. Hence, hotels may obtain revenue and improve their image while enhancing the popularity of their health and sports items.

3 Design of innovative recreation projects

Most hotel consumers are humanistic and adventurous. So hotels can inject more scientific and technological elements when designing their health and sports projects, like combining trends or integrating local cultures. In addition, hotel health and entertainment culture should also reflect different contents and styles in different development stages (Yu, 2016). So hotel health and entertainment culture should continuously innovate and optimize in order to adjust to the needs of the market. In this way, hotels may remain dynamic.
The gross national product values of 1990, 1995 and 1997 were 1768.61, 5727.73 and 7477.2 billion yuan respectively (Guo, 2021). The continuously increasing economy provided macro-economic support for China's health and sports industry, and laid a sound economic development basis for the development of China's hotel health and sports industry market. On the other hand, the living conditions of Chinese residents are on the rise year by year. From 1995 to 1997, the disposable income per capita for families in towns and cities was 4283, 4826 and 5160 yuan, respectively. This increase has encouraged more people to regard their health as an important part of life quality (Buszard, 2022). Sports consumption, as one part of the investment in health, is also on the rise. From 1992 to 1997, the increase in the rate of cultural and sports items averaged 5.1%. In 1997, the total expenditure of sports items in China ranked sixth among important expenditures apart from daily necessity expenditures. In 2020, a survey of consumption behavior in star-graded hotels in Hainan found that the favorability of health and sports items occupied 41.89%, ranking the first. In “A Health China 2030 Planning Guideline”, health is emphasized as a necessary need for the all-round development and prosperity of people, a basic condition for social and economic development, and the common pursuit of the public. Meanwhile, the pandemic forced people to focus more on health. In 2020, the massive public health events triggered by COVID-19 spread to the whole world. Its swiftness and scope of coverage were beyond people’s expectations. It not only influenced production greatly, but also limited people’s activity range and options. People’s lifestyle was changed to a large extent. Sports culture is a soft power. It will produce great economic benefits when combined with scientific and technological processing approaches, as well as business promotion ideology. And in this way, it can become a hard power (Liang, 2021).

3.1 Establish a membership mechanism, collaborate with work units nearby to develop communally

The development of hotel health and sports items will necessarily attract a group of people who are passionate about fitness activities. However, they may not be able to occupy hotel rooms for consecutive days. If such customers are lost, hotels may suffer a great losses of revenue and logo promotion. Therefore, hotels should offer member discounts to some of the customers, so that they may no longer worry about hotel fees. In this way, the checking-in ratio of the hotel is not only raised, but the loyalty to the hotel from these customers is also strengthened. Additionally, hotels may open some health and sports items to the public in order to benefit more people, and to raise profits. At the same time, hotels may cooperate with surrounding units to form a harmonious development system. Through collaborative cards, communal membership systems and other programs, hotels and surrounding units may share resources and facilities to improve the contents and services related to hotel health and sports items.

3.2 A combination of traditional and innovative health and sports projects

The cultural development of the hotel health and sports section is the basic guarantee of their sustainable development, and also the key part of enhancing hotel health and entertainment competitive advantages as well as realizing their own development (Farronato and Fradkin, 2022). Through the combination of traditional outdoor sports and relatively large-scale sports such as golf, snookering and bowling, and aided by the computer technology, hotels may shift the sports indoors to save space. Also, indoor hotel health and sports items are not influenced by the weather. In this way, customers may enjoy the wonderful feelings from sports through a simulation system without stepping outside. This may not only enrich hotel health and sports items, but also ease issues such as the health and entertainment development similarities among high-end hotels as well as unsatisfactory development issues (Di and Wang, 2010). In other words, this may practically propel the all-round improvement of the domestic health and entertainment development level.

3.3 Provision of outdoor health and sports projects within hotels

While developing health and sports items, hotels should consider customized demands and offer various services to different types of consumption groups (Zhu and Lu, 2020). In this way, customers may obtain customized psychological satisfaction. Many passionate sports-lovers prefer outdoor sports items, so hotels may explore outdoor health and sports items such as grass-skating and small-scale skiing based on their own geographical surroundings and location advantages. By offering health and sports products of various levels and prices targeting customers with different consumption capabilities and preference, hotels may better serve their customers and meet the diversified consumption demands to the greatest extent (Wu, 2020).

3.4 Thematic activities featuring holidays

As a third-industry component, hotels play a crucial role in the service industry. Service is an invisible activity, and it may be consumed independently or combined with other goods (Cao, 2021). The hotel industry may explore in-depth combinations of their health and sports products with festive features. While promoting traditional festive cultural features, hotels may innovate their products and services. In this way, they can make use of cultural elements to immerse the health and sports items into every part of their service promotion strategy in order to effectively enhance the distinctive competitive edge of their health and sports service (Hunter et al., 2022). As a result, more customers will be attracted to take part in these services.

3.5 Increase non-contact services, namely online health and sports

With emerging technologies such as non-contact services and new media marketing, the application of high-tech in hotel health and sports has become an inevitable trend (Cao, 2020). Intelligence, convenience and scene-based technologies are new choices for consumers (Wu et al., 2022). The “Internet+” model has profoundly changed the whole hotel industry and it greatly strengthens the interaction between the hotel industry and consumers in two ways. First, the hotel can try to encourage health and sports equipment rental, such as bicycles, badminton, treadmills, etc., and organize PK competitions for both in-store and off-store consumers, in which the winners are rewarded with check-in and dining coupons to increase the consumption opportunities. Hotel recreation apps may expand and store customer information, and enhance customers loyalty and hotel exposure. Secondly, the hotel can also carry out the “Hotel Cloud Sports” project. During the epidemic, hotels may advocate a healthy lifestyle through online hiking or simulated travel (such as the Forbidden City Cloud travel) to consolidate hotel images in scenic spots.

4 Conclusions

In the post-epidemic era, featured experience is of great significance for the recovery of the hotel industry, and the rise of hotel health and sports programs is inevitable. Hotels can organize special sports activities, staff coordinated marketing, guest discounts, official website pushes, etc,, combined with we media, joint linkage, stars with goods, live store visits and other options, from internal and external publicity at the same time, in order to expand the market awareness of the hotel’s sports projects (Sun and Yoon, 2020). The establishment of membership mechanisms can strengthen the loyalty of customers to the hotel's health and sports projects. Combining computer technology and providing online cloud health and fitness projects can also break the limitations of time, space and type of hotel health and fitness projects, effectively attracting consumers and bringing economic benefits to the hotel (Su, 2020). The business challenges of the hotel industry will remain very substantial for a long time, so it is necessary to analyze the development of the market, explore new directions, and design and develop innovative hotel health and sports projects in order to actively explore new business channels for hotels and improve their business efficiency.
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