ROHIT VERMA: All right. Good afternoon, everyone. I think all the people who wanted to be here and could be here are already here, so let's get started. For the closing session of the symposium, we have a very special panel. There are four individuals here, on the stage with me, and they all have unique perspective about the intersection of hospitality and health.
There is one owner-operator of an upscale luxury group of hotels. We have somebody who represents an organization which is very involved in training about service culture, to both hospitality firms and health-care firms. We have someone who is creating innovative solutions to bring wellness in the indoor environment. And we have someone who does a lot of research to try to actually take hospitality in the health side.
So we have a very diverse panel, here. And, given that we have, for the last two days, many discussions about the role of hospitality in health and health in hospitality, we thought that it will be very useful to get their perspective. And we will have time for Q&A after that, as well.
So let me introduce our closing panel. First we have, to my left is Jeff Hargett. He is the senior corporate director at the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Institute-- or Center, sorry. Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.
After that, we have Alfredo Carvajal. He's the president of Delos Signature. After Alfredo, we have Dayssi Olarte Kanavos. She's the president and COO of Flag Hospitality Group. And then, finally, we have Rob Rush, who is the managing director within the Deloitte organization and managing director of LRA by Deloitte.
So, with that quick introduction, let me tell you a little bit about the charge for this panel. We asked the panelists to think about some innovative examples at the intersection of hospitality and health which they could share with us, from their unique perspective. And then we had discussed thinking about the success factors and some of the challenges in doing so.
So first what I would request all the panelists, starting from maybe Rob, on the other end, perhaps, do tell us a little bit about the background of their organization and share the innovative example and. Then we'll move on to other questions later, and then we'll work our way this way. Go ahead, Rob.
ROB RUSH: Thanks, Rohit. Good afternoon, everybody. My name's Rob Rush I am a managing director at Deloitte. Formed a company about five years after I graduated from the hotel school, here, that we grew for about 25 years and were acquired by Deloitte last summer.
We focused on customer experience measurement and service design, initially in hospitality space. But I've transferred that expertise and know-how to a variety of other verticals, including automotive, retail, travel, sports. And now, last summer, our company got acquired by Deloitte.
We sit in the Strategic Risk Services Group, within Deloitte. And, as Deloitte has a significant health-care practice, we're now kind of integrating our service-design expertise into the health-care space, along with our Deloitte clients. So that includes hospitals, clinics, senior housing, assisted living, a variety of different institutions where we're helping kind of go beyond HCAHPS and really help them design better customer experiences.
So we do a lot of journey-mapping, touchpoint-mapping, and that's a little bit about us.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. Dayssi?
DAYSSI OLARTE KANAVOS: Hi, I'm Dayssi Olarte Kanavos, and I'm a graduate of the hotel school, from the class of 1985. I'm very happy to see Professor Tabacchi here, who was a professor of mine when I was in school. And I started my hotel career actually thinking that I really loved operations. And by the time I was a sophomore, I realized that I was interested in other things.
And I discovered real estate. And I discovered that I wanted to develop hotels. And that's what I do. I actually build hotels. And we have several properties.
Our company's called Flag Luxury Group. And we basically build four- and five-star properties in New York City, in Florida. We've got Miami, Bal Harbour, and Tampa, Orlando. We are also looking at opportunities in Los Angeles, and we have a development upcoming, as well, in San Francisco.
In addition to that, we also do land-based entertainment and retail development. And by "land-based entertainment," I mean, for example, in Orlando we built the Orlando Eye, which is like the London Eye, but it's in Orlando.
And it's a great retail-entertainment venue because, unlike the London Eye, it actually has something to do, right there at the property. So, there are a multitude of restaurants and food and beverage outlets. We have a Madame Tussaud and a Sea Life. And so it's sort of a really nice half-a-day experience, or a couple of hours that you could spend, in this area.
So we're interested in that retail-entertainment area, as well. I focus most of my work in hospitality and in the hotels that we build. I am very, very focused on the customer experience and on enhancing the customer experience as much as possible. A lot of developers put in their own personal lifestyles, and they use their personal lifestyle to enhance the customer experience. And so we see a lot of great hotels that have great music or beautiful design, sometimes wonderful art.
And we feel that the customer experience is more than just that but that it needs to be viewed more holistically. And so, we try to put in a little bit of all the things that impact our lives. And one of the things that, to me, is really important is health and wellness.
And, like I was telling Rohit, I got really interested in this space over 25 years ago. I actually went gluten-free before it was a "thing." And it really improved my health and wellness.
And, ever since then, I've been really researching this space and trying to improve the health and wellness, with anybody that surrounds us, or our family. We eat organic. And all of our properties, we try very hard to source the best foods, the best waters, the healthiest products for our guests and try to stay away from harmful chemicals and things like that.
And one of the things that we're looking to do in the space is to really push our operating companies even further. And I've had the pleasure of even working with Alejandro Carvajal, from Delos, as well, to talk about that.
ALFREDO CARVAJAL: Thank you, Dayssi. My name is Alfredo Carvajal. And I am the president of Delos Signature, a division of Delos. I am not a graduate of this school, so I acquired that knowledge by bringing on board people from Cornell.
And so, I'm very glad to be here today, in this beautiful campus, and discussing what we're going to be talking about today, and seeing some great presentations. I've learned so much this morning. I really appreciate some of the comments that John and Joe made today, and some others, on the evolution-- you know, what's happening to the entire industry, when it [INAUDIBLE] not only about health but also senior living and so many other verticals that are being touched by this concept of wellness and healthy approaches to new things, new views.
Our company-- I don't know if you have learned about what Delos is, but I will invite you to go on our website-- was founded many years ago by-- probably seven now, but that's not many years in the eyes of a lot of people here that have 100-year schools-- organizations. But, seven years ago, we've been working on putting together the first body of work called the Well Building Standard that was launched in October 2014 that defines the knowledge that was collected by academia, health organizations, designers, and many, many others. And that body of work defines, what is a healthy building, at least on the basic. And, from there, we have been taking it to another level by working with more partners on bringing more and more knowledge about this concept of healthy design and how you infuse preventative health and wellness measures inside of any form of real estate.
So that's what Delos is. My background is in hospitality. I got the luck to work with Royal Caribbean, Disney, Ritz-Carlton. So I have a little bit of blue blood inside me, a tiny bit, but [INAUDIBLE]. And then wellness companies, like Canyon Ranch and some other places. So, love to discuss more with you later.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. Jeff, please. And
JEFF HARGETT: Good afternoon. Welcome to the end.
You made it. I told my last breakout session, if you have heard the words "Ritz-Carlton" or uttered the words "Ritz-Carlton," over these last three days, thank you so much for that. My advertising budget and my PR budget are really appreciative of all that advertising that's gone on.
It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for the opportunity. My name is Jeff Hargett. I'm the senior director of Culture Transformation at the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. The Leadership Center was born out of the training division of the Ritz-Carlton hotel company. We still are a part of the Ritz-Carlton hotel company.
We are very fortunate recipients of, twice now, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Many of you may be familiar with that. By receiving that recognition, we actually are required to allow others to benchmark our quality practices.
And when we got the first award, in 1992, we did so, and people would call us and say, what are you doing? How can we adopt some of the Ritz-Carlton practices into our organization? And we did what we could to help them and share with them. But when we won the award again, the second time, in 1999, as you can imagine the phone was ringing off the hook. And so, out of the training division, we developed the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.
And we work exclusively away from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel company. We're no longer focused on training our ladies and gentlemen that came up through the training division within the company, but we focus on how can assist other organizations to improve their service delivery to their customers or patients or clients or whatever title it may have-- even university students, faculty.
Because we know that service is such a critical component to the success of any organization. Our society advances so far in technology and all of the wonderful knowledge that we have. But we always have to remember-- and I think back to a commercial that I saw on television that really connects hospitality and health care.
There's a commercial about nursing, and it shows a very active ER. A patient has come in. They're in trauma. They're on the table in the ER. Staff is working on them, doing everything they knew to do. There's chaos, there's yelling, what do we need to do, et cetera.
And then the camera cuts away, brings us back a little bit later that evening, and it shows a nurse taking a key chain that fell out of the patient's pocket as they were bringing them in. And that key chain's in the shape of a four-leaf clover. And that nurse takes that four-leaf clover and places it in the patient's hand and wraps their hand around it.
And the narrator, the voiceover, says, I'm a professional. I'm a nurse, and I'm a professional in my industry. But I'm also a human being.
And so, from our perspective at Ritz-Carlton, we want to make sure that service comes from the people. Service is not an app. Service is-- those are wonderful things, and they really help us. It's not the new piece of machinery. It's not the new location.
We heard wonderful discussions about design, and those are so important. But, from our perspective, that service comes from that person, that interaction of that individual with the patient, with the family members, with our guests. And that's what we want to promote from the Leadership Center.
I've been with the company for a little over 21 years-- started on the ground level, taking reservations from our guests, working my way up through reservation management into training. Worked at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun and in Hawaii. Wow, pretty good. Cleveland.
I did move from Hawaii to Cleveland in February, so. But it truly has given me a great perspective on service across the industry. And now so much of our work is done in health care, from the Leadership Center. It's our pleasure to be able to bring our knowledge and our expertise to that field.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. Thanks, everyone, for giving their background. So as a first question for all of you, I think we talked a lot about health care and hospitality in general terms. Perhaps if you could give some specific examples of where you have seen either health play a big role in hospitality, or the other way round, in a very innovate format. That will be helpful to people.
Several of us are professors in the room. We'll use that example, steal it in our classes, for example, and perhaps for practice, too. So maybe, Dayssi, can I request you to start with this, since you are an owner-operator?
DAYSSI OLARTE KANAVOS: Sure. Thank you, Rohit. And thank you for this great invitation. I think that innovating in wellness and connecting it to hospitality is really very important today. And I think that wellness is really going to become, you know, perceived as not just a luxury for the wealthy customer anymore but for all the levels of people and customers that we have, today. And it's something that is not as hard to implement.
But owners have to see the value in what you're implementing. And so, for example, today I'm actually confronted with a problem that I'm going to find a solution to. And one of them is that I really wanted to have an agricultural outlet inside of our hotel. I'm building a new hotel in Manhattan, 250 rooms, right in the NoMad district.
So it's a high-rise, 39 stories. And my views that I've got these great outdoor spaces. And, rather than just fill them up with concrete or ignore them or just sell them for events, there's an area where I can actually have a garden. And so I don't just want to have any garden, but I actually want to have fruits, vegetables, herbs, and be able to have an organic farm, basically, right on my seventh floor, in the middle of Manhattan.
And it's not that easy to do. There are people that are starting to do it in New York. One of the hardest things to do is to do it in a high-rise.
But I am working with a farm called Farm On. And basically they're also connected to Cornell, because they're working with the Cornell Ag school to educate younger farmers and help them be able to have sustainable businesses. So, in a way, we're supporting each other in this effort.
And so, I think that being able to provide fresh produce that is actually vine-ripened and that doesn't have to travel at all and is actually really sustainable and something that can be done within a city that people don't realize that this is completely doable. And it requires a lot of support from the engineers, the architects.
There are now new businesses that are sprouting out in Manhattan that are just focused on the urban, you know, "farmer." And we're seeing a lot more farmers partnering with New York. And I wouldn't be surprised if, in 20 years from now, we all look down and all of New York's roofs are all green and, you know, it's not just a concrete jungle anymore.
But these are things that are innovations, but they're not that easy to implement. And it's hard for either the operator of the properties-- so I'm using an outside operator, I'm not operating the hotel, myself. And hard to convince my partners that this is something that is going to be of great value to the hotel. You know?
So I would say that's a real challenge, because I can't say that I have all the data that's going to support it. Right? I'm just saying that this is a leap of faith. And I know that, if I provide an unusual and a different experience, and I can delight my guest, that I will reap the rewards of that. And I also believe that I'll really enhance their stay.
So, in the end, I won't have the data until I actually implement it. So I think that that's a challenge in innovation.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. Thank you. Rob, do you want to give an example from your experience, since you have worked with so many companies?
ROB RUSH: Yeah, I think-- you know, I started out in the hotel business and built a consulting practice mostly focused on hotel companies. So, transferring that expertise and know-how to health care is relatively new for us. But I think what we found is, as Jeff mentioned, some real commonality, in terms of this intersection of product, wellness, and service experiences.
And much of our work is helping organizations design better patient experiences, so they can be a go-to brand. And so much of that has to do with the empathy, resourcefulness, the attitude of staff. So, many of the projects we're working on are really helping organizations within these health-care groups, particularly HR, identify the right kinds of talent, people that are predisposed to want to serve other human beings in oftentimes very difficult, challenging situations, much more so than hospitality situations.
And so, what we have found is, oftentimes the rigor and patience to interview 12 people, to find one person who's the right person to sit at a reception desk, or to work in billing, is just not there. And, ultimately, you know, the best companies, clearly the ones that I admire in the hospitality space, someone like Danny Meyer at Union Square Hospitality, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons put so much rigor in the onboarding process, to ensure that they filter out and get the right people. And that is absolutely true in health care.
And one of the things we're learning, as we work with many of the nursing groups, is that they don't necessarily have the tools, the time, the training, or the resources to deliver the kind of empathetic service that an organization wants. And so a lot of our time is really spent helping these organizations recognize how important it is to put the right people on the front line that, by their nature, want to serve other people.
And those skills really can't be taught. You know, I think, just like we can teach a person at a hotel to cook a piece of fish or to run a procedure, you can't teach a person really how to be warm, engaging, resourceful, empathetic, anticipatory, friendly, courteous, respectful. And you have to hire for that.
And we're working with, right now, with the third-largest health-care organization in the country, that's struggling with this. They have, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, a strong focus on their HCAHPS outcomes, which probably 70% or 80% are really patient outcomes, not necessarily experiential. And there is some correlation between HCAHPS and revenue, but it's not across the board.
And so a lot of our work really comes back to all the same things we've done in hospitality for many years, which is onboarding the right kind of talent that can deliver an enriching experience in a difficult health-care setting.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. Thank you. Alfredo or Jeff, one of you want to give another example?
ALFREDO CARVAJAL: Yeah. We'd love to tell a little bit of a story. But, before I go to that, let me put things into context. Just having a conversation with you, Rohit, before we sat down here, I think that, in design, we've seen multiple periods of time, in so many ways. And if you think about it, in the past, very ancient times, we start designing from functionality. Building a hut-- anything that we put together.
Then we became more advanced, and we designed for beauty. And we care about the ways things look. And just go to Spain, to Grenada, to the Alhambra castle, and you will see a place that is designed for beauty-- and a gorgeous, gorgeous place.
Then, after that, what we did. Remember the big moment about green? We designed for responsibility and for the future. The next generation-- and I think this is a conversation we're having today, here-- is that we're designing for humanization of spaces and a way of taking care of people for the future. And I mean by that, people's health.
And how can we design buildings for health, in the long term? It's going to be defined by us not only following a scientific pattern but also an emotional pattern and, in so many ways, a social pattern And I think that conversation is happening today. I don't know how many people, say, in the past two weeks, how many comments came out in the Wall Street Journal and several other publications about the failure of open spaces in offices. I think a lot of us have been reading about that.
We're also reading about the sick-building syndrome everywhere, and how many buildings, especially prewar buildings all over the country, that are really unlivable for people. So, what Delos has been working on is defining, what is a healthy piece of real estate? What is a healthy built environment?
And, when you start thinking about the technologies that have been fragmented for a long time, what we can do with lighting, what we can do with air quality, what we can do with even the sounds that we are exposed to every day, it's fascinating what can come together. And that's what we are working on, now.
Now, in hospitality, the biggest definition, the biggest issue that we had, was to prove to the market that is a word called "return on wellness." Let's call it "ROW," OK? What is that?
For many years-- and Mary knows this, because you did some studies here, and you know so many big companies have done, trying to research. If you put up a spy inside of a hotel, would you get better ADR or is anything that comes back to you? And that was pretty-- came out with some good results, but it was pretty inconclusive, in so many ways.
So, we embark in a conversation with very intelligent people, including Rohit and Alita. Where are you? [LAUGH] And I will tell you, some people from Clemson University, this great team, here. Alita, thank you for so much for your help. But-- and [INAUDIBLE] she's still here.
But we researched a property that we have in Las Vegas that has been open, now, for more than three years, going to four, and went to 60 million lines of data, out of occupancy-- anything that you can imagine. And I will tell you, this morning, this was presented, in the return of wellness exist. I'm talking about, when it comes to experience alone, you leave every other room category behind.
And I'm talking about just infusing wellness concepts and ideas, inside of this regular room. And you compare it to another regular room? That client has spent more money, is happier, recommends the property to others, and happens to be a better client altogether.
So there is something that, if I tell you 20 years ago that Lycra pants will make people rich, you will laugh at me. [INAUDIBLE] go and talk about the guys at Lululemon that created basically an industry. And it's because of them, now, going to the gym is a fashion statement. It's because of--
Health and wellness has taken such positioning that today, a gym company can open a hotel. And you're going to see that with Equinox, in New York City. And you will see that the country club is being replaced by one of those fitness centers, fancy fitness centers. There's no small country-club business, almost, left. Millions of people not signing for memberships in country clubs, every single year.
And what's going to happen next, I think, is that we don't put people in the center of design. We don't put people in the center of everything we do and what they want. And think about hotels. We are not there just to offer a bed and a pillow and a shower and a TV. We're there to offer a less disruptive travel experience, actually an enjoyable travel experience. It comes also on the service side, but also come in the functionality, and also comes back to the way that you design a room, in every aspect, and what you need.
And sometimes people don't know what they need. So there's so much science already, and so much good technology out there, that I can't wait to see what's going to happen next, when more and more of this functional spaces start being put together in multiple areas, from airports to planes to you name it. Everything that will reduce the disruption of travel.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. Jeff, from your teaching and consulting, can you share some examples, as well?
JEFF HARGETT: Certainly. And I think it's one of the things that Alfredo talked about and one word that he brought up. And I think it really relates to all the panelists, here. And that's emotion. It's an emotional experience, from Dayssi's-- the farming that's there. I mean, and we all know, from a hotel perspective, we're going to rent every space we can possibly get our hands on if there's-- if somebody wants to have a wedding in that room, we're going to have a wedding in that room.
So it's that whole idea of-- talking about taking that risk, taking that risk to put that there. And, in looking at the relationship between health care and hospitality and what's been said already, I think there's so many things that can benefit both industries, from that emotional perspective. When people are in health care, when they're in the hospital, it is emotional, not only for that person but also for their family. And keep in mind, too, as we know, in the health-care arena, you're not always dealing with the patient, because the patient may be unconscious. So now you're having to deal with the family and the decisions that they have to make and emotional things that are there.
And, in speaking about that, we have to make sure, as Rob talked about, it's that person that's delivering that, from the moment that they understand your organization, they know who you are and what you stand for. It's very important that they deliver on your behalf, on your behalf, to that constituent. You know, it's interesting that we talk about health care and hospitality and relating the two. And I think, again, a little bit about what Dayssi was talking about and how we're now having the green roofs.
I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. In the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, we have a green roof. We have beehives on the roof. It is a very green designed building, the first LEED-built Ritz-Carlton hotel that's in our portfolio.
So, all of the things that we're talking about in both industries are so connected. They're so connected, in how we're going to deliver that. But I think so much of it does come down to that emotional relationship that we make not only with the brand, the emotional relationship that we make with the individuals who are delivering the service, but it's also the emotional relationship internally. And Rob touched a little bit on this, as well.
We have to learn to work together as a team. This will not succeed if there are silos. We have to learn to work together as a team.
And, in my visits with hospitals and in studying hospitals, I see lots of that happening, that there's lots of silos that are going on. And we've got to get to that place where we're there to support each other. We have a very unique look at that, at Ritz-Carlton, and that's-- we call it "lateral service."
And "lateral service" means, when I see my coworker in need of help, I help them. Has nothing to do with job title, job description. It's the simple fact that we're on the same team. And if I can do something to assist you and for us to win, then I want to help you. I want to make that happen. So I think it's great that we have this opportunity to bring all of this together.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. So maybe Jeff's comment leads to the next question, which is, all of you gave several reasons why we need to have hospitality in health and the other way around. But it's not easy to do. There are clearly challenges. And some of it, you mentioned, you know, maybe there are silos. Maybe Dayssi has to convince her partners and coworkers. Maybe something else.
So, perhaps you could spend a little bit of fame about, what are some of the key challenges you think exists, from your perspective, in bringing one industry to the other. And, after that, we have a little bit of time. We like to open for audience question, before I ask something else. So, anybody wants to take that?
ROB RUSH: Yeah, Rohit, I'll just follow up Jeff's remarks. One of the areas we spend a lot of time doing the kind of work we do is working with, as you can imagine, labor unions and labor organizations in service environments that had very strict work rules that, on its surface, would negatively impact an exceptional customer experience, for sure. And what we've seen in the lodging industry, and even in the airline industry, is a willingness to shift work rules, attitudes, the way people are paid, to allow contracts to permit different experiences.
And I think one of the things that I've encountered, I guess, in the last two years in our work in health care is relatively new. But seeing a reluctance on the part of unions within health-care environment to be willing to shift in that direction. And I think that's probably one of the impediments. And I suspect, as the industry gets more competitive and more organizations bring on more VPs of patient experience, that's going to change. And as they start to benchmark outside of the health-care industry, that will change.
It's going to be necessary, because the frontline folks, for the most part, if they're not physicians, they're typically oftentimes covered by these work rules. And that's going to have to shift.
JEFF HARGETT: I'd just make a quick comment, Rob, because you're absolutely right. And, very fortunately for Ritz-Carlton, having worked in New York City and opened the two properties that are there, I believe this is still the case, but we have within our agreement with the unions in New York the term "lateral service." Which means we have to be very, very careful about how that's used and how we approach that, so the team has to be very well trained.
But the resistance, I think, oftentimes is it's different, and I've got to get the job done, and I don't have time, and all of those things we hear on a regular basis. But it's being able to convince and to show that this is not in any way about finding ways to add more work. We're trying to think about streamlining and making the art of service more of that [INAUDIBLE] and are a craft. And oftentimes it's very difficult for them to just see that.
DAYSSI OLARTE KANAVOS: It's interesting that that's a difficult thing for the workers to see, because-- we really didn't talk a lot, in this conference, about mental wellness. Right? And mental wellness is something that hasn't been a big discourse in America, you know, for a very long time. I feel like we're just getting to the tip of the iceberg.
But some of the studies that I've found really interesting, coming out of the University of Pennsylvania, on positive psychology, I think, are really important, because, for the workers that are actually doing the same type of job, day after day, and they're not going to move into higher management, their jobs can be just really difficult because of that. Right? Because they are so rote.
But the studies have shown that, if the person can find a higher meaning in that job, that that person can be a happier person. Right? And we know a happier person is going to give you better service, of course.
And so I read this really interesting study, from the University of Pennsylvania, where they actually had two hospital workers, basically. And one of them was depressed and had a lot of medical bills, et cetera. And then the other one was a really happy person and somehow was never absent from work and delighted in his job.
And when they looked at what made those two really different, it was-- you know, the person that was the caretaker that was optimistic and really put his heart and soul in his job. They saw him, for example, that every single day he was bringing in either fresh flowers or changing the art in the room or doing something different to a patient that was in a coma. And when the researchers asked him, you know, why are you doing that, if the person doesn't even know you're making all of these changes?
And he said, well, the day he wakes up I want it to be perfect. And every day I'm going to do something to get there, so that it's a really special day for him. I don't want it to be that this was just an afterthought and I wasn't there.
And so I think one of the things that we have to do, as managers, is help people get there, too, in a more positive way. And we need to manage for that positivity and that optimism and help people really find that higher value in their job that can increase their satisfaction. And that's in mental health. And I think we overlook that, sometimes.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. That's a great suggestion for all. Thank you. Alfredo, you want to add?
ALFREDO CARVAJAL: One more thing I will tell you. Out of one of the biggest challenges, for example, now, going back to putting together this new ideas and concept. We talk about "humanizing design" and "humanizing real estate." The toughest part-- and I was recently in a meeting-- I will tell you that-- is trying to get people in the same room to agree with each other, sometimes.
And not only that but everybody has a new technology or something to talk about. Oh, this will make this place healthier. Sometimes it's lighting experts. Sometimes it's a guy that worked with, you know, air filtration systems. And anybody that is an expert in each other's field. And you will see this in universities, when studies are very silo-driven.
When we're talking about humanizing real estate, and especially bring health and wellness, we need a multidisciplinary approach. And that's the toughest part, because everybody wants their technology to come in front, or people don't know what questions to ask. Let me give an example.
I was recently in a meeting with a group of people that are designing the future of mammography-- what they're going to do with those spaces. And it was fascinating to hear the conversation, when one of the largest manufacturers of this equipment basically had a very different opinion of how those places should look. And this company was tasked about making those places more attractive.
I'm not a woman, but I grew up in a home full of women. I was the only guy in the house, besides the dog.
[LAUGH] And that didn't count much. But I will tell you something, that the reality, that was a scary moment for every woman in my house, and it still is. And when you go to one of those places, that's the last place you want to go. And that's why a lot people don't do screenings.
But what if we make that place better? And several questions come to design. The lighting on the space, even the surfaces that you have to touch and the look of the equipment. And guess what. This company that's designing this equipment, pay attention.
And so I had to realize that this room was, on top of that, cold. And the reason what the room was cold is because nobody asked the question to the designer, why the room has to be at this temperature. It's because one component of that machine had to be at that temperature.
So that company said, oh, let's make that part have the sun air, basically, conditioning system, to make it cooler! And now the room can be over 75 degrees. What a great discovery!
But that's what's happening. I'll just give you a more example of what's going on when you don't put the people on the same table. When we're talking about all of this wealth of technology. Go to CES or any of the technology events, and everybody is in their own channel. They're like 1,000 channels talking about health and wellness, health and wellness, They're in their own channels.
The most difficult conversations going to be-- and it's for us, too, in many ways-- is putting everybody on the table to agree. We have that experience now. We built a lab, a collaboration with Mayo Clinic. It's the first of its kind. It's called the Well Living Lab, in Rochester, Minnesota. I invite you to go if you happen to be in that region.
But that is one of the biggest collaborations [INAUDIBLE]. You see Watson, IBM, working together with Microsoft. And that's something that we've never seen. Whitney knows this. She's been there.
And I will tell you, it will really blow your mind what can happen, when we can put all of those people on the same table-- how fast, and how much data we can accumulate, to understand the real effects of this wellness technologies can have on people and people's life and [INAUDIBLE] basically the better quality of life. So, I will say, the biggest challenge is going to be that conversation, and get people to ask the right questions.
Imagine that question that I told you about mammography. You can change the temperature in a room. That is a scary thing that you can do, probably. Or the color of the room. Put plants inside. Make it much more of a more friendly approach.
And people are paying attention, finally. I think that that is happening right now.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. These are some very powerful ideas for us to consider. I can ask more questions, but let me-- yeah. Melissa? Lou, can you please give the microphone, there?
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] Going back to the conversation about unions, a minute ago, they are a different-- the union itself is an organization. Is it on? [INAUDIBLE]
ROB RUSH: We can hear you.
AUDIENCE: The union itself is an organization. It is a business. [INAUDIBLE] people who are members of the union is a different part of that organization. And a lot of times, when we talk about unions, dealing with the unions, but we're not talking about people who are the members of those unions. So it's just something to keep in mind [INAUDIBLE] bringing all the stakeholders together. The unions themselves sometimes have a very different business model than what their employees they're representing [INAUDIBLE].
DAYSSI OLARTE KANAVOS: It's interesting that you're saying that, because right now, in New York City, we're seeing a big sea of change, in terms of the unions and what they're willing to do to get you to build a hotel and agree to let the union run the hotel. You know, today they've agreed that we don't have to have our food-and-beverage areas managed by the hotel company or be unionized. Right?
So, we are being able to get better agreements with them. In many ways, they are much more open than they used to be, because they are definitely losing a lot of businesses that don't want to do business with unions or would rather just build elsewhere. And with so many hotels in New York, people-- they're losing their money on the restaurants every day, on room service, and just basically cutting the services to the point where the unions were losing so many of those jobs anyway and they'd rather at least, you know, preserve food-and-beverage jobs in the city by having those be nonunion and lock it in for the hotel area.
AUDIENCE: So, along those same lines, I wasn't going to bring this up until you brought up unions, but what I found, spending 30 years in the behavior-change world of incentives and motivation and loyalty is that, when you co-create and you bring some of the union participants in to co-create, and then give them the opportunity to opt in-- they don't have to do it; it's a volunteer opt-in-- they do it. And it becomes sort of this pig in a python. You end up with the masses coming over. So we've been in steel mills and auto industry and you name it, and the union members come over. It's the leadership that has an issue.
The conscious-capitalism companies, the B corporations, the firms of endearment, those exemplars that you read out there, are growing steadily. It used to be conscious capitalism would have maybe 20 members show up, and now they've got several hundred going up to Babson, where Michael Johnson now is. And I think a lot of the people go to that to share best practices.
I love what Rohit's doing by bringing health care and hospitality together to share practices. I'm curious how you all would recommend accelerating that sharing of practices and principles and so forth so we can move the needle faster. Besides just conferences, I mean, how would you recommend we share?
ROB RUSH: That's a great question. One of the things that we do are bringing people from different industries into our health-care clients. Because these union leaders, if you will, or their members, are customers. They're patients, they're guests, they're passengers. They understand a good experience when you get one.
And when you can take a look outside your industry at other industries and some of the challenges and barriers they've had to overcome, it's helpful. And you're right. You bring them back into their organizations. And if they're part of the solution, it accelerates the change. And it's one of the practices that we do, and we find it's helpful.
ROHIT VERMA: Maybe-- I'm not a panelist, but I have an idea. Can I answer? So we, at Cornell, we have-- as professors, we all write academic articles. We publish, and we cite each other. And if we get five citations, we feel that's the best thing ever in the world.
That's true. If you get five citations, that's a superhit article, for those of you who are not in academia. You [LAUGH] may not know this.
But one of the things which we do here which has worked very well is making all our research easily accessible to industry. And so we have this digital library called Scholarly Commons in the School of Hotel Administration. Within two and a half years, we just crossed 1 million downloads of articles just written by our faculty, here.
And what I'm hoping is that, over time, we can make that open to any of the companies who we work with, whether it's the slides or videos or white papers they publish, we can make them available through that. Because that database automatically get indexed by all the top service providers, like Google and others, and people know to look for them. I think that will be a great way to share lots of these things. So we are happy to do that, anybody who wants to participate in that. [INAUDIBLE].
AUDIENCE: I have another question.
ROHIT VERMA: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] You know, Jeff and Dayssi brought up the emotion and the mind and the mental health, et cetera. I'm so taken by that. Because right now, we have this whole issue with senior living and housing and hospitals, where people are nervous, upset, worried, et cetera. And we have senior homes that are worrying about how to handle people who are losing slowly their neuroplasticity, for lack of a better term. You know, they may be moving towards senility or Alzheimer's.
So it seems to me that one of the things we need to think about is that emotion that you talk about and how you deal with that. And it seems to me that one of our future things or something we should think about, particularly in these industries that we're talking about here, is, what are we going to do to enhance mental feelings, emotional feelings, that cause all the anxiety and so on and so forth that we deal with in this society?
I mean, we're neurotic watching [LAUGH] the debates, it's just like-- [INAUDIBLE]. So, anyway. And everybody gets all worried and nervous, et cetera.
But a future thought for, or something that you guys have all thought about-- I know Bob, and I know that Alfredo thought about this-- is, there's this whole thing called "compassionate meditation." I don't know if you've seen it, but it's really quite a science. And all of that put together could fit in a discussion, here, that's so important. Because if we don't handle the mental-health issue--
Dayssi, you're right. If we don't handle it, if we don't start to take it in our heads when we're dealing with the people who are going to be our clients, et cetera-- whatever you want to call them-- customers, clients, whatever, OK-- guests-- whatever. If we don't take that into account, we're not going to be helping them have the healthiest, happiest life they can have.
ROHIT VERMA: That's a good point.
DAYSSI OLARTE KANAVOS: Absolutely. And, in fact, you know, America is in the middle of a depression epidemic, right? And it is a very serious problem. One of the things that I'm very excited to do is that I'm working with Dr. Woody Merrell, who is at the forefront of alternative and wellness medicine. He is also a medical doctor, and he created the alternative centers at Columbia University. And then he created the Continuum Center for Health at Beth Israel. And, with his work there, he introduced meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and so many things to the patients there.
And it came to the point that, in some of the data that he was accumulating, they realized that it was actually the nurses that were requesting more of the meditations and more of the visualizations, because the clients that were actively involved in these activities were using less pain medication. And so, you know, that reduces the use of prescription drugs and things like that.
And so, I'm working with Woody Merrell on introducing a health-and-wellness program for our guests at our property, in conjunction with our spa. So a series of lectures and meditations and all different people in health and wellness and in psychology, as well. But one of the things that we thought was really important was that it would really be interesting to not just offer that for our guests but also for our staff.
So, you know, a staff that is more calm, that maybe started their day with a meditation, is going to be able to deliver a better experience for the guests. Or somebody that was able to try out one of the guided visualizations, et cetera, can speak to the guests, first hand, and say, oh, by the way, we've got this at 5 o'clock. If you want to stop by the spa. And we've got this group meditation going on. I did it. It was really great.
And I think that it sounds great when we talk about it, and it seems kind of obvious that somebody that would have a meditation could give better service. But that's something that we're going to have to try to quantify. Because without the data, then we won't be able to convince other people that maybe these are better practices, not just for hospitals or businesses but actually people that are in touch with other people. And there's a connection that you have with somebody, or that you don't have, or there's an energy that you're getting from them, that these are really good and impacting you or they're just not giving that to you at all.
So there's definitely an impact. But, in my point of view, I look at it more in terms of, the value that I'm creating isn't just to get a higher ROI but also to create jobs and create employment-- people that can be happy doing what they're doing. So, the need to quantify them, and the need for people like Rob to help us out with that, I think, is really important, and with the university.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] just so you people who work in this field more than I do, the National Institute of Mental Health had so much data like Dayssi's talking about. I mean, it's an incredible amount of data. So, if you want validation for using this, it's there. I mean, go on that-- first--
I mean, if you can't get on the NIMH, go on to NIH and it will direct you to the NIMH, National Institute of Mental Health, and it'll really give you a lot of info.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you.
DAYSSI OLARTE KANAVOS: But, like, for example, Professor Tabacchi, today, I think, one of the most important articles that impacted people in America was actually Harvard's study on meditation, that it actually changes your brain. And that was really something that I think changed to the whole movement of meditation in America. And so I think that sometimes the universities have a much better way of conducting those studies so that they actually impact change. And that's really what we're looking for, right?
ROHIT VERMA: I think some people have flights after this, so I'm going to ask Whitney for one-- we'll take one more question, and then we'll formally end it. And then we can continue the conversation later.
WHITNEY AUSTIN GRAY: All right. So, Whitney Austin Gray, from Delos. Thank you! This is a great way to end a fantastic conference. And we rarely get a chance to work at conferences between disciplines, like this, that raise ideas and raise new ways of thinking.
And so I really just wanted to capitalize on what some of my colleagues have brought up around mental health and workers' health and things that we've learned in health care and things we're learning in hospitality. So, for the first time in the last five years, CDC has been looking at the workplace stress as the new secondhand smoke. We're talking about the fact that, in health care, we're doing a lot with patient-centered care. A lot of people argue that's in response, because we focus too much on the worker. So now it's swinging back around, and there's some questions about, are we forgetting about the worker?
When we think about healthy places and healthy hotels we work with, it's not just for the consumer, end consumer. We reduce those toxins, we're also reducing exposures to the worker. And I just wanted to raise those issues and also around mental health and stress. So We're about one in two people deal with mental-health episodes some time in their life. One in four are in therapy, currently.
And so I'd love to see this topic explored more, and lessons learned around hyperfocusing on clients, hyperfocusing on patients, and forgetting that experience starts with clearly the employees that are there. And there is nowhere near enough information on not just health, which is lack of disease, for many of us, but true promotion of well-being. So I think it's a fascinating topic, and I just wanted to build on that and thank the speakers for bringing this up and ask for any kind of comments to conclude.
ROHIT VERMA: Thank you. Thank you, Whitney. So let me formally end the session. And then, after that, we'll continue to have conversation. But please stay here. We have more things to do. So, thanks, panelists. Thank you very much.
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Panelists discuss the adoption of healthier offerings in hospitality firms, Oct. 11, 2016 at the Cornell Symposium for Hospitality, Health, & Design.
Featuring: Rohit Verma, Executive Director of CIHF; Alfredo Carvajal, President of Delos Signature; Jeff Hargett, senior corporate director at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center; Dayssi Olarte Kanavos SHA ’77, President and COO of Flag Luxury Group, LLC; and Rob Rush SHA’77, Managing Director in the Advisory Group of Deloitte & Touche LLP.