Popup Medical Tourism Kiosks in Hotels: Watching the USA Play "Catch-up"



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Maria Todd is a trusted authority in the healthcare industry frequently hired to provide her expertise about patient acquisition and marketing medical tourism services. With more than 40 years of experience in the industry, her client list spans hospitals, surgeons, ambulatory health facilities, hotels and health resorts, and other healthcare providers and investors in the USA and 116 countries. 

In many parts of Europe and Asia, popup tour operators advertise sightseeing tours in underutilized space in hotel lobbies. But in the USA, this concept is just now being tested. Last week, Rent the Runway announced that it was partnering with Marriott-owned W Hotels. Visitors at four W Hotels will have the option to rent four pieces of clothing from Rent the Runway when they book their rooms, which will be placed in the closets of their rooms when they arrive.

Could health tourism operators, medical and dental clinics and surgeons use this approach to entice visitors to consider checkup packages and minor cosmetic procedures during their stay or while attending a business event or conference?  Actually, it’s done with regular frequency throughout Ukraine, Greece, Spain, Italy, Philippines, Japan, China, and elsewhere with relative success for what little it costs to set up.

Pop Up Kiosks in Hotels

I’ve worked on marketing and business development projects and assignments for a number of health tourism clients in 117 countries since 1983.  That’s more than 37 years of experience and observations at a global level. For medical and dental tourism startups, these popup kiosks are a less expensive way to introduce your medical and dental tourism products and program to potential new customers beyond spending more money on digital marketing or opening a storefront in a shopping mall, a tactic that is popular in the Middle East. 

Mixed Use Real Estate Development and Planning

As mixed-use real estate projects proliferate, people need to leave home less and less to shop or obtain health services. I’ve consulted on several mixed use developments in the USA, Greece, Aruba, Colombia, Qatar, Philippines, Spain, Italy, Mexico and elsewhere.  Hotels are looking for partnering opportunities to develop unique services to offer guests. If the hotel is appropriate for your medical and dental travel patients, this option may be one worth your consideration. How can you enhance their service offerings? That is the key to the pitch you’ll design with potential hotel partners. Think, revenue per available room (RevPAR). How could you enhance their RevPAR? That’s how they benefit. Next, how can their guests benefit? That’s the pitch you’ll make within your kiosk.

The W Hotels example with Rent the Runway is an example of disruption of how guests pack and dress as they travel. How about health and wellness services? Could you disrupt how people buy and use healthcare?

People who check in for multi-day stays are often more affluent and have more discretionary income. That’s a valuable base to tap for cosmetic procedures such as dermal fillers, Botox, consultations that lead to return visits (at the same hotel that they already know and trust), and possible surgical packages.  You can drive trial use and brand awareness through an executive checkup package this way so that they come to know and trust your healthcare facility and its medical staff in a non-threatening way. 

Some women in the USA must wait for their women’s health exam for a year! Could you offer that exam plus a mammogram at a lower price with more convenience all in a morning or afternoon along with a lunch or a high tea? What are the other options? Pharmacies can also use this option, with a pick up and drop off service for prescription and OTC medications and consultations where permitted by law. Imaging centers and labs can use this option for packaged condition-testing and screenings. Dialysis centers can use this option. Even senior respite care providers can offer attendant care for families traveling with sick or seniors with dementia unable to join on more physically demanding outings. 

An adjunct way to market is also to geofence the hotel and restaurants and serve simple digital messages that steer hotel guests to visit the kiosk, view a video, download a podcast, or collect a premium – a useful tool, a USB drive, a coupon for an additional discount if they book a consultation or package prior to departure, or something else.  Geofencing is not expensive and is that accurate these days. 

Whatever you do, carefully consider one approach that failed miserably in Las Vegas and has been sold for upwards of USD $50,000 by an industry trade association’s alter ego consulting firm: Printed medical tourism “cluster” directories. It doesn’t work, it’s a waste of paper, and it is soon outdated. And contrary to their theory and pitch, people don’t pick it up and take it home to refer to later. 

You can also create a DL card, that fits into brochure racks in the hotels (right).

Please don’t copy my “Wheels Down to Wheels UP™” trademarked service mark without proper licensing.

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