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Hotel Tech-in: The app helping guests beat jet lag

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has tapped Timeshifter, which uses science to help travelers navigate time differences, to improve the guest experience.


Published May 31, 2024 Noelle Mateer, Editor


Guests can access Timeshifter using QR codes strategically placed throughout InterContinental hotels. Courtesy of Timeshifter


Hotel Tech-in is our regular feature that takes a closer look at emerging technology in the hospitality industry.


In recent years, the easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions has led more travelers to prioritize cross-country trips, according to McKinsey & Company’s “State of Tourism and Hospitality 2024” report. 


But international travel often comes with a major headache: jet lag. 

“Some people say, ‘I don’t get jet lag,’” said Mickey Beyer-Clausen, co-founder and CEO of Timeshifter, an app on a mission to make jet lag history. “Everyone gets jet lag. You can measure it in the lab.”


Timeshifter works with users to create personalized jet lag plans, recommending practical steps to shift time zones more easily, such as reducing light exposure and avoiding caffeine during certain hours. 


The app in February announced a partnership with IHG Hotels & Resorts’ InterContinental brand to give hotel guests access to its jet lag-fighting tech. Hotel Dive sat down with Beyer-Clausen to discuss how harnessing circadian rhythm science can impact the guest experience. 


Health benefits


Jet lag effects go beyond sleepiness. 


“Jet lag is not just about feeling off for a few days,” Beyer-Clausen said. “Your entire biology is disrupted.”


The phenomenon impacts a traveler’s alertness, mood, metabolism, immune function and more. That weakened performance can hurt travelers’ ability to fight off viruses and also increase a person’s likelihood of getting into an accident. 


Everyone gets jet lag. You can measure it in the lab.

Mickey Beyer-Clausen

co-founder and CEO of Timeshifter


When a person’s time zone doesn’t sync with their internal circadian rhythm, their brains send signals to their bodies to rest or be alert at the wrong times. Timeshifter addresses this by offering tips to better align travelers with their internal cycles, such as avoiding light exposure during certain hours. (Beyer-Clausen said that accomplishing this can be as easy as wearing sunglasses when outside.) 


“It’s all about the right timing of light exposure and light avoidance,” he said. 


Growing interest in sleep


Timeshifter’s partnership with InterContinental comes as hotel guests think about sleep health more than ever. 


In tandem with rising interest in wellness tourism, guests are increasingly prioritizing rest and relaxation when they travel. To tap into “sleep tourism” demand, hotels and resorts are offering sleep-focused wellness retreats and amenities designed to foster restful sleep. 


Timeshifter has benefited from the broader interest in wellness and rest. “We’re just growing and growing,” Beyer-Clausen said. 


The science behind Timeshifter comes from Harvard Medical School Associate Professor Steven Lockley, who has provided circadian science plans to NASA since 2010. Lockley, Beyer-Clausen and UX designer Jacob Ravn launched the first Timeshifter app in 2018 to bring those NASA-backed plans to everyday people. Since then, the app has partnered with United Airlines, which offers access to MileagePlus loyalty members. 


But while sleep-focused amenities are trendy now, they don’t have a meaningful impact on sleep health when they don’t include circadian rhythm science, Beyer-Clausen added. 


“Most of the advice out there is just incorrect, scientifically,” he said. 


“If your focus is on ‘sleep’ you’ve already failed,” he said. “Sleep is regulated by your circadian clock and therefore, what you need to look at is circadian shifting.” 


The guest experience


Timeshifter’s partnership with InterContinental follows a similar one with Six Senses, another IHG Hotels & Resorts brand. 


Both brands are part of the company’s luxury and lifestyle portfolio. InterContinental, however, recently launched a “reimagined” guest experience designed to better cater to modern luxury travelers — and Timeshifter is part of that. 


Guests staying at InterContinental hotels will have complimentary access to the Timeshifter app. In tandem with this, InterContinental is also debuting a “restorative guest rooms concept” by neuroscience-based designer Isabelle Sjövall and nutritionally rich menu items “to counter the body’s natural response to travel.”


IHG Vice President of Luxury and Lifestyle Brands Tom Rowntree said the Timeshifter partnership “is about putting the right technology in the hands of our guests so they can seamlessly shift through their day-to-day.”


“By harnessing the power of cutting-edge solutions like Timeshifter, we’re not only addressing the common challenges faced by travelers but also redefining the entire guest experience,” Rowntree said in a statement. 


Beyer-Clausen said travel companies were skeptical about Timeshifter when he first approached them about the app, but that IHG took the time to read up on the science and test it before launching their partnership. 


“I’m so incredibly grateful to [IHG],” Beyer-Clausen said. “They took the time to be serious about it and not just think about Timeshifter as a gimmick or campaign that can bring a few more new guests to their properties. They’re looking long term at how can they improve the experience [for guests].”



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