WTM is always a marathon week. For many, Pro Plus, Red Bull and copious cups of (terrible) coffee are the stalwart of sustainable function – in the name of wellness, there are other options!
A worthy travel sector compatriot;
2014 saw the inaugural inclusion of a Wellness Tourism Programme in the WTM calendar – a tidy and well timed move that was underlined by the attendance at the sessions, the feedback and the resonance of wellness as a sector, never more worthy of sitting alongside Beach, Cruise, City and Business travel – if you need a reminder of the convergence of trends described in last months’ blog, please take a look here.
Seduction and allure;
Total numbers in attendance were around four hundred across the three sessions – ‘What is Wellness Tourism?’ was the stand out panel for attendance, led by Franz Linser, CEO of Linser Hospitality and showcased a lively discussion that illustrated different view perspectives and heard Steve Dunne, Chairman of Brighter Group likening the vast growth to the boom seen in the cruise sector over the last ten years. From mainstream to super luxe, this is perhaps the most inclusive tourism sector. Wellness matters to everyone, no matter your gender, age, class or earnings, the desire to feel better is an aspirational and seductive one and holds great allure in our ever more demanding world.
[blockquote style=”4″]The global wellness tourism economy now stands at $494 billion…[/blockquote]
Start close in – with yourself;Successful communication of wellness travel depends on the consumer demographic – for some a £5000 trip to a dedicated wellness retreat where the focus is 100% health with structure, assessment and around the clock service. For others, a remote cottage beside a lake, bathed in solitude with an open fire is just the ticket and perhaps, with equal result.
So, how do those people selling to clients get it right? They have to know it, whether in person or through copy online. They have to start close in and know for themselves what ‘feeling better’ is all about. That’s when skeptics become converts and when that happens in the travel industry, genuine, shiny eyed agents and operators sell without saying much at all – consumers want sincerity, not lip service.
A sense of inevitability;
Dan Pearce, Managing Director of TTG Media (and blog headline architect) led the second panel that focused on investment in the wellness tourism sector ‘…is it a flash in the pan?’ he asked the panel. Unconditionally not, was the answer. Don Camilleri – Director, Hospitality and Leisure concepts led the charge in the qualified evidence. Center Parcs – now with it’s fifth village open at Woburn Forest and sixth confirmed in Ireland – boasting an average occupancy of 97% across all five villages arguably the most accessible and successful wellness tourism product in the UK. Steve Brown, Leisure Industry Consultant said it differently but simply, ‘there is little choice’, the ability to fund the spiraling costs of chronic illness and declining physical health, increased anxiety, depression and general mental health issues is unfeasible. There is no more public money.
That fact, along with converging consumer trends and qualified research evidence that shows the global wellness tourism economy now stands at $494 billion* (a 12% growth against the previous year) tells us of an inevitability in the need to prevent illness, take a more pro active approach to holistic health and sustain quality of life for longer.
Medical and wellness tourism should not be confused;
The final panel was led by Susie Ellis, Chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, discussing the differences between medical and wellness tourism. Michael Nazzal, Chairman of the Jordan Federation of Tourism talked passionately about the authentic and renowned healing offered at the Dead Sea, alongside the purity and highly oxidized quality of the air – a perfect example of a unique wellness orientated destination. The differences between medical and wellness tourism are acknowledged broadly as being reactive (often requiring invasive procedures) and preventive (a holistic, integrative health approach) respectively and anchor to the primary intention of the traveler.
The first Spafinder Wellness 365 Wellness Travel Awards took place following the final panel and awarded hotels, resorts and retreats that leave guests healthier when they check out, than when they checked in.
Wellness is coming of age and there is a wealth of opportunity;
- Start with yourself and become a natural wellness ambassador. Check in with this writing by David Whyte – you never know what may resonate the most – a great source of inspiration
- Become more aware of the inclusive, indiscriminate proposition that is wellness. It matters to everyone in different ways but most importantly, everyone wants to feel better.
- Nature is a leading wellness trend – what are you offering that captures the natural environment as part of your travel proposal?
- Loneliness is a significant part of what is driving the need for meaningful human connection – what destinations offer the ability to tap in to this sort of community?
* Numbers sourced through the Global Wellness Institute – found in the Global Spa & Wellness Economy Monitor.