By Annie Davidson, Director of Luxury Accounts. Published 1st Quarter 2023 in Luxury Hoteliers Magazine.
Nearly 10 percent of the $4.4 trillion wellness economy is derived from the wellness tourism industry. Is your luxury property getting its share of that revenue?
As part of the recent “INSPIRE 22” event hosted by the International Luxury Hoteliers Association (ILHA), Avendra sponsored a panel discussion to address the topic: “Reinventing Wellness Space to Drive Revenue.” Here’s what our panel of experts had to say.
The panel was hosted by John Moore, Founder of The Spa Expert who was joined by:
- Chris King, Chief Development Officer, Salamander Hotels and Resorts
- Jessica Wadley, Vice President, Oakworks
- Rika Lisslo, Vice President, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
How do you define wellness?
The field of wellness is somewhat broad and quickly evolving, but the panelists agree that it includes the active pursuit of well-being, including a work-life balance. That means everything from the traditional fitness, spa, massage, and beauty categories to newer entries like food and beverage, mental health, and connectedness.
Who is part of the wellness tourism audience?
The millennial generation recently surpassed the baby boomer generation as the largest living demographic in the US with more than 72 million. The millennials and gen z are the largest devotees in wellness and are willing to pay for it. While boomers are certainly still luxury travelers, they are less focused on wellness than the two following generations.
Wellness tourists’ expectations are that they will be able to continue their wellness regimens on the road. They want what they have at home – only better. The wellness tourist spends 30 percent more on their trip as an international guest. Domestically, they will spend 177 percent more when they’re focused on their well-being, according to Jessica Wadley of Oakworks. The lesson for hoteliers is that wellness needs to be at the forefront for their guests.
How do you inspire wellness tourists to choose your property?
Chris King, Chief Development Officer, Salamander Hotels and Resorts, explained the critical role of staff training and messaging in attracting the wellness tourist. “Throughout all our communication, the guest must understand exactly what their options are and be able to dig deeper into those options if they want.”
Wellness offerings need to be readily available and infused throughout your property. Train staff to offer wellness-based solutions to guests during interactions. They should fully understand the dimensions of your wellness program and be able and willing to point a guest to a quiet nook for meditation, the spa for a massage, or the fitness center for a class. Ensuring your staff is well-trained, removes the friction of finding a solution for the wellness tourist. You’ve anticipated their need and provided for it seamlessly. The guest doesn’t need to leave the property to find what they’re looking for, thereby increasing revenue opportunities.
What wellness offerings should be provided?
The more tailored the offerings are to the property’s demographic, the greater the capture rate and revenue will be. Each property attracts a certain audience, therefore build offerings with that audience in mind.
Rika Lisslo, Vice President, Hyatt Hotels Corporation shared how the brand caters to its wellness clients through education opportunities. Miraval staff are highly trained and speak personally with their guests prior to arrival to assess their wellness desires and curate an experience for them. Some guests arrive with the goal of assessing where they are physically and creating a wellness regimen. Others come with an established wellness lifestyle and want to participate in something they already like or to expand their boundaries.
Some up-and-coming trends include an understanding of wellness beyond simply fitness, spa, and beauty. Millennials and gen z are very tuned into holistic well-being. Their view of society includes welcoming neurodiversity. It includes accepting mental health as something that is as important as physical health. It includes food and beverage offerings that aren’t simply “low-calorie” but are responsibly sourced and offer an array of alternatives, like multiple plant-based and gluten-free options, health-conscious additives into smoothies and juices, and elixirs or adaptogen based drinks instead of cocktails. Food that feeds the soul, not just the tastebuds!
“We have opportunities to help guests deepen their wellness experience,” Rika shared.
“I think it really comes down to meeting the guest wherever they are in their wellness travel.”
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