Wellness & Hospitality: Frontiers of Today and Tomorrow

By Mia Kyricos Founder and President , Kyricos & Associates, LLC | July 23, 2017

Wellness Tourism is Thriving

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) reported in January of this year that the global wellness economy is now a $3.7 trillion dollar marketplace with wellness tourism representing $563 billion slice of that healthy pie. And given the fact that wellness tourists spend more money than their average counterparts, the economics are quite appealing (see Figure 1.0). The spend varies in considerable degree by purpose of trip; a primary tourist, for example, seeks wellness as the sole purpose of his or her trip whereas a secondary tourist attempts to fit in wellness as part of business or leisure travel. Either way, while wellness trips account for 6.5% of all tourism trips, they represent 15.6% of total tourism expenditures, which certainly indicates a thriving market for wellness-driven hospitality.

Figure 1.0: Courtesy of the Global Wellness Institute Global Wellness Economy Monitor, January 2017

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Consumer demand for all things well is clearly on the rise and spanning industry, geography and demographics. When it comes to travel, most industry analysts agree that millennials are applying the greatest amount of pressure on the hospitality industry. For example, half of millennials base their buying decisions on the quality of a fitness center (inclusive of options for on or offsite exercise) whereas less than a quarter of Baby Boomers do.(3) Yet fitness is far from the only thing influencing buying decisions when it comes to how wellness is manifested at todays hotels, and up until just a few short years ago, hoteliers still considered wellness mostly a facility-based value proposition (read: swimming pools, fitness centers and spas). The world has indeed changed.

TripAdvisor, in one of its recent TripBarometer reports, cited that nearly one third of travelers surveyed were willing to spend more on travel because its important to their health and wellbeing.(4) That is, consumers, independent of their preferences for hotel features, amenities and programs, see a relationship between travel and personal wellbeing. And this insight is indeed timely since consumers are not the only ones thinking differently about the relationship between travel and wellness; the industry has caught-on as well.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.