Wellness & Hospitality: Frontiers of Today and Tomorrow

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

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.

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.  Yet fitness is far from the only thing influencing buying decisions when it comes to how wellness is manifested at today's 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 "it's important to their health and wellbeing."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.

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

Hyatt kicked off 2017 by acquiring health resort brand, Miraval, with a sizeable and timely $212 million dollar investment and millions more being invested to grow the brand globally. Aside from obvious plans to expand the corporation's portfolio of stand-alone spas and destination wellness retreats, Hyatt's CEO, Mark Hoplamazian, has signaled a desire to better serve its corporate clients with more healthful meeting options to complement the ongoing investments that companies are making in the workplace wellness programs that exist within their own offices.

In another interesting move, AccorHotels, upon completion of its merger with Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (FRHI), appointed Fairmont's former "Vice President of Spa & Wellness", Andrew Gibson, to "Vice President of Wellbeing" for its expanded portfolio of Luxury Brands. The broadened role now includes oversight for both programs and facilities that stand to impact consumer wellbeing, spanning the entire hotel experience beyond just fitness and spa. Other brands like Westin and Six Senses have followed similar suit by focusing on areas like food, sleep, lighting and water quality, among newer brands like EVEN Hotels by IHG, purpose-built for a health-conscious, mid-market traveler who cares about wellness on the road.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.