One size does not fit all in wellness and medical travel: market segmentation and an understanding of the drivers of wellness tourism will be the way forward according to The Wellness, health and travel 2030: regional and country outlook post-COVID-19 Report. This forward-looking study looks to set out how travel, hospitality, healthcare, spa and wellness businesses might benefit from the growing interest in health, wellness and wellbeing.
The general public, as well as industry and government representatives around the world have now recognised the importance and role of wellbeing in everyday life, but how can the wellness industry capitalise on the opportunities which may have come about as a result of the pandemic?
The research suggests opportunities are defined by the maturity of the local market, as well as the availability of local resources and infrastructure. Going forward, how countries managed the pandemic also looks set to have a direct impact on how attractive those countries will be to medical tourists.
Proliferation of segments
There are a number of key market segments which now represent a growth opportunity for wellness travel, these include groups of friends, families, solo men, and, in certain countries, same sex couples. The proliferation of attractive segments is not a new development, but the fragmentation certainly is.
Women used to represent the majority of the demand for spa, however, now lifestyle changes in Western societies, including the rise of affluent millennials, influence from celebrities and influencers, wider and more accessible provision of spa fitness and wellness spaces and new products and technological advancements have all played their role in changing market demand for wellness.
Operators need to respond to these changes with flexibility in terms of what they provide, as well as where and how they provide it. Similar changes have taken place in the hospitality sector, where properties with links to their neighbourhoods have taken off. This trend represents a major challenge for global brands offering the same products and treatments at every location.
Hotel spas remain popular, but with an evident appetite for eco and adventure wellness, as well as hot spring-based properties, the hospitality sector needs to be ready. They need to be open to alternative property types, since guests now tend to look for clear value propositions and benefits, local flair and atmosphere and less for standardised global brands. This has an impact on the size and location of properties, as well as the activities and services offered.
The study confirmed that popularity of services and property types vary by market segments as well as by countries and regions. For example, direct access to nature is important in the UK and Germany, while those travelling to Costa Rica tend to seek eco and adventure wellness retreats.
Although wellness, as a concept, enjoys global interest, the ways in which it is used in hospitality, healthcare and destination development very much depend on the local circumstances and resources.
For example, in India, Thailand and South Korea traditional medicine is merged with wellness. Italy specialises in food and drink-based treatments; Australia in fitness and better eating and Mexico in spiritual practices.
The research has shown that there are huge disparities across the world when it comes to wellness tourism, with many regions believing its all about the spa experience. We believe every destination and project can have its own identity, as well as a unique experience and benefit proposition.
The long term success of wellness travel and sustainability of communities and destinations requires sector investors to pay closer attention to local market information and forecasts.
Download the report at: www.spabusiness.com/HTWWLife1