Wellbeing services and experiences are no longer in a silo. Whether we consider the rise in populism, the impact of Brexit, geopolitics, technology or the environment, the idea of “business as usual” is a thing of the past. We face continuous change and this includes the opportunities offered by the wellbeing sector.
It’s important not to be distracted or put off by the terms “wellness” or “wellbeing” – they don’t begin and end with a spa, gym or health retreat.
Wellbeing is linked to an increasing need for people to feel better. An agent is a traveller’s navigation system to help find their antidote to stress and exhaustion – and their knowledge of wellbeing can help to make connections for clients that they may not be thinking of themselves.
Nature, adventure, digital detoxing, walking, meditation, sleeping well, eating fresh and natural food – all these things are increasingly sought after by consumers who want the fast track to relaxation, a sense of purpose, meaning and lifestyle change.
Of course, if clients want an immersive programme for a physical detox or diagnosticassessment, agents need to send them to a spa or dedicated wellbeing practitioner.
Another opportunity lies in the agent’s knowledge and ability to think more widely to match the client’s needs. For example, combining nature with adventure and a digital detox is an increasingly popular option that is not retreat or spa specific.
There is a good deal of research supporting the health benefits of pursuits such as cycling, walking, digital detox and sleep, and it helps to demonstrate how indisputable the wellness trend
has become – then add to that the huge investment and spotlight on mental health in the UK, the
impact of social media and the smartphone on teenagers’ mental health.
Jean Twenge, a researcher of generational differences for 25 years, has found that the iGen (the generation after millennials, or GenZ) is on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades.
His study and similar research highlight the demand for and potential revenue within the wellbeing travel sector, where escapism and “turning off” is top of the agenda for the whole family.
Hotel brand Marriott is stepping into the wellness market with a new series of Transform with Marriott workshops – they’re open to guests and the public in their London properties during September and October.
Agents should watch out for similar events in properties to inform their clients about them, or even attend themselves.
They should also note the rising trend of consumers being drawn to people (leading practitioners such as yogis, life coaches, mindfulness experts), rather than branded locations, and shine a light on their expert knowledge.
Spa guides write increasingly about visiting “masters” and practitioners rather than the location or brand.
Hotel brands such as Six Senses, Kamalaya and Anantara publish a regular calendar of visiting and master practitioners, which could prove useful to agents looking to highlight a hotel’s portfolio of wellness experts.
1. What is your client looking for? How can you connect that with the portfolio you’re selling?
2. Become an “experience tailor”, sewing together and personalising the bespoke elements that appeal to clients.
3. Safety is also wellbeing, so make sure you know how seriously your suppliers take this.
4. Know wellbeing. People want to “feel better” – whether they want the best sleep in the world or an adrenalin-pumped adventure. Don’t limit wellbeing to spa only.
5. Stay informed and agile – you need to be a step ahead of the client. Breed their trust through knowledge.