Hosted by the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA), this panel discussion looked at the wellness tourism industry and what it might look like in the future. The session also touched upon what 2,000 surveyed consumers are saying about wellness travel post-COVID and what tourism officials need to know to best manage the "new normal".
László Puczko, CEO/Co-Founder of Health Tourism Worldwide
Danny Kessler, CEO/Managing Partner, Met Group
Terry Stevens, Managing Director, Stevens & Associates
Wellbeing is not about fact. It is about feelings and finding the right balance.
The wellness concept is based on 6 pillars: social, intellectual, emotional, occupational, physical, and spiritual and the industry’s job is to translate these trigger points into services for the guests.
Guests want to know and understand more about wellness and they will look for services, destinations, and offers.
The industry needs to revisit the meaning and services of wellness as guests are likely to expect more than spa facilities to recharge their batteries.
A consumer survey, started in April, to find out what motivates wellness travellers, revealed the following top drivers: movement & fitness, healthy food & diet, meditation & mindfulness, rest & relaxation, learning about wellness, self-care and nature & disconnection.
The survey also showed how generations seek info about wellness tourism differently. Social media is the main source for Gen Z and Millennials, newsletters are popular with Millenials and Gen X and special interest travel agents appeal mostly to Millenials and Gen X.
When asked “As a result of COVID affecting your life, what are some new motivations for going on a wellness holiday?” respondents prioritised social connections, nature, and hygiene.
The full survey will be published on the WTA website in the summer.
The only certainty for DMOs at the moment is uncertainty, therefore now is a time for them to reflect and review.
COVID has accelerated trends that were happening in tourism prior to the pandemic but a new language is now emerging from both DMOs and tourists.
The currency of the “new normal” is trust. Tourists need to know they are being invited and welcome whilst destinations need to trust the tourists visiting their destinations.
DMOs are currently identifying the market they want and will need to attract guests through new types of communication, pushing changes faster and going way beyond marketing through innovative ways of thinking and collaborating.
We are witnessing the emergence of a new model for regional tourism development based on the 5 Rs: Recognition, Relationships, Relevance, Responsibility, and Respect.
Destination management is becoming the most important job in tourism. DMOs need to be the new leaders of change and COVID has seen the emergence of industry leaders such as Slovenia, Sedona (AZ), Greater Palm Springs, and the Isles of Arran (Scotland) to name but a few.
The wellness industry is moving from the science of tourism development based on traditional business models and formulas towards the art of tourism development based more on intuition and not-for-profit objectives.
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