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Wellness Tourism Tops $436B. Are You Optimizing Profitability?

By Annie Davidson, Director, Luxury Account Management for Avendra, LLC
16 February 2023
6 min read
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Nearly 10 percent of the $4.4 trillion wellness economy is derived from the wellness tourism industry. Is your luxury property getting its share of that revenue?

As part of the recent “INSPIRE 22” event hosted by the International Luxury Hoteliers Association (ILHA), Avendra sponsored a panel discussion to address the topic: “Reinventing Wellness Space to Drive Revenue.” Here’s what our panel of experts had to say.

The panel was hosted by John Moore, Founder of The Spa Expert who was joined by:

  • Chris King, Chief Development Officer, Salamander Hotels and Resorts
  • Jessica Wadley, Vice President, Oakworks
  • Rika Lisslo, Vice President, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

How do you define wellness?

The field of wellness is somewhat broad and quickly evolving, but the panelists agree that it includes the active pursuit of well-being, including a work-life balance. That means everything from the traditional fitness, spa, massage, and beauty categories to newer entries like food and beverage, mental health, and connectedness.

Who is part of the wellness tourism audience?

The millennial generation recently surpassed the baby boomer generation as the largest living demographic in the US with more than 72 million. The millennials and gen z are the largest devotees in wellness and are willing to pay for it. While boomers are certainly still luxury travelers, they are less focused on wellness than the two following generations.

Wellness tourists’ expectations are that they will be able to continue their wellness regimens on the road. They want what they have at home – only better. The wellness tourist spends 30 percent more on their trip as an international guest. Domestically, they will spend 177 percent more when they’re focused on their well-being, according to Jessica Wadley of Oakworks. The lesson for hoteliers is that wellness needs to be at the forefront for their guests.

How do you inspire wellness tourists to choose your property?

Chris King, Chief Development Officer, Salamander Hotels and Resorts, explained the critical role of staff training and messaging in attracting the wellness tourist. “Throughout all our communication, the guest must understand exactly what their options are and be able to dig deeper into those options if they want.”

Wellness offerings need to be readily available and infused throughout your property. Train staff to offer wellness-based solutions to guests during interactions. They should fully understand the dimensions of your wellness program and be able and willing to point a guest to a quiet nook for meditation, the spa for a massage, or the fitness center for a class. Ensuring your staff is well-trained, removes the friction of finding a solution for the wellness tourist. You’ve anticipated their need and provided for it seamlessly. The guest doesn’t need to leave the property to find what they’re looking for, thereby increasing revenue opportunities. 

What wellness offerings should be provided?

The more tailored the offerings are to the property’s demographic, the greater the capture rate and revenue will be. Each property attracts a certain audience, therefore build offerings with that audience in mind.

Rika Lisslo, Vice President, Hyatt Hotels Corporation shared how the brand caters to its wellness clients through education opportunities. Miraval staff are highly trained and speak personally with their guests prior to arrival to assess their wellness desires and curate an experience for them. Some guests arrive with the goal of assessing where they are physically and creating a wellness regimen. Others come with an established wellness lifestyle and want to participate in something they already like or to expand their boundaries.

Some up-and-coming trends include an understanding of wellness beyond simply fitness, spa, and beauty. Millennials and gen z are very tuned into holistic well-being. Their view of society includes welcoming neurodiversity. It includes accepting mental health as something that is as important as physical health. It includes food and beverage offerings that aren’t simply “low-calorie” but are responsibly sourced and offer an array of alternatives, like multiple plant-based and gluten-free options, health-conscious additives into smoothies and juices, and elixirs or adaptogen based drinks instead of cocktails. Food that feeds the soul, not just the tastebuds!

“We have opportunities to help guests deepen their wellness experience,” Rika shared. 

“I think it really comes down to meeting the guest wherever they are in their wellness travel.” 

Final Thoughts

Avendra has helped our luxury clients source trending and healthy food and beverage items that keep guests on their property rather than searching elsewhere for things like plant-based menu options, beverages with adaptogens, and healthy ‘grab and go’ snacks.

We also ensure that our luxury property clients have the in-room wellness amenities they’re seeking. From yoga mats and resistance bands to accessing online and on-demand fitness in their room, guests can maintain their wellness routines.

Some trends for you to consider for your property:

  • Virtual Personal Training Solution that includes professional strength and conditioning, stretching workouts, multiple styles of classes
  • Medi-spa options
  • In-room fitness options from stationary equipment to yoga mats, and digital technology that allows access to at home routines or new instructors on your system
  • App based solutions that allow guests to easily find local running clubs or walking trails
  • Sound baths, quiet spaces for meditation, and small group gathering options
  • Sleeping technology: blinds, sound systems, mattresses, air filtration
  • Mind calming additions: lavender scented pillow spray, relaxation teas 

Avendra’s sourcing specialists help you meet guests’ expectations for wellness offerings, while making data-driven spending decisions to boost your bottom line. Wellness travelers are willing to pay a premium for these amenities but are well-informed in this area. Finally, make sure what you are offering is highly professional and rooted in good science and practice. 

About the author

Annie Davidson, Director, Luxury Account Management

In her role as Account Director, Annie Davidson leverages her extensive experience in procurement operations and process improvement to serve Avendra’s luxury and lifestyle clients. With more than 20 years of proven experience in hotel operations, corporate procurement, multi-brand growth & supply chain strategy, Annie helps guide and assists her clients with strategic vision, growth, savings, and sustainability insights.