How to take your piece of the wellness and wellbeing travel pie

Wellness and wellbeing. Sounds like a hippie trip to the mountains or something similar, right? If you think that is what the wellness and wellbeing industry is all about, oh how wrong you are. Here I will attempt to summarise and explore everything that the wellness travel industry holds in potential, and why you, as a hotelier, should capitalise on it and more importantly, how.

Just a hippie getaway?

The wellness and wellbeing industry according to the Global Wellness Institute had a net worth of $563.2 billion dollars in 2015 up from $494.1 billion in 2014 (14% rise), yet it still only holds 6.9% of the total wellness industry. Fast forward to 2018, and the wellness and wellbeing travel industry is only getting bigger and more popular.

As more and more people are turning to better themselves and their health, we need to start to understand who, what, where, why and how, we, as responsible, ever adapting travel and hotel industry professionals, we can maximise our ‘piece of the pie’, and a big pie at that.

With a total worth of $3.17 trillion dollars, the wellness industry is well worth getting involved in. There are a multitude of choices and ways in which you can get involved and start to attract wellness travelers. The wellness travel industry is broken down into four parts:

  • International wellness tourism receipts: All receipts earned by a country from inbound wellness tourists, with an overnight stay
  • Domestic wellness tourism expenditures: All expenditures in a country made by wellness tourists who are traveling within their own country of residence, with an overnight stay
  • Primary wellness tourists: Where wellness is the sole purpose or motivating factor for the trip or destination choice. These tourists account for 13% of wellness tourism trips and 16% of expenditures
  • Secondary wellness tourists: Seek to maintain their wellness or participate in wellness experiences while taking any kind of trip. Accounts for the significant majority of wellness tourism trips (87%) and expenditures (84%)

Which one do I target and how?

Which of the four divisions of the wellness travel industry do you want to target? Which one suits you and your hotel and location the most? These are questions you should be asking yourself. However, unless you intend on a complete refurbish and refocus of your hotel, I would hazard a guess that you fit into two of the four divisions. Domestic wellness tourism is, of course, an obvious one. People in just about every country in the world are constantly on the lookout for quick getaways – somewhere they can escape the daily routine, relax and unwind.


The other, and the most open opportunity, is the biggest slice of the industry – secondary wellness tourists. This is your cue. There are many easy things that you can do to make your place seem more attractive to wellness travelers and make your hotel attractive to 69% of the wellness industry.

Spa treatments

Spa treatments are the oldest and most well known of all the wellness options available. Of course, we can’t all employ a full-time beautician to be at the beck and call of our guests. There are, however, options available if you just think a little further outside the box. There are a huge number of independent therapists that travel to people’s homes for instance. Contact them and talk to them about collaboration options. You can make a particular room available to them and your guests can book treatments with them in your hotel.

Alternatively, you could empty a room in the hotel and allow a local beautician to ‘set up shop’ in your hotel permanently. You can charge the beautician a set ‘rental’ amount each month for the space and have a discounted rate for all your guests as part of the deal. Not only will this bring wellness travelers your way, but it will also create a local buzz and get locals in your hotel for treatments and talking about your hotel with their friends and social media alike.

Install a hot tub

This might sound extravagant and expensive, but you would be surprised. There are a many companies that are both supplying and installing hot tubs these days. Hot tubs are one of the most sought after and searched for extras in the hospitality industry, so it can be a very good investment.

An installation of a hydropool instantly makes your accommodation appealing to wellness travelers. For a small investment usually ranging between 6K and 20K you can turn your hotel from just another hotel, into a go-to location and stand out from the rest. Once you have installed the hydropool you can legitimately call yourself a wellness hotel and advertise yourself as such on your website, on OTAs and, of course, through social media. Then all you have to worry about is keeping the staff and yourself out of it to give your guests a chance to enjoy it too.

A whole host of options

Within the wellness bracket, there are a lot of options to offer to potential customers. From acupuncture and massage to music therapy, Tai Chi and yoga. All of these activities and treatments can be offered by you in the same way that spa treatments can be. Google local classes and practitioners and call them and discuss options. If you can offer these things to potential guests then you are immediately putting yourself up the ranks and joining the big chain brands at the top. All sorts of deals are possible – it just takes some research and a few phone calls or messages to get the ball rolling. Coupled with advertising in the right way and in the right places, you will be well on your way to being established as a wellness holiday destination and the local place to be.

What is the point?

You may be reading this thinking that I am completely crazy. Telling you to spend 10K on a hot tub, invite randoms to your hotel to give treatments and have yoga classes going on in your garden or restaurant area. Why on earth would you want to spend money like that, or invite people in to profit from your guests? The easy answer is survival. If you want your hotel to remain at high capacity and you don’t want to see your revenue collapse and hotel business turn to dust, then invest. Even if it is only a lick of paint or getting a professional in so you can offer your guests some special extras that they can’t find anywhere else. Reflecting on your business and how you can improve it is the one thing that all of us should be doing on a weekly basis if not daily. Otherwise, you will find yourself left behind and your business will be too.

About the author

Steve-SydenhamSteve Sydenham started working in the Hospitality industry over 20 years ago. He has developed extensive knowledge of marketing, sales, PR, management, business development and revenue management. He now writes for the travel and hospitality industry working for in order to share his unique knowledge and experience.

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