Despite financial concerns, half of consumers plan to maintain or increase spending on leisure travel in the coming months, regardless of income level, according to a recent Accenture study.
Some are looking not just to get away, but also to focus on wellness: Among high-income consumers, 39% say they already have a luxury trip or wellness retreat booked through early 2023. Among millennials, 21% says he has booked a wellness retreat for the same time period, the report shows.
Accenture’s survey of more than 11,000 consumers in 16 countries finds that health and wellness are considered “essential”, with 33% saying they are more focused on personal care than a year ago.
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As consumers reframe their mindsets, “here is a huge opportunity for consumer-facing and travel companies to leverage ecosystem partnerships and local communities to deliver differentiated experiences,” says Emily Weiss, senior executive director at Accenture who leads its travel industry. practice globally.
She says that personal wellness has become “less of an indulgence and more of a non-negotiable essential for today’s consumers, even at a time when many feel financial pressures.”
According to Weiss, wellness travel today is “an extension of the traveler’s values and lifestyle.”
With wellness tourism projected to grow an average of 21% annually through 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, travel startups and properties are ramping up services to accommodate wellness-focused consumers.
At Vacayou, a website that links travelers to wellness getaways and active vacations, organic traffic is up 300% from the previous year, says founder and CEO Muirgheal Montecalvo. Website traffic has been on the rise since January for mental health breakouts in particular.
“People are starting to travel again and are looking for healthier ways to travel,” says Montecalvo. “They are really starting to invest more in their personal care and health. I think that is reflected in the trips.”
Montecalvo created Vacayou in late 2019, but the site only launched in June 2021 due to the pandemic. Vacayou says it will launch a booking engine in October.
According to Montecalvo, wellness trips mean different things to different people: Some consider it hiking and biking; others see it as a spa weekend or yoga retreat. Many seek to “get outdoors into national parks,” she says. “They want the vacation outdoors.”
Before the pandemic, she had to correct the misconception that wellness travel meant weight loss travel. COVID-19 “helped bring wellness and the importance of taking a healthier vacation to the fore,” she says. People “began to be more physically active, they took better care of themselves.”
But as interest in wellness grows, Montecalvo warns against “wellness laundering” in the hospitality industry.
People are starting to travel again and looking for healthier ways to do so.
Montecalvo White Fish – Vacayou
“Throwing a yoga class in a hotel doesn’t make you a wellness hotel,” she says. “It is very important for us that we examine the resorts [to ascertain] which really are wellness properties.
“I am not going to mention any hotel chain. But there are some who said they were a welfare chain, and in reality they are not.
Health and wellness concerns are spreading even to airport layovers.
People are looking for “a positive distraction” for the three or four hours they spend waiting for a flight, says Sanctifly founder and CEO Karl Llewellyn.
Founded in 2016, Sanctifly is a membership app that directs business and leisure travelers to “anything that’s good for you within five miles of any international airport,” including gyms, pools, and spa facilities. 60% of Sanctifly clients are companies that buy a membership for their employees and 40% are individuals.
August and September 2022 have been Sanctifly’s busiest months, up 500% from last year and up 150% from 2019, says Llewellyn.
“Our attitude toward travel is shifting away from beers and hamburgers at the airport, to ‘I’m going to take better care of myself in my downtime at the airport,’” he says. Before the pandemic, Llewellyn says, 60% of people chose to hang out in the airport lounge, compared to just 35% now.
The Sanctifly app asks: Where are you going? How long will you be there? And what do you want to do? The user chooses one of six “moods”: relax, replenish, energize, wellness, fitness/gym, or sanctuary.
The sanctuary category was born out of the pandemic.
“People started asking us, ‘Where can I go to have space, because I don’t want to be in a crowded space?'” The app tells you where you can “drop off your luggage, go for a run, come back, go take a shower, all at the airport.”
The United States is Sanctifly’s busiest market globally, which Llewellyn attributes in part to flight delays.
“Travel disruption is our bread and butter,” he says. “If you have six hours in an airport, we are the ideal product for you. Nothing else will tell you what to do with six hours at LAX, JFK, Atlanta.
“We thought of it as a mindset shift to, ‘I have a six-hour layover. Excellent! I’m going to make the most of my six hours in New York or wherever.’”
As soon as COVID travel restrictions were lifted, “travelers were eager to immerse themselves in positive, healthy and enriching experiences,” says Diana Stobo, founder and owner of The Retreat Costa Rica. “We saw many guests book our more results-oriented programs. [focused on fitness and healing]she says, a trend that other properties have also taken notice of.
We have also witnessed a dynamic shift towards family trips to the Maldives instead of just honeymoons that symbolized the destination in the past.
Sonu Shivdasani – Soneva
The Retreat Costa Rica has seen an increase in bookings among women ages 28-35, as well as an increase in bookings from male guests. Stobo says that the majority of bookings for the property are made directly through the website, with word of mouth and organic searches playing a big role in the growth.
“During the pandemic, we all started looking at the quality of our lives and evaluating our various lifestyles,” says Stobo. “Many of us realized the benefits of self-care and living a healthier lifestyle.”
With the pandemic, Stobo has also seen a growing demand for contactless options like reiki and meditation, he says.
“From our perspective, we are happily on our way to growing our brand, awareness and business. However, with the current economic climate, we step forward with eyes wide open and continue to flex as needed.”
Sonu Shivdasani, co-founder and CEO of Soneva, says that Soneva Soul, the company’s expansive wellness concept that offers an “evolution of lifestyle,” has been “very well received since its launch in late 2021, and that reinforces our belief that guests are uniquely prioritizing personal wellness like never before.”
The pandemic gave many people a chance to pause and rethink their values and priorities, says Shivdasani.
In addition to programs focused on exercise, rest, relationships and good nutrition, Soneva Soul also offers guests the chance to meet “expert international doctors and healers.” [with] the latest innovative treatments and equipment.”
Shivdasani says that the Maldives had very few travel restrictions during the pandemic, so Soneva Soul was able to host a large number of international guests in the last two years. The growth of short-distance markets, such as India, has been exponential.
“We have also witnessed a dynamic shift towards family trips to the Maldives instead of just honeymoons that symbolized the destination in the past,” says Shivdasani.
“Getting together with family and friends has also become very popular, and we are already seeing this trend emerging at our resorts through an increase in multi-generational travelers coming to stay at Soneva.”
Palmaïa, The House of AïA, a luxury wellness resort in Mexico that opened in 2019, has also seen more families travel for a wellness getaway, says Kelly Whitehead, senior wellness manager for Palmaia, USA. East.
The Mexican resort is seeing particularly strong demand from vegetarian and vegan guests who are drawn to the plant-based “dining experience,” as well as from families looking to enroll their children in Palmaïa’s children’s wellness program.
To accommodate the needs of travelers and their families, “technology is helping to personalize and curate the overall guest experience,” says Whitehead.