Age Matters: Different Ages Have Different Preferences In Wellness Travel
by Anne Dimon
Age Matters: Different Ages Have Different Preferences In Wellness Travel

Outdoor adventures and fitness/yoga classes matter more to Millennials and Gen Xers than they do to Baby Boomers, says a new study of 200+ travel agents in North America and Europe.

In Part 2 of SpaFinders’ State of Wellness Travel Report, released today, travel agents ranked the importance of 16 wellness elements—from healthy food, to fitness classes, to hot springs and spiritual healing—for Millennials and Gen Xers (49 and under) and for Baby Boomers (50+).

Defining “wellness travel” as “travel associated with the goal of enhancing one’s personal wellbeing,” the report looked at 16 components of wellness travel:

  • Beach access                           
  • Pools & swimming
  • Outdoor adventure programs
  • Access to nature/scenic outdoors
  • Fitness/yoga facilities & classes
  • Healthy cuisine/specialty diets
  • Environmentally friendly property
  • Doing good for the community/voluntourism
  • Traditional sports like golf or tennis
  • Hot or mineral springs
  • Weight-loss programs
  • Spiritual healing
  • Alternative medical services
  • Detox programs
  • Healthy sleep programs
  • Traditional medical services

The three most significant findings are:  

1. Every age group rated all 16 components as “important,” but having the full range of wellness components matters more to younger travelers than to Boomers.

2. The wellness components that stand out as significantly more important for younger travelers are: outdoor adventure programs, environmentally-friendly properties, and properties that “do good” for the local community or have voluntourism programs.

3. The travel agents weighed in on what types of properties are most desired by their wellness-travel clients. For the Baby Boomer (and older) crowd, luxury spa resorts ranked highest; sand and sea destinations were the first choice for their younger cohorts.

4. All groups chose access to beaches and pools as the top two requirements. Healthy cuisine ranked third for Boomers but sixth for younger travelers.

In other findings, women continue to dominate the niche. According to the survey, women traveling together and solo remain a critical market. Survey results support that destinations need to pay as much attention to women traveling together and solo as they do to couples.

Trends to watch in 2016, meanwhile, are:

1. More people traveling as groups (friends, etc.) and for special occasions.

2. More “non-spa-focused” wellness travel—more travel to adventure, fitness, yoga and eco-focused destinations.

3. Solo wellness travelers.

4. More travelers under 40.

And when it comes to men, the survey found, words matter. Two-thirds of agents agreed that for male customers, “wellness travel” sounds more appealing than “spa travel.”

“The survey shines light on what’s ascending for the next generation in wellness travel,” said John Bevan, COO of Spafinder Wellness Inc. “The landscape is expanding, more complex, and less one-size-fits-all than ever.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

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