Travel advisors are missing out on a major sales opportunity and may well lose business in the future, if they don’t embrace wellness travel. According to new consumer research released at the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), being held this week in Cannes, over 70 percent of consumers said they had taken part in spontaneous wellness activities on their last vacation, and 40 percent said they are interested in booking a wellness-related vacation. What’s more, more than four in 10 wellness travelers are repeat customers in this niche.
Alison Gilmore, portfolio director of ILTM, told delegates that, after family and friends, concierge services are most influential in recommending wellness travel options. However, she said travel advisors were last on the list.
Julian Paccaud, wellness advisor to fashion brand, Chanel, told the audience that as humans live longer, there is more focus on health and wellness. “Our body is not a car we can change out. People need to make sure that they are healthy for longer,” he said. The result is consumers are building wellness into their lives in everything they do, including vacations. Across all segments of wellness, the industry generates more than $7 trillion in sales globally.
Anna Bjurstam, of The Global Wellness Institute, said spending on wellness travel in North America is set to grow from $241 billion currently to $311 billion by 2022. “Since I started in this industry 25 years ago, I was waiting for this day when the industry would wake up and see the opportunity,” she said.
For both hotels and advisors, Bjurstam said, a key reason to focus on the market is revenue opportunities. International wellness tourists spend 53 percent more than average international travelers, while domestic wellness travelers spend 178 percent more than others. She said wellness plays a part in 25 percent of vacation selection, and that number is increasing.
Dan Buettner, of Blue Zones, told hoteliers in the group that, in order for wellness programs to be more than “marketing whitewash,” it’s critical they lead by example and reorient their workplaces to encourage healthy behavior.