The International Spa Association’s (ISPA) 2017 U.S. Spa Industry Study indicates that “wellness” continues to top the list of current spa trends.
Quoting from the Study’s Executive Summary: "Wellness/health/fitness remained, by far, the most frequently cited trend affecting the spa industry, and was mentioned by almost one in three spas (32 percent), including 42 percent of respondents in the resort/hotel sector and 25 percent of day spas."
ISPA President Lynne McKnees said, “members of the International SPA Association report a focus on well-being also continues to trend globally.” She added, “The number one reason we are seeing an unprecedented growth in spa visits is stress management, which has led to the proliferation of technology and results-driven experiences in spas around the world.”
Other trends include the continuing interest in organic/natural products, identified by one in eight spas (12 percent) and often linked to themes around sustainability and local sourcing. A little over one in 10 spas (11 percent) saw an increase in the use of alternative treatments and therapies. Also mentioned were customization and personalization of spa services to the individual needs of clients and an increased emphasis on events, gatherings and group bookings – often referred to today as “the social spa.”
Suppliers identify emerging micro trends
Individual spa brands are confirming some of these findings plus seeing their own micro trends:
At Bangkok-based Six Senses, Vice President Anna Bjurstam said, “the spa marketplace has developed and changed quite a bit and the main trend we see today is around brain health.” She noted that this is not simply about mindfulness, “it is about the ways to build up the brain cells using a variety of treatments, supplements (known as Nootropics) and coaching in conjunction with mindfulness to enhance brain performance. “
Founder and CEO of GOCO Hospitality Ingo Schweder commented: “nutritional and overall lifestyle advice is becoming a more common part of the services provided by spas these days. We see many spa guests keenly looking for treatments that utilize purely natural and organic ingredients." He explained that the local sourcing of ingredients for spa treatments is another emerging trend, “sometimes referred to as ‘farm to massage table’ treatments.”
At Canyon Ranch, Chief Operating Officer Thomas Klein said, “we are seeing a high demand from our guests embracing our integrative philosophy of 'living younger longer.'” In response to this growing “anti-aging” movement, Klein says that CR Aesthetics — a curated selection of advanced, non-surgical facial treatments and procedures available via Canyon at Sea since 2016 and combined with pre- and/or post- care treatment — will soon be available at Canyon Ranch properties in Tucson, Ariz., and Lenox, Mass. He added, “for the first time in the company’s nearly 40-year history, the opening of this designated CR Aesthetics space will also allow the company to welcome day-visitors for these services.”
Erin Stremcha, director of marketing for Arizona-based Trilogy Spa Holdings, said, “with the rising trend in technology-based body scanning and diagnostics, we are seeing hotels and spas partner with top tech brands to elevate the guest wellness experience." Well & Being, for instance, has partnered with BodPod, which is used by many professional sports teams, to give guests an accurate body composition analysis. Stremcha said, as part of their WellFIT program, they use the BodPod in conjunction with oxygen consumption and resting metabolic rate assessments to provide recommendations for meal planning and workouts.
What we are hearing from travel advisors such as Jack Ezon, president of New York-based Ovation Vacations is that many of his clients looking for spa experiences have been exploring European clinical based programs. He said, “European spas take a more of a clinical approach with on-staff medical professionals, and use procedures to detox such as colon cleanses and electro-magnetic cellulite reduction.”
Valerie Wilson Travel, also of New York, recently organized an educational Spa/Wellness Fair for travel advisors, with several suppliers in attendance. Co-president Kimberly Wilson Wetty commented, “there were many spa trends discussed but the most important seem to be clients wanting digital detox; a rising interest in meditation and mindfulness as part of the spa experience; and an increasing focus on food and nutrition.”
Increasing use of technology for promotion and booking
The ISPA U.S. Spa study also saw more respondents citing technology-related trends such as the incorporation of online booking options, and increasing use of social media and online promotion and marketing. When asked about plans for the coming year, almost all respondents (95 percent) indicated they expected to add or create a range of enhancements to their businesses. Most frequently, respondents said they planned to expand the range of choices available to their clients.
The ISPA 2017 U.S. Spa Industry Study was commissioned by the International Spa Association Foundation, undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and presents a picture of the spa industry in 2016.