Now that the world is in a post-pandemic era, people everywhere have had the chance to take a few deep breaths. And while doing so, many have made a renewed commitment to their physical and mental well-being - a trend that is also evident in the travel industry.
The wellness travel niche is a market segment that Denise L. Wiggins understands and successfully sells. She is the global executive advisor and CEO at Denise Wiggins Travel & Health Services, and happens to be a health and wellness coach.
Wiggins has this to say about the current state of wellness travel in the cruise sector, in particular: “Based on my recent cruises and even my upcoming ones, I'm so pleased to see the cruise lines putting wellness front and center. The emphasis on the well-being of their guests is refreshing. They have dedicated time, resources, and finances toward re-outfitting and curating their cruises to represent within this space.”
While cruise brands are focusing on expanding their wellness strategies and offerings, travel advisors can use these seven tips to help their clients enhance their well-being while on a cruise vacation, both onboard and in destination.
1. Listen carefully to understand what ‘wellness’ means for each client.
Wiggins’ first piece of advice is to “truly understand what wellness encompasses and know it is a state of mind for those in the health and wellness space … that it is more than spa and exercise rooms onboard. Listen carefully to what your wellness clients seek. And definitely know which products are hitting the mark to meet a client's needs and expectations.”
Tisha Spencer, an InteleTravel advisor and owner of Platinum Life Travels, seconds this. She notes that the most important thing for travel advisors to keep in mind when recommending wellness-related travel to clients is “understanding that everyone will categorize wellness differently. It will not all be spa, meditation, and physical fitness. We have to spend some time getting to know what our clients desire when they want a wellness cruise.” Spencer’s agency, for instance, is currently working on a cruise focused on women’s wellness that includes self-esteem, make-up classes, and more.
Along the same lines, Darryl Jenkins, owner of Boxley Enterprise Travel, an InteleTravel affiliate, suggests: “I would say [the most important thing is] finding out what things the client is already doing as part of a regular routine so that you can find the best travel offering to match them up with. You want to make sure that they can maintain their existing plan and not feel guilty about taking a trip that doesn't allow them to stay on that plan they are committed to.”
2. Know that mental wellness is as important as physical wellness.
“I am seeing more clients looking to ‘escape’ from the world with friends and loved ones due to stress,” says Spencer. “Mental wellness has become important, as most of my clients are fatigued from dealing with life, the economy, and more. They want to disconnect and have someone cater to their needs.”
And this is how she addresses it with clients: “I often suggest that clients think about what type of wellness they need and enjoy. Not all clients see ‘wellness’ as the spa and physical fitness. It has become mental, too. Now the spas on cruises do offer some amazing relaxation opportunities, but for some, it is about disconnecting from the world and being in the moment. I suggest that we look through the activities on the ships, the spa offerings, the sporting activities available, and even the dining options we can recommend for them to enjoy. I encourage clients to enjoy the views from the balcony and to be in the moment to clear their mind.”
3. Suggest balcony staterooms for the fresh air and quiet.
“I often find many clients enjoy booking balcony staterooms so they can enjoy the quiet time reading and breathing in the fresh air from the ocean,” says Jenkins. “This, too, is a really great way to relieve stress as you are sailing away and possibly reading a book. Wellness does not always have to be about the physical, as you sometimes need to mentally decompress and get the mind right to align with the body.”
4. Describe the expanded fitness and spa services available onboard.
“Many of the cruise lines offer similar wellness services to hotels/resorts,” says Jenkins. “They have a number of things to offer, like fitness and yoga classes for all age groups, meditation stations, spa services with amenities like hot stone massages, detox wraps, sauna services, and much more. Some offer spa suite staterooms that have decor and aromatic fragrances that relax the guest while onboard.”
5. Emphasize the fresh, healthy eating options, taken in moderation.
For years, cruises were all about the big buffets and endless culinary offerings, and many guests simply overate while onboard. But that is an outdated approach to cruising. Travelers today need not feel pressured to eat copious quantities at every meal.
“People used to complain that they ate too much, and had to lose weight when they returned. But I really don’t hear that anymore. It’s actually quite the opposite, as they now tell me about the great fresh food as well as all the ‘steps’ they did,” says Neelie Kruse, CTC, VTA, owner and travel designer, at Cary Travel Express. When selling cruises, Kruse emphasizes the fresh, healthy food options.
Similarly, Jenkins mentions that cruisers “can also treat their wellness through food options onboard as well as at the fitness centers and spa services. Some cruise lines now offer smoothies or smoothie stations … There are even healthy food options, vegan, and gluten-free options.”
6. Tell clients not to try to do it all when it comes to excursions.
Travel advisors can also provide guidance to help clients maximize their well-being in destination. As Spencer explains: “I help clients find just enough activities that they can enjoy, without overwhelming them. It is important to look at the excursions early, to secure the top ones, but also to be aware of the fact that if they are in a destination they have been to before, it is a prime time to enjoy the spa and pool areas, as most of the ship will be empty. The biggest thing is to not try to do it all. We can book the sailing or ship again.”
7. Position wellness on cruises as satisfying rather than a sacrifice.
Kruse suggests: “You really have to sell it properly, as some people don’t want to feel they are going to a ‘wellness spa’-type of place where everything is all about no drinking, little and bland food, etc. Explain that they can take their dream trip, but still do it in a healthy way without missing anything … and come back feeling refreshed and renewed, instead of stuffed and tired!”
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