GSS Day 1 Presentations

After our morning keynote, Katherine Johnson, Senior Economist with SRI, presented a research study entitled “Spas & the Global Wellness Market: Synergies and Opportunities”, which was sponsored by Murad Inclusive Health Center.  The top 3 findings of this extensive report were:

  • The global wellness industry is currently valued at almost 2 trillion dollars annually

  • “Wellness” has gone mainstream

  • Spas are already pursuing wellness opportunities and seeing results

Johnson also identified 3 opportunities in the market:

  • The need for treatment-oriented conventional medical services

  • The opportunity to create wellness-oriented spa services

  • The emergence of “workplace wellness” and working with corporations and companies

SRI estimates there are 289 million wellness consumers in 30 wealthiest countries.  Much of what was presented was not necessarily news to those in the room, but it was good to have our instincts statistically corroborated.

Jan Freitag of Smith Travel Research presented his most recent data on the hotel and luxury spa market.  The 3 main takeaways were:

  • The global hotel industry has experienced a slight uptick in occupancy for Q1 2010, over both 2008 and 2009, so hopefully a recovery is underway

  • Salon services have been shoring up results for this segment, both salon utilization and average ticket numbers are up

  • At least in the New York City market, spas are continuing to discount both salon and spa services in the low single digits

The most current hotel and luxury spa information can always be accessed at

The afternoon keynote speaker was Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, author and clinical professor from the US.  His presentation was entitled “Healthy Places: Bridging the Spa World & Integrative Medicine. No surprise, his feeling was that what we have now in the U.S. is a disease management industry, not a healthcare system.  It is projected that in 2010, Fortune 500 companies will spend 75% of their profits on employee healthcare, a position which is unsustainable.  According to Dr. Pelletier, insurance companies are processors, not innovators, and it will be up to private industry and academics to come up with evidence-based reports and data so that we can move into a preventive mode with our healthcare.  Dr. Pelletier and his Corporate Health Improvement Program (CHIP), started in 1985, have performed numerous studies and are busily compiling such data; so far they’ve been able to show corporations that they can receive a 3:1 ROI if they put these programs into place.  Our target should be optimal healthcare throughout our lifetimes, and spas have an important role to play in this.  I encourage you to learn more about Dr. Pelletier’s work and studies, he was very impressive.

We also heard a presentation from Terry Stevens, Managing Director of Stevens & Assoc. in the UK, who discussed current global trends in Wellness Tourism.  When marketing wellness tourism, there is a need to shift from the tangible (museums) to the intangible (image and vibe) in the consumer approach.  For those interested in marketing as a wellness destination, several of the defining components should be:

  • Play to the natural strengths and features of your region (thermal waters, healthy cuisine, specific ingredients)

  • Be inclusive (all shapes, sizes, ages of potential traveler should be considered)

  • Ensure that there is a support mechanism in place (political, systemic, tourism-oriented)

  • Stimulate innovation (encourage your local support system to be creative in the approach)

  • “Be” rather than seem to be (importance of authenticity)

Laszlo Puczko, Senior Association of Xellum, also supported these findings with his research, much of which is available in his book, “Health and Wellness Tourism” which I previously reviewed.

The last presentation I attended today was “New Priorities of Today’s Spa Consumer” from Stephanie Perrone Goldstein, Director of Spa Consumer Research for Coyle Hospitality, and was so full of information I will cover it in a separate blog.


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