Spa Travel Remains Resilient in Tough Economy

Despite the pressures of a slow economy, travel agents enjoyed a strong year for spa travel bookings in 2007 and remain upbeat about the prospects for spa travel for the remainder of 2008, according to SpaFinder's 2008 State of Spa Travel survey released today.

According to the 2008 study, spa travel bookings in 2007 increased for 57% of surveyed agents and remained steady for an additional 29%, while only 13% reported a decline. For 2008, 58% expect there to be growth in bookings over 2007, while an additional 26% expect bookings to remain steady.

'Spa travel is increasingly a fundamental part of the health and wellness regime for many Americans, young and old--and has evolved significantly from its once narrow association with pampering and the luxury class,' said Susie Ellis, President of SpaFinder. 'While this is helping to keep spa travel strong, the industry has also responded wisely to these challenging times by offering more special deals.'

SpaFinder's 2008 State of Spa Travel survey was conducted with travel professionals in June and July of 2008. The annual study is designed to illuminate unfolding trends in spa travel, including consumer adoption, pricing, demographics, and popular locations and amenities.


Gen X Unseats Baby Boomers as Top Spa Travel Demographic
In a shift from 2007, 51% of agents now report that travelers aged 35-45 express the greatest interest in booking spa travel, versus 41% for the Boomer 46-60 age group. In contrast, last year's study found Boomers were the most interested in spa travel, when 58% of spa travelers fell in the 46-60 age group. So, Ellis noted, while Baby Boomers have traditionally been credited with fueling the spa travel boom, Gen-Xers are emerging as a key demographic, as they seek relief from work-related stress.

'Social Spa-ing' #1 Emerging Spa Trend
Agents reported that social groups (such as friends traveling together), took the top spot among emerging spa travel trends. Tied for the second slot were: An increased interest in travelers seeking wellness/health elements at spas—and people choosing a spa destination for special occasions such as honeymoons, etc.

Industry Offers Deals to Mitigate Tough Economy
Not surprisingly, 70% of agents report that spa resorts are lowering rates and offering more special deals than in years past. And 31% of those surveyed report that spas are either offering 'significantly' or 'historically' more aggressive pricing and deals in 2008.

Spa Access Still #1 Consideration For Travelers
Agents also report that access to a spa/spa facilities ranks #1 (by a significant margin) as the top consideration for their traveling clients, followed by proximity to a beach, sightseeing, shopping, hiking and nature-based activities (in that order)--with skiing and golf taking the last spots.

Wellness Travel on Rise
According to the survey, health and wellness is now one of the most critical considerations for today's spa traveler, with 90% of agents reporting that health/wellness is either 'very' or 'somewhat' important to their vacationing clients.

Spa Facilities/Amenities More Important Than Price or Location

When booking spa travel, agents report that travelers' most important consideration is the spa's facilities and amenities (52%), topping price (27%) or the spa location (22%).

West Coast Remains Most Popular Region For Spa Travel
The survey revealed that the West Coast of the US is still the most popular spa travel destination, followed closely by the Southwest and Mexico.

$250-$299 Per Night Still the Sweet Spot
26% of spa travelers now book in the range of $250-$299 per night, followed by $300-$349 (23%) and $200-$249 (22%). So, in 2008, travelers are actually willing to pay more compared to 2007, when only 18% booked at $300-$349. (NOTE: Destination spas often offer all-inclusive per-night pricing, including meals, lodging, activities, etc.).

More Agents Spreading the Word About Spa Travel
In 2008, 26% of agents are recommending spa travel 'all the time,' up from 19% last year. And 95% now recommend spa travel either 'some' or 'all' of the time.


To learn more about SpaFinder's 2008 State of Spa Travel survey, or to speak with SpaFinder President Susie Ellis about the findings, please contact Betsy Isroelit at 323.960.1360 or [email protected]

The world's largest spa media, marketing and gifting company, SpaFinder, Inc. connects millions of wellness-focused consumers with thousands of spas worldwide. SpaFinder's media properties include the award-winning, SpaFinder Lifestyle Webazine and the worldwide spa directory, Global SpaFinder. Spa Finder Gift Certificates and its new gift division, Spa & Salon Wish, offer spa gift certificates and cards that are redeemable at a combined network of over 5,000+ spas and salons worldwide and are available at thousands of retail outlets. The company's software division innovates new solutions to help spas build and streamline their businesses, including the popular SpaBooker online booking system. SpaFinder Europe and SpaFinder Japan offer regional spa marketing and gifting programs, including localized, native-language websites. Founded in 1986, the privately held company is headquartered in Manhattan.