Travelers can incorporate wellness-related activities into a relaxing trip, such as hiking or enjoying a locally-sourced meal. // © 2014 Thinkstock
When people hear the term “wellness tourism,” they might associate it with an intensive spa treatment, a little bit of yoga and a lot of expenses — a luxury available only to a niche community. This is exactly the kind of assumption that the Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC) hopes to debunk.
In a recent roundtable in London, members of the GWTC determined that wellness tourism, as a term, can be off-putting to a wider population. They discussed strategies to make wellness travel more accessible and interesting to a broader audience of consumers.
Following are a few strategies for agents who want to sell this booming and growing niche.
Don’t Lead with “Wellness Tourism”
The new approach begins with altering the language. The GWTC acknowledged that careful attention to word choice is necessary in conversations about wellness tourism. Travel agents should aim to change consumer perception of what holidays can be and encourage clients to rethink their purpose of travel.
Because the term can be obscure and bring to mind stereotypes, it’s helpful to break down its definition. Focus on the core elements of a wellness vacation: relaxation and restoration — as a preventative measure, not a corrective one.
Much like trying to convince a person to do a dietary cleanse or go gluten-free, attempting to convince or “educate” travelers of the health benefits of taking a wellness vacation will likely have adverse effects. The last thing a person wants is to feel lectured or shamed about not already living a healthy enough lifestyle. Instead, travel agents can emphasize the enjoyable, aspirational aspects of wellness travel to make the concept more approachable for consumers.
Make it Mainstream
Travel agents should communicate that this form of travel is more affordable than clients may think. The GWTC identified two key categories of primary and secondary wellness travel: taking a trip solely for wellness purposes and incorporating wellness-related activities into a trip. Travelers can achieve the latter by identifying inexpensive activities they believe will benefit personal wellbeing, whether it’s hiking through a region’s unique terrain or enjoying a locally-sourced meal. This classification widens opportunity for consumers.
Showing clients that wellness tourism can be incorporated into any vacation might help your bottom line. The GWTC’s 2013 “Global Wellness Tourism Economy” report revealed that the industry is already a $439 billion market and is predicted to grow another 50 percent by 2017.
Because the industry is relatively young, however, there’s still room for improvement and growth. Travel agents who implement the above strategies will help determine how wellness tourism continues to grow.
The GWTC plans to hold two additional roundtables in New York City and Washington D.C. in the coming months.