Strategy: Rise of Wellness in Travel and Tourism


TL;DR: Wellness isn’t just a trend. It’s becoming a bigger part of the everyday consumer’s lifestyle and is making its way into the travel industry. Now, destinations have to find a way to incorporate wellness meaningfully and communicate what they have to offer to travelers.

Wellness has many dimensions – physical, mental, holistic; something different to everyone. Regardless of how wellness takes root in your life, it’s becoming more of a focus in society overall. The tourism industry has taken note as vacationers and tourists pursue adventurous maintenance and enhancement of their personal wellbeing. The practice of wellness has become an integral aspect of the travel experience.

Wellness in Travel

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing personal wellbeing. At Sparkloft, we see travel as an integral part of that experience as traveling tends to make us all happier, more refreshed and less stressed. 

While not all travelers seek trips solely centered around wellness, which may include immersive yoga retreats or digital detox experiences; everyday travelers are looking to ensure they’re able to maintain a lifestyle of wellness while traveling. Where workplace wellness used to be the industry’s main focus, we’re seeing an awareness shift of wellness during travel.

The Stats

While its growth has been slow and steady over the last decade, we’ve seen rapid growth in wellness and tourism in the last year. The Global Wellness Institute sites over 830 million wellness trips took place in 2017, compared to the 691 million trips taken in 2015.

With the industry growing almost seven percent each year, destinations and their DMOs/CVBs should spend time thinking, strategically, about the ways they can incorporate wellness into their destinations overall experience and their marketing strategies. 

Skift saw the wellness and tourism trend coming a few months ago and took the time to create a wellness vertical as well as include wellness travel in marketing as a part of their 2019 Skift Megatrends Report. Skift says it best:

There’s no denying that wellness is having a moment— from the organic and farm-to-table food movements to the rise of clean and natural beauty products to, you guessed it, travel.
— Skift

Positively for the destination, wellness tourism creates incentives to protect the environment, culture and heritage of a destination, according to the Global Wellness Institute. And, if you’re still not convinced, wellness tourists spend 50-180% more for trips than the average tourist.

How Destinations Can Market Wellness

While tourism often tends to draw people to a specific city, attraction or destination and can cause overcrowding in some situations, wellness, as Skift outlines, can be a unique way for destinations to help draw travelers out to smaller cities to experience secluded yoga retreats, mindfulness excursions and more.

Many destinations and brands in the tourism industry are already well on their way to making wellness a priority for travelers. There are many traditional wellness cities around the world, places like Sedona, Arizona, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, California, offer dozens of experiences that help someone focus their vacation on wellness. But even cities that aren’t known for their relaxation-filled getaways have an opportunity to join the wellness travel conversation. 

Many travelers might not be looking for a trip that’s 100-percent focused on wellness, but rather, want to know that they can keep up with their workout regimen or meditation routine while they’re on the road.

Hotel + Wellness Brand Partnerships

Many hotels and resorts are already ahead of or jumping into wellness headfirst by partnering with a wellness brand that helps offer guests something outside of the average hotel fitness center experience. 

The most notable is fitness brand Equinox, which started as a luxury sports club and has now branched out to open a hotel. With plans to open over 75 hotels in the future and host luxury wellness tours, the gym-turned-lifestyle travel brand is aiming to make wellness a must-have for the hotel industry.

Other brand partnerships to look at? Westin and Peloton + New Balance, Marriott and Nora Tobin, the Fairmont and Reebok, and Kimpton Hotels and PUBLIC Bikes.

Wellness in Meeting + Events

Gone are the days where a quick morning 5K fun run is enough to keep attendees feeling healthy and satisfied during a conference. As people become more conscious of their health, overall, they want that experience to extend to all parts of their lives – meetings included.

At Sparkloft, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to communicate about the MICE industry and understanding what’s most important to meeting planners and attendees. The common theme this year? Wellness, without a doubt. 

Skift released a report about wellness in meetings and events. Smart Meetings is sharing more about meeting mindfully. Cvent has five ways to incorporate wellness. And Meetings Today has the top wellness trends for meetings and events.

Everywhere we turn, wellness is the number one topic on the minds of both meeting planners and conference and event attendees. When building out a social campaign around meetings, it’s important to incorporate how the destination allows attendees to keep up with their fitness routines, and stay physically and mentally healthy while traveling for work. 

At Sparkloft, we know wellness is becoming a bigger part of the consumer’s everyday life and we’re focused on finding innovative ways to incorporate it meaningfully into our social media campaigns. Whether a destination is known for its wellness offerings or its a smaller part of the city’s overall experience, travelers are looking to destinations to highlight the ways they can keep up their wellness routine even away from home.

If you’re curious about how Sparkloft is incorporating wellness meaningfully into social campaigns, get in touch with us! We’d love to help you highlight all that your destination has to offer.

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