Wellness Tourism Association’s 2018 Survey Reveals What Consumers Want in a Wellness Vacation, 2020 Consumer Survey Currently in the Works

by Anne Dimon
Wellness Tourism Association’s 2018 Survey Reveals What Consumers Want in a Wellness Vacation, 2020 Consumer Survey Currently in the Works

 

The need to better understand what consumers want in a Wellness Vacation was the driving force behind the Wellness Tourism Association’s 2018 Wellness Travel Survey. Conducted mid-January to the end of August, 2018, the online survey drew from 2,566 respondents of which 95% were from the U.S. and Canada. Respondents were those who had already expressed some interested in wellness travel via social media or as subscribers to various newsletters distributed by WTA members. The survey included 16 questions related to demographics as well as to Wellness Vacations. Respondents were overwhelmingly female ages 35 plus, with just 10 percent of total respondents under the age of 35. Of the men who filled out the survey, half were 55 plus.

 

To assess their level of understanding, we kicked off the survey by asking each participant to give us their personal definition of a Wellness Vacation. Overall, responses reflected that the concept around the Wellness Vacation is understood at least by the survey participants.  

 

Over 63% of respondents revealed they had been on a Wellness Vacation as they themselves described, while the remainder said they had never been on a Wellness Vacation, but planned to take one and wanted more information.

 

This particular finding supports a recent poll of WTA members on trends they are seeing for 2019 and beyond: More “newcomers” participating in their wellness programs. For instance, Pritikin in Miami, Florida reports that in 2018, approximately 50% of their guests were first timers. According to Canyon Ranch, new guests also make up nearly 50% of their business, and at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta, 95% of the people who attend their all-inclusive retreats have not previously participated in a wellness retreat. WTA members report the growth of “first timers” as a growing trend as consumers become more aware of the importance of taking charge of their own health.

 

General Overall Reboot is the Prime Objective   

 

In response to the question “If you are planning to take a wellness vacation in 2018 or 2019 what would be the main goal?”, just under half of survey respondents (44.93%) identified a general, overall reboot” as their prime objected, followed by “reconnecting with self” and a “mental health break.”

 

Healthy Food Options Top the List of “Must Haves”  

 

The vast majority (just under 85%) of people told us a “variety of healthy food options” topped their list of Must Haves for a Wellness Vacation.

 

“Accessible nature” was second. Followed by “a wide range of schedule fitness activities” and “access to spa treatments” pretty much tied for third place on this list of Must Haves. “Peace and quiet” was fourth. And, it surprised us to learn that “A Fully Hosted Event” was the least most important item on their list. Nearly 8 in 10 selected “a self-guided program with opportunity to pick and choose from a menu of options,” versus just over 2 in 10 who desired “a structured program guided by hosts and experts.”

 

Preferences on Travel Partners and Length

 

When we asked “With whom do you prefer to travel,” the overwhelming response (47%) was a combo of “solo” and “solo to meet up with the like-minded” followed closely by travel “with a significant other.”  But what we really found fascinating was that it is mostly men who want to travel with their significant others. Women want to travel solo or solo to meet up with others with similar interests. The only female group that indicated they wanted to travel with their “significant other” was those under the age of 35.  Right across the industry, the rise in solo travellers appears to be a trend, and WTA members are witnessing it as well. At Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, 50% of their wellness package guests are women traveling solo, and that figure increases to 75% for the hotel’s three- and four-night retreats. At Canyon Ranch resorts in Lenox, Massachusetts and Tucson, Arizona, President and COO Thomas Klein says, “half of our guests are solo travelers.” While the integrative wellness brand historically skews higher with female guests, in general, Klein says they are seeing an increase in solo male travellers.

 

Preferred Length of Stay

 

When it came to preferred length of stay for a Wellness Vacation, close to half of participants sized up their “perfect length of stay” as “3 to 5 nights,” while just over a third said they preferred “7 nights.” That being said, members are also seeing greater flexibility with length of stays. The 40-year-old New Life Hiking in Killington, Vermont, reports that over the past three years, the number of guests that have stayed longer than two weeks has increased by 90% which prompted them the addition of the 21-night wellness retreat launched in 2017.  Simultaneously, Canyon Ranch has seen a decrease in guests’ average length of stay, as customers seek shorter and more frequent trips. And, at Hilton Head Health in South Carolina, while “annual visits” have been popular for years, guests are now planning out shorter, more frequent trips (two to four times per year) to stay on track, while others are dedicating resources to commit to an 8- to 12-week stay to make a significant impact on their health. 

 

Ideal spend   

 

Answers to the question on what they would be willing to spend on a Wellness Vacation indicated that while consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits associated with a true Wellness Vacation planned with a specific goal and carefully researched to ensure the right fit, the survey revealed that there is a high percentage still needing to better understand the value proposition.

Just shy of half the respondents (49.22%) would be “willing to spend less than $2,000” on a five-day all-inclusive (exclusive of transportation) Wellness Vacation, while close to the same number (44.86%) would be “willing to spend between $2,500 and $5,000.” With the rising costs of health care and prescription drugs, consumers need to be better educated on the fact that, over time, it will cost them less to spend money on preserving their health, than dealing with the costs of declining health.

 

Our 2020 consumer survey is already in the works and results will be shared with the industry before the end of the year.   

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About Wellness Tourism Association

The Wellness Tourism Association is a global organization, incorporated as a not-profit company in the State of Colorado, U.S.  The mission is to continue to grow the community, to work together to support the sustainable future of wellness tourism for the global good.  Co-Founders are Accor Hotels, Canyon Ranch and Travel to Wellness with Founding Members Art of Living Retreat Center and the Monaco Government Tourist Office. www.wellnesstourismassociation.org

Anne Dimon is a long-time travel journalist, founder/editor of www.traveltowellness.com and Co-Founder & President of the Wellness Tourism Association. You can connect with her at admin@wellnesstourismassociation.org

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Wellness Tourism Association’s 2018 Survey Reveals What Consumers Want in a Wellness Vacation, 2020 Consumer Survey Currently in the Works

Wellness Tourism Association’s 2018 Survey Reveals What Consumers Want in a Wellness Vacation, 2020 Consumer Survey Currently in the Works

The need to better understand what consumers want in a Wellness Vacation was the driving force behind the Wellness Tourism Association’s 2018 Wellness Travel Survey.

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17

% of Global Tourism

365

Days of Well-being

639

Billion