The mental and physical wellbeing of millions of people has been seriously compromised by the Covid-19 pandemic. When they travel again, they will need much more than sun, sea and sundowners to undo the damage.
Wellness might have had an important place in the tourism product mix for decades, but it should today be factored into the wider tourism offering as standard.
Creating physical, spiritual and mental wellness packages that promote prolonged periods of positive downtime give destinations – and the hotels, resorts and retreats within them – an exceptional opportunity to attract new and lucrative traveller audiences this year.
This is not simply because of the effects of Covid. Younger generations are much more consistently aware of mental health issues than those that have come before them. But the global health emergency has accelerated the process, producing major pent-up demand for wellness products.
In just one example, the UK’s Mental Health Foundation says that three in four people in the country have felt so stressed in the last year that they have felt 'overwhelmed' or 'unable to cope'.
The travelling public has the time and the budget to invest in making themselves feel better. Now is the time to launch creative, multi-platform campaigns that inform and nurture audiences about wellness travel.
By combining considered products and promotional pull, curiosity can be efficiently converted to bookings.
Customer journeys through the bookings process and promotional campaigns need to be enhanced - improving destinations’ visibility on the wellness radar.
Right now, searching for a wellness retreat is like falling down a rabbit hole of outdated sites with each click driving further anxiety and confusion. Promotions need to be streamlined and search journeys need to open a door to an accessible and beautiful online experience.
The same goes for the destination’s social media presence. By creating an inspiring look and feel that works in perfect synchronicity with campaign content, it is possible to resonate with users and generate a desire for a wellness escape. We should not only tap into our audiences but have them convert like never before.
Which leads me to the offerings themselves. Wellness travel doesn’t always involve yoga retreats, spa treatments, or cycling tours. The industry is looking at novel ways to boost people’s wellbeing by using alternative and traditional methods and therapies.
One example is the rapid rise of veganism over the past decade. Airlines, hoteliers and destinations as a whole should now consider the dietary needs of vegans as an adjunct to wellness. The rise of vegan-friendly destinations – from Greece and Majorca to Bali and India – is definitely on the horizon for 2021.
Equally, while so-called traditional therapies still split opinion today, there is no denying that they are on the rise. One of the best examples of a therapy that was once considered alternative medicine – but has solidified its position in conventional medicine backed by scientific research – is acupuncture.
Rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, today’s acupuncture practices are a unique integration of the old and new. Strong evidence exists that acupuncture is effective for chronic pain conditions.
For the braver travel business, alternative therapies don’t have to stop at traditional practices. For example, Hong Kong tour operator Behold Retreats offers plant medicine excursions, which provide personalised psilocybin and ayahuasca holidays to legal markets.
Taking it further still, Dutch retreat Synthesis provides psychedelic experiences involving high-dose, legal truffles containing psilocybin, whilst promising you personal growth, emotional breakthrough, and spiritual development.
The Bio Hacking Trend
‘Biohacking’ wellness started making headlines in 2020 and is expected to continue trending. A science-charged version of self-enhancement, biohacking, according to Tony Robbins is “changing our chemistry and our physiology through science and experimentation to energise and enhance the body”.
By discovering eating patterns and a lifestyle best suited to individual body types, these therapies are receiving genuine commercial interest. If they are good enough for Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland, then the industry needs to take note.
Carmi has a keenness for all things social and digital. With her experience at big players such as KPMG and BBDO, combined with her consultancy and project management skills, Carmi has helped brands reach new digital heights.