How to Define Wellness

Particularly, the hospitality industry is using the word wellness in excess to ensure they receive the stamp of doing something for their client's benefit. But does their interpretation of wellness encompasses the whole spectrum?

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The Thrive Approach - How To Define Wellness

When we throw the word “wellness” into the world, a chapter in our marketing plan can be ticked off. Designing something with a spa, massage, or a whole food stamp embedded into it, and it is almost a certainty it will resonate.

It is not uncommon to see this above floating around in the minds of hospitality professionals these past months before coming to fruition. The world has moved from a partially sedentary hibernation into firing up all engines to get revenues up to pre-COVID times. And trust me on this one; I don’t blame them at all for going all bonkers in using wellness as the new keyword. Whatever gets your bank account up in the black, I am all for it.

Tourism numbers across the globe have crumbled down to rock bottom lows. Rooms and suites gathered dust like there was no tomorrow. Rebooking and issuing vouchers for future stays was the “new normal” for many hoteliers and resort owners.

The boost for getting off our arses and see the world is bigger than ever before. I almost wanted to write a “Brave New World”, as travel to certain countries are still engrossed with health risks, and an unimaginable amount of nose swipes and legal documents.

Just like categorizing a hotel as “superior” or “boutique”, the standards surrounding wellness in the hospitality industry are not aligned. It is fairly easy to label something with a hue of health embedded in it. A seasoned hotelier defines its precious property as “in the middle of it all” or “intimate”. There are no(t yet) international standards that ink these definitions into the minds of every single explorer worldwide. It is all fairly relative, a bit subjective, reasonably nation and region-bound. It is comparing apples with apples in a pre-defined destination.

I am definitely not forgetting that some wonderful organizations use strict rules and regulations to set the bar for standardization. It is not a universally implemented measurement for all hotels and resorts yet. It is slightly scattered. Numerous hotels in the world may see reviews entering on their TripAdvisor where discerned customers fail to be connected to the definition of what is marketed and what the customer envisions prior to checking in.

The same should be applied to how this industry defines wellness. 

I have seen many hotels and resorts aiming high with wellness packages and health-central offers to lure in customers. But again, it is scattered. Has wellness become a marketing word to determine whether you do, as a hotelier, something healthy?

Wellness encompasses more than offering only a spa treatment. Or an in-room 2-hour massage served in conjunction with a healthy, low sodium meal from organically sourced ingredients. Or offering a pillow menu to ooze off into the night, just the way the client prefers it. These are the key components of where numerous directors of sales and marketing envision wellness during a strategic sales meeting. It becomes part of their offers. I am not saying every single resort – I know a few properties that take wellness farther – but the mushrooming trend of putting the wellness definition in a broader context is something that got me thinking.

It is not the same for everyone. Wellness must be seen in a much broader perspective. And it should be clearly defined when using wellness in sales-driven strategies.

The world’s population may, too, have a misconception of what wellness entails. Could this be considered smart marketing or perhaps ignorant of how wellness can be seen on a much broader scale? 

One of the better definitions of wellness I have gathered (and I use my own words), states that wellness is a conscious pursuit of mindfully chosen activities, lifestyle changes and habitual approaches to reach a holistic state of health. I would like to add the word ‘consistent’ in this line, but it would be a bit too complex to read out loud. But it must be added when grasping the complete context of wellness. 

There are a few keywords in the above paragraph that are in line with a more accurate definition of wellness. Translating this to a wellness package from a hotel and you may see the discrepancies.

Just like choosing a hotel based on its rating or its reviews, its amenities and locations, wellness is a highly individual and complex collection of factors. It may not always be aligned with how confident a secluded sanctuary with a spa says it ‘does wellness’.

This is where my Deep Health approach comes in.

For me, wellness encompasses my six pillars of Deep Health: physical, mental, social, environmental, spiritual, and emotional. Some parts perfectly fit in of what marketing-savvy and KPI-hungry hospitality professionals want to bring forward. Each aspect of Deep Health is intertwined with another. One part cannot function well when another section of Deep Health is slightly off balance.

For one, wellness can just well be a beach chair on a tropical island with a cold beer and a good book. Another looks to upgrade one’s social and physical wellness during a live-aboard scuba diving trip around the Maldives. Yet, these two examples do not complete the broader definition and perspective of wellness either.

There is the continuum side of wellness. 

I have yet to see one wellness package that offers services after clients have checked out. Offer what’s contracted and send the client off with a wave and flower garland. Wellness must never be seen as part of a short-term sales pitch. There is a responsibility from those using wellness as a means to get back on track to translate that wellness is not enveloped in a full-day or 5-day package. 

Failing to ignore that temporary relief of any discomfort – be it any of the Deep Health pillars – will not see a thriving you when handing in your room key before heading out to the airport. Your aim to wellness fails when moving back into your old habits.

One has to agree that knowledge and consistency is essential in this frame of definition. Use the term wellness with some caution, and clearly defined, outlines is needed to be put forward when one really is keen to serve its customers in the best way forward. 

And let’s be honest, we all want the very best for our clients. Not only now but also for their future.

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver | Mahatma Gandhi

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