A yogi master once said, “Change your thoughts, change your actions, change your world.” When you’re caught in the same routine, day in and day out, changing even your mindset can be difficult enough.
With self-improvement as a goal, many seekers find that leaving the comfort zone, and heading for another region or country, helps them open up to change.
Those travelers are now part of the fastest growing market segment in the travel industry. They are different than your every day tourist, and it’s time for travel operators to wake up to what wellness travelers are searching for.
Does Wellness Travel Really Matter?
In short, Yes. The wellness travel market is growing 50% faster than the rest of the travel industry – that’s huge.
LETS PUT THAT INTO NUMBERS.
According to the Examiner, yoga is a $27 billion dollar industry with more than 32 million practitioners in the US alone- worldwide, it’s estimated to be an $80 billion industry. Most yoga participants have a high spending power – for example, over 30% of Yoga Journal’s readership has an income of over $100,000 per year.
AND THAT’S JUST YOGA.
This translates into a huge market for wellness travel. Wellness travel is one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry, but it seems that no one has set out guidelines as to how travel companies and hotels ought to be adapting to reach this incredibly valuable client base.
What Wellness Travelers Want.
Wellness travelers aren’t motivated by the same things that other travelers might be. They’re probably less interested in seeing famous tourist sites, or spending money on fancy restaurants – unless they’re ethically run and locally sourced. According to The Hotel Yogini Founder, Marisa Paska,
“WELLNESS TRAVELERS ARE LOOKING FOR AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES, CONNECTIONS WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY, OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES AND SELF DISCOVERY.”
In terms of authentic experiences, wellness travelers want to get an idea of what life is really like where they are visiting. They might be less interested in guided tours or locations where only other tourists go. Rather than taking a bus tour to see the sights and a meal at a fancy restaurant, a better offering for wellness travelers might be a bicycle ride through a local village, followed by a traditional-style group lunch.
Beyond being eager to connect with the local community, wellness travelers are looking for a way in which they can contribute. This can be as simple as making sure meals and toiletries are locally sourced, to providing opportunities for guest to volunteer with a local school or organization. This can create lifelong memories and a lasting emotional connection to a community or place, which is very powerful.
Wellness travelers are looking for sustainable travel experience – but lets not kid, they are still on holiday to get something for themselves. That something, is most frequently self growth. This means that they are often in some way at a turning point or a crossroads, which can make them vulnerable or unsure, especially when out of their comfort zone and away from home. According to Ms. Paska,
“IT’S VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT STAFF RECOGNIZE THIS, AND GO OUT OF THEIR WAY TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL SUPPORTED AND CARED FOR DURING THEIR STAY.
Wellness travelers do not expect to be waited on hand and foot- in fact, contributing is often a very successful part of wellness holidays. However, they do expect to be attended to emotionally; which might be a bigger task than you or your staff is used to taking on. When your participating in deep wellness practices, the subsequent reaction can often be intense.
The Benefits of Wellness Travel
The benefits of wellness travel are truly incredible. Wellness practices, without being immersive in any sense, have been proven to lower stress levels, increase cognitive functioning, augment creative thinking and even improve physical health.
In the workplace, the benefits of wellness travel translate to lower expenditures on health care and sick days, and higher output thanks to increased productivity. At home, it means happier, more interactive family members and friends, who are more motivated to participate in the world around them. Marisa Paska, Founder of The Hotel Yogini, had this to say in a statement.
“WELLNESS TRAVEL ACCELERATES THE AFFECTS OF WELLNESS PROGRAMS BY PROVIDING THEM TO PEOPLE IN INTENSIVE FORMAT, IN A PLACE WHERE THE GUEST IS OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONE.”
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Well, while we’re at home, following our usual routine, we create a certain amount of resistance to change. This is due to the fact that we need our stabilization in order to continue doing, well, whatever it is we’re doing. While this is very helpful for getting things done, it’s not conducive to transformational experiences.
When we’re traveling, we’re generally more open. Open to meeting new people, trying new things, and experimenting with the unknown. This makes us much more susceptible to change – and thus, to the transformative effects of wellness programs.
Travelers are more likely to test and push past their limits. To reach a little deeper, climb a little higher and stretch a little further. They’re more likely to experience awe, thanks to the beauty of nature or simple novelty, and to feel true gratitude. All of these things allow us to reprogram our mental synapses – and with a carefully designed wellness program to guide them, guests can make lasting changes that they will bring back with them to their day-to-day life.
Wellness travel is beneficial to everyone, but it’s particularly recommended for those who live the most structured and unbalanced lives – executives, lawyers, doctors, etc. The most drastic changes in the lives of those ‘up high’ can trickle down into the lives of everyone who works ‘underneath’ them. Human society is a complex web, and altering one person in a positive way can affect so many others, in an equally positive manner. Ms. Paska relates a story.