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At the recent Global Spa Summit in Bali, Dr. László Puczkó of Xellum, presented a report “Health And Wellness Tourism”, about the current state of the spa industry.

Dr. László Puczkó is managing partner at Xellum and has been working in health related travel for over 15 years, on development projects, strategies, forecasting, trends, trend definition and on planning on a regional or national level. Caroline Ratner of the IMTJ spoke to him about the report and his view of spa and wellness tourism today.

Why was the report commissioned?
The aim of the report is to identify and highlight the opportunities and issues in the global spa industry today and also to point out important opportunities for growth, especially in areas which haven’t already been exhausted or addressed. The Global Spa Summit chose us to write the report because we have an overview and understanding of both sides of the spa and tourism industries and provide a link between the two.

What do you think some of the main problems and issues are facing the global spa and wellness industry?
One of the main issues is getting the terminology right, the word “spa” has been bastardised and stretched to become a catch-all term and means different things to both consumers and suppliers of services. A lot of services are standardised, a spa where you have a facial and a massage and maybe some water based therapy, especially at European spas, is what most people imagine a spa to be but there are so many different types of spa experiences available.

Getting a clear definition of what a company is offering is crucial for both the industry and its consumers. Consumers are confused; and it can be even more confusing when a company comes up with terms like med spa and medical spa because there is no standard definition of what these terms mean but if someone wants to enter the generic service market then the term “wellness” is appropriate, this implies that it is a mid market or upmarket service, either in a hotel or health facility which includes treatments that include different types of massage, beauty treatments and usually a swimming pool. This is what most consumers expect a spa to be.

And of course one of the biggest problems facing many different countries and companies providing the same generic “spa” experience” is where are their customers going to come from? I foresee this as a huge challenge. It’s clear to me that the market isn’t really big enough. When you’re offering something generic it’s purely about price and reputation and that’s probably not going to be enough.

What is the solution?
In the report we’ve outlined ways of helping businesses and consumers understand what they are offering, and how to differentiate themselves by using the correct terminology. The market is unaware that they can use many different words to describe what they are offer and that other words would be more appropriate and help them market their product at their target market more precisely, whether it’s a retreat, a wellness cruise, an ashram, a refuge you name it, yoga camp, boot camps and so on. By precisely naming what they do potential customers will find it much easier to identify and understand the services on offer and find what they are looking for, companies need to define whether it is wellness tourism, medical tourism, spa tourism etc. We designed a grid for the report to clarify the terms because I don’t think they are interchangeable when it comes to spas, a lot depends on the location and what it is on offer.

There is so much more to the wellness experience than consumers are aware of so part of the solution is to educate consumers about what different types of wellness experiences and holidays are available and to market to them appropriately, people will seek you out if you are different from the rest.

Every country is unique and what could be very appealing to travellers is the authenticity of the whole experience of travelling to a foreign country, experiencing a foreign culture and location and the different types of experiences available in that location. This could be anything that can include resort spas in beautiful locations, ashrams, yoga retreats, lifestyle retreats (like longevity centres) and eco-spas which can be very location specific and not necessarily high end. Countries could offer fusion products, where you have an activity or healthy living experience combined with being in a unique and beautiful location. … Read More

Via The International Medical Travel Journal