25 Sep 2020 HCM Handbook
 

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Health Club Management Handbook - Industry predictions

Industry insights

Industry predictions


International spa and wellness professionals, working in various industry sectors, give their views on the industry and report back on major trends

Jane Kitchen, Spa Business
The ‘experience generation’ is influencing spas, resulting in more niche, creative concepts

Josefin Roth, Brand Manager, LivNordic
Josefin Roth, brand manager, LivNordic

The Nordic countries have long been seen as a role model in regard to the environment and climate, but more recently, this positioning has been raised higher with Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg making global headlines as she protests about the need for immediate action. Greta has become a symbol for the young all over Europe – particularly for Millennials and Gen Z.

For Nordic spas, going plastic-free isn’t enough; they strive to be green and organic in every way. This extends to being a caring brand, one that is generous to customers, employees, social causes and the environment. This opens up opportunities to the more eco-conscious spa suppliers who share similar values, and extends beyond spa products to technology, food and services. From a design point of view, we see the influence of the experience generation. There is a rise in more niche, creative spa concepts that double as social hangouts, including spas that invite guests to ’write a new life story’ by offering a mix of music, aromas, food, warm baths, cold drinks and hot steam. Similarly, others are combining enjoyment and relaxation to create new concepts, whether this is an invitation to see a great movie in the pool, mix their own scrubs, or rethink spa music so you can both hear and feel it.

"For Nordic spas, going plastic-free isn’t enough; they strive to be green and organic in every way”
There is an opportunity for more eco-conscious spa suppliers
JDr. Kannan Nettath, Director of Spa and Wellness, Geo Spa at Four Seasons Resort Langkawi
Dr. Kannan Nettath

As wellness-focused travel becomes increasingly popular, there is a rise in belief that destinations should channel the raw remedial power of nature, using her most ancient and purest sources of energy. Wellness getaways need to cultivate a meditative environment and nurture beyond the surface of the skin, and there are plenty of opportunities for that in Malaysia. Spa-centric holidays are going beyond physical pampering, and are now designed to boost the spirit, and to support emotional wellbeing.

To accommodate this, many hotel spas in Malaysia are incorporating locally inspired healing, some using traditional healers and priests for shamanic energy work, therapy and traditional healing sessions.

Traditional healers, experts and shamanic priests can offer a taste of local healing tradtions
"Wellness getaways need to cultivate a meditative environment”

In Langkawi, the mountains, islands and beaches hold records of earth’s story that date back over half a billion years. The ancient energies embedded in these natural elements nourish and balance the sacred essence of the individual. There is never a better time to visit a healer than when on vacation. At Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, visiting wellness experts offer nutritional and lifestyle consultations and can perform a variety of tailored healing rituals, from cupping, energy healing and therapeutic massage to fire stopping and Watsu in-pool relaxation. The Geo Spa’s ‘Elemental Balance’ is designed to illuminate the concept of inner balance, helping identify personal imbalances, and facilitate a return to body-mind-spirit health and harmony.

Locally inspired healing often uses natural elements to nourish, balance, and facilitate a return to body-mind-spirit health
Daniel Poulin, Director, Spa & Fitness, North & Central America, Accor Hotels
Daniel Poulin

As reported earlier this year by the economist Thierry Malleret following a story from the Financial Times, “human beings are quintessentially social animals, and study after study shows that social connectedness is the absolute sine qua non of subjective wellbeing”.

Social wellness is a relatively new buzzword, and stems from vast amounts of data showing that social isolation in the “age of loneliness” and the rise of the “#MeOnly society” has a significant impact on our overall wellbeing.

I believe the idea of social wellness will prompt a major change in the hotel industry, which will impact how we design our spa and fitness facilities, as well as the type of programmes we offer, as we aim to facilitate social interaction among our guests.

"The idea of social wellness will prompt a major change in the hotel industry, which will impact how we design our spa and fitness facilities"

Expect to see a lot more co-ed lounges in spas, as well as group exercise studios, fitness classes, outdoor activities such as group hikes, running or biking clubs. Other social meeting places, such as communal juice bars, would easily fit well within the gym or spa space, and even things like co-working spaces could easily be set up in or near these areas.

We are seeing the return of the ‘club’ or ‘tribe’ mentality – a huge trend for millennials today – which is reflected in what I called “well-doing”: an active wellness concept towards the pursuit of happiness through physical and social activities.

Outdoor activities such as group hikes help facilitate interaction among guests shutterstock/Anton Gvozdikov
Tomonori Maruyama, chief research consultant & manager, Mitsui Knowledge Industry Co., Ltd, Japan
Tomonori Maruyama

An emerging opportunity for the spa and wellness industry in Japan is “Shin-Toji”, a scheme for encouraging a wellness lifestyle by spending time at hot spring regions while at the same time enjoying local foods, cultural experiences, natural environments, picturesque scenery, beauty treatments and communication with local people.

Japan has a remarkable 2,983 hot springs regions with 27,297 springs. In 2017, there were 12,860 hot springs providing accommodations for over 130 million guests. As Japan is facing a severely ageing society, “healthy ageing” is a crucial issue. Shin-Toji is expected to make people’s bodies and minds healthier. At the same time, the number of foreign tourist arrivals hit a record of over 30 million last year, and most of them have an interest in experiencing Japanese hot springs. The Japanese Ministry of Environment launched Shin-Toji in April 2018, and 39 cities, 55 companies, 38 resort hotels, 26 tourism associations and 46 other organisations have already been participating as members now.

"Japan is facing a severely ageing society, so healthy ageing is a crucial issue”

Beppu city, one of the members, hosted the International Onsen Summit last year and some 1,000 people from 17 countries participated. Ueda city, also a member, is planning to host the Global Thermal Think-Tank, an international conference, at the Ueda-jo Castle in October 2019. This movement is expected to bring a golden opportunity.

‘Shin-Toji’ is a scheme for encouraging a wellness lifestyle through spending time in hot springs regions shutterstock/By leungchopan
Eglé Rukšėnaitė, Owner & Founder, The E77 Company
Eglé Rukšėnaitė

The history of health prevention and medical spa towns dates back over two hundred years in Lithuania. Our mineral water and local mud have been researched and recognised for their curative properties, and spas have long used them both for both beauty and health treatments. The Vertical Bath treatment is a movement therapy that involves stretching in a deep, warm mineral water pool. This unique treatment has long traditions in Lithuania, and is regarded as an effective way to relieve spinal pain, and to treat hernia, radiculitis, osteochondrosis, neurological and heart diseases as well as respiratory diseases.

Birštonas, Druskininkai, Anykščiai and Palanga are all spa towns with abundant resources of mineral water and healing peat, while the seaside municipality of Neringa is under development, with at least three new spa hotels scheduled to open in the coming years. While many spas were once owned and operated by the state, an economic crisis in the 1990s meant existing infrastructure was acquired by private companies. Today, people are visiting these spa towns not just for rehabilitation, but also for health prevention and relaxation.

"Lithuania’s wellness resorts are undergoing modernisation and opening up their little-known traditions to the world”

Lithuania’s wellness resorts are undergoing modernisation and opening up their little-known traditions to the world, combining centuries-old healing methods, natural curative resources and modernised medical spas with unspoilt nature, local ingredients and health procedures that are prescribed to each visitor by a medical doctor. Spas are focusing on treating contemporary ailments, such as chronic fatigue and insomnia, and many are also adapting their services to meet the needs of a younger generation, including families.

Average occupancy rate at spa hotels in Lithuania ranges from 45 to 70 per cent, and statistics show that seasonality does not have a significant impact on spa towns, which has led to rapidly increasing investments in the spa market.

In the next two years, another 13 spa hotels and wellness destinations are planned in Lithuania. The E77 consultants are collaborating in more than half – eight of them. According to our calculations, total investments should amount to €90.5m – a huge investment for a country with only three million citizens. We believe that in the next decade, Lithuania will become one of the most well-known European spa destinations, as well as a country with one of the best-developed spa business markets in Europe.

The Vertical Bath treatment involves stretching in warm mineral water
Elena Bogacheva, President, Spa and Wellness International Council (SWIC)
Elena Bogacheva

The modern spa and wellness industry in Russia has been facing a serious opposition from official healthcare institutions. Strict sanitary requirements and obligatory medical licenses for spa treatments, including massage, have impeded industry development, especially in the hotel and resort segment of the market. As a consequence, the majority of day spas operating under medical license have become medical spas.

On the other hand, former rehabilitation resorts (“sanatoria”), well equipped for and experienced in balneotherapy and hydrotherapy, have turned to modern spa and beauty treatments in order to attract new clientele. Many of these facilities possess thermal or mineral sources, and have actually become destination spas. Traditional mineral springs resorts are becoming more attractive to both Russian and international investors. The day spa boom that we witnessed in the 90s is gradually shifting these days to the hospitality industry.

"Authenticity and locality are sure to become leading trends for the Russian spa and wellness industry”

Exotic treatments, such as Thai massage and stone therapy, which have been popular with Russian spa-goers, are being replaced by evidence-based detox packages that are provided under medical supervision. Hammams and Finnish saunas have given way to Russian banyas. Authenticity and locality are sure to become leading trends for the Russian spa and wellness industry in the coming years.

Hammams and Finnish saunas have given way to traditional Russian banyas shutterstock/By Iakov Filimonov
Diana F. Mestre, owner, Mestre & Mestre Spa & Wellness Consulting
Diana F. Mestre

Pre-Hispanic healing traditions bring a deep sense of culture and rich heritage, which are inspiring a new trend for unique spa treatments and rituals in Mexico. The Mayan, the Aztec, the Otomi and other Pre-Hispanic cultures are becoming a rich source of inspiration for some of the country’s most prestigious spas.

Curanderos (or medicine women), shamans and Mexican body artisans participate in unique rituals that keep Mexico’s soul alive. Traditions are passed down from generation to generation, and draw their inspiration from native methods of healing; ancient indigenous wisdom; and knowledge of the land and its people, traditions and values – which helps open a new dimension of wellness for the world.

Curanderos (or medicine women) participate in unique rituals that keep Mexico’s soul alive
"Spas in Mexico are integrating the legacy of ancient rituals and healing practices, while supporting and promoting local traditions, healing methods, produce, crafts and skills”

We are seeing an increasing number of one-of-a-kind healing spaces, which combine ancient indigenous philosophy, rituals, medicine, herbalism, and healing methods. These practices can enrich the spa experience with offerings like Temazcal ceremonies, Manteada Maya, obsidian stone massages, copal cleansing, Mayan sound baths, and various Pre-Hispanic massages like the Kukulcan, Pericú, and Purépecha rituals.

Spas in Mexico are integrating the legacy of ancient rituals and healing practices, while supporting and promoting local traditions, healing methods, produce, crafts and skills. This influences the delicate balance and coexistence with nature´s resources, and reflects Mexico´s regional rituals, wealth and beauty – which are waiting to be discovered by the world.

Spas in Mexico are increasingly creating healing spaces that use indigenous rituals
Samantha Arnold, Founder and Managing Director, Spa Advocates
Samantha Arnold

China is still one of the few countries that requires imported skincare products to be tested on animals. Given that the region makes up 20 per cent of the global cosmetics market and generates over US$33bn in revenue, this is concerning for the majority of consumers who support cruelty-free beauty.

As a result of these regulations, our own Spa Advocates’ portfolio of product partners has stayed true to their ethos and have opted not to do business here, forgoing a large opportunity.

China is, however, one step closer to cruelty-free beauty, with an impending change in local regulation. Thanks to a new generation of Chinese consumers who demand a higher level of social responsibility, the government, which faces a balancing act on consumer safety, is slowly showing movement on the matter.

"China is one step closer to cruelty-free beauty, with an impending change in local regulation”

Cruelty Free International, an organisation dedicated to ending animal testing around the world, has been working closely with companies that hold its Leaping Bunny certification and the relevant Chinese authorities. They’ve created a pilot programme designed to give certainty to brands wishing to access the Chinese market while maintaining their status. Ayurvedic skincare brand Subtle Energies is one of a handful of companies that has been using the pilot project to actively build trust and awareness in China in an effort to help influence wider regulatory change.

Although not quite the green light we are patiently waiting for, this is a giant leap in the right direction.

A new generation of Chinese consumers is demanding a high level of social responsibility shutterstock/XiXinXing
Jessica Jesse, founder, CEO and Creative Director, BuDhaGirl
Jessica Jesse

The fashion industry is the world’s seventh largest economy, and spas should pay keen attention to how retail opportunities – specifically fashion within spas – can make an even more powerful experience for your client, while also positively affecting your bottom line.

The choice of garments, shoes, hats, and jewelry that are organic, sustainable, eco-friendly, sun protective and artisanally made are found now at every major tradeshow and online. In the spa environment, it is important to extend the wellness experience through carefully chosen fashion offerings that reflect the spa’s point of view. A fashion purchase that is beautiful and sustainable will be a great marketing tool, as a testimonial for your spa from a happy client.

"It’s important to extend the wellness experience through carefully chosen fashion offerings that reflect the spa’s point of view”

Some exciting trends to look for include athleisure wear, sandals and flip flops made from recycled plastic; jewelry that is waterproof and that can also be worn in any fitness activity, (as spa and fitness often appeal to the same client); robes and sleepwear made from bamboo; and swimsuits with UV protection.

A thoughtfully merchandised fashion presentation with a well-trained staff is integral to the modern spa experience. You already have a captive audience with disposable income…why not take the next step and introduce them to wellness fashion?

Athleisure can easily fit into a spa’s retail section shutterstock/Marina Tatarenko
Jessica Jesse, founder, CEO and Creative Director, BuDhaGirl
Asia Collier, (left) and Cierra Collier of Collier Concepts

Gen Z is a generation blazing new trails for businesses. Instead of looking in a straight line, we see constellations of opportunity, creating at the speed we refresh our media.

Spas need to be a canvas for life: highly aesthetic, clean, inspiring and an opportunity for the perfect Instagram shot. Spas also need to be bold, for chances are you will always intrigue one type of group, and that’s how trends develop. GenZ wants to be heard, be unique and be granted the option to individually place our mark on what we do. Therefore, allow transparency – let us give feedback, and with that growth will develop via communicating different situational opinions. Authenticity is the new way of doing business. Nothing threatens the growth of a business more than its lack of originality. Be confident in providing a new face of health and wellness, one where GenZ may feel personable and fresh.

When I walk into a spa, the initial feeling I seek out is care and effort. It’s important that wellness centres make it clear that they care to adapt to our forever-shifting creativity. Instead of observing GenZ, make optimal efforts to create with us. After all, voices are louder in pairs.

– Asia Collier, (age 19)
"What Gen Z and millennials both strive for is inclusivity. Spas must accept this challenge and create wellness spaces where everybody feels welcome”

Millennials are into self care and “treating themselves.” Younger consumers are focusing on taking time to unwind with guilt-free relaxation. What Gen Z and millennials both also strive for is inclusivity. Spas must accept this challenge and create wellness spaces where everybody feels welcome.

Loosen boundaries between men and women’s areas and create comfortable environments, hosted by open-minded individuals. Spas are safe spaces for people to come back to themselves and come together. Let us relax and have fun, so design with youth in mind, and maybe all spa goers will feel more young and fun too! Imagine: open-concept spaces with natural lighting, fresh music you choose, fun pops of colour, risks taken with regards to concept and design that create a fun/young/sophisticated vibe. Give guests the option to pick a (curated) playlist for your service, offer “no polish” priced MANicures to encourage basic self-care (for men too!), experiment with colourful lighting and colour therapy, create unique treatment experience spaces, be environmentally conscious, use eco-responsible products and have some great food and drinks to share! Millennials will spend time and money on meaningful memories and positive experiences that make a difference for everyone. -– Cierra Collier, (age 23)

Millennials will spend time and money on meaningful memories and experiences shutterstock/Akhenaton Images

Originally published in HCM Handbook 2019 edition

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