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New State of Wellness Travel Survey Shows Record Statistic

spafinder state of spa travel report

A record 86 percent of travel agents expect growth in wellness travel in 2015, according to Spafinder Wellness 365™’s eighth annual State of Wellness Travel Survey, released September 16, 2015. Both consumers and the industry are significantly more aware of wellness travel—and travelers are seeking experiences far beyond traditional spas when it comes to booking a vacation or business trip. Read on for report findings that may be relevant to your business.

  • Awareness of Wellness Travel Growing Everywhere: Agents were asked how awareness of the wellness travel category changed in the last year, and the results show the category is on more people’s radar, on every front. Between 71-80 percent of agents report significant annual growth in awareness with consumers, travel agents, the tourism industry and hospitality industry.
  • Many Wellness Elements Matter to Travelers: Agents rated how important 16 different property wellness “elements” were for their average client, and every single component, from healthy cuisine to outdoor adventure programming to alternative medical services, rated as “important,” scoring at least a 5.9 out of 10.
  • Wellness Travel Reaches beyond Spa: The majority of agents (52 percent) report that 20 percent or less of the wellness-focused travel they book is primarily spa-focused. Just one in five agents (19 percent) say that over 50 percent of the wellness travel booked is primarily focused on spa experiences.
  • The Wellness Premium: Eighty-three percent of agents agree consumers are willing to pay a premium for wellness travel or access to healthy products and services while traveling.
  • Healthy Rise in Healthy Meetings: Seventy-nine percent of respondents report that demand for healthier business meetings (i.e., with healthy food, fitness and spa experiences) is a rising trend.
  • Wellness Travel Destinations Getting “Hotter”: As noted above, among all global regions, Asia saw the biggest growth in wellness travel bookings in the last year, and within that region, Thailand ranked first, followed by Bali/Indonesia and India. In the Americas, Costa Rica was the overwhelming leader, followed by the Caribbean Islands, Nicaragua and Brazil. In Europe, Hungary, Croatia, Turkey, Italy and Greece were standouts, and across the Middle East/Africa, the top popularity gainers were Israel, Dubai and Morocco.
  • Top Brands in Wellness Travel: When asked to name the top brands in wellness travel, agents submitted dozens of hotels, resorts, spa brands and individual properties. The top five brands identified were: Canyon Ranch, Starwood (including Westin, St. Regis and Sheraton), Four Seasons, Hyatt and Six Senses.

The full report is available here.

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What Do Consumers Want Most This Holiday?

Spafinder Wellness 365®’s research team recently conducted a user insights survey to gain knowledge on consumer trends towards holiday gifting habits and corporate incentives for those employed at corporations. The results confirm the importance of spa and wellness—and the benefits your businesses bring to help people feel good and live well, all year round. Read a sampling of the survey’s noteworthy statistics.

Here is a sampling of the survey’s noteworthy statistics:

Holiday Consumer Trends

  • 42% of respondents indicated that they much prefer to give the gift of experiences over “things” such as dining out, entertainment like shows/movies, travel gift cards, classes, museum memberships etc., whereas 49% indicated that they prefer to give both equally, and a much smaller portion or 9% indicated that they much prefer giving “things” over the gift of experiences.
  • 42% of respondents indicated that they are more likely to give the gifts of “experiences” (rather than just “things”) this year, than in the past, whereas 51% indicated that this type of gift giving would be about the same, and a smaller portion or 6% of respondents were less likely to give the gift of “experiences” (rather than just “things”).
  • A majority of respondents, or 65%, indicated that they, themselves would prefer to receive gifts of experiences this holiday season, such as gifts of travel, spa experiences, entertainment, restaurants, etc. over “things.” 32% indicated they’d like to receive both equally, whereas a smaller portion or 3% indicated that they’d prefer to receive the gift of “things” over “experiences.”
  • When respondents were asked to rank which of the following gifts they would most like to receive, some of the top-ranked choices included: spa day or spa gift card, gift of travel or travel gift card, gift of dining out—restaurant gift card, and gift of entertainment/culture: movies, shows, concerts, museum membership, etc.; whereas lesser ranked items included fitness classes—such as yoga or Pilates, gym memberships, and other classes (anything from cooking to meditation classes).

Corporate Incentive Trends

  • Other than a cash bonus, some of the top choices respondents would most like to receive from their employer(s) as holiday gift this year included the following: extra time off, a generic gift card (like AMEX, VISA), a gift/gift card for healthy experiences like massage, spa, etc., a gift card for a specific store/retailer, a gift card for dining out or entertainment, and a gift of food, candy or wine (gift basket, etc.). Some of the choices that were less highly ranked included the following: a company party, lunch or special group outing, a charitable donation made in company’s name, a gift card for specific store/retailer, a product (electronics, apparel, etc.), or a travel gift card.
  • An overwhelming majority of respondents, or 94% indicated that if their employer were to give them a spa day/or gift of massage this holiday, they would be very likely to take advantage of it.
  • A large majority of respondents, or 88%, indicated that if their employer were to give them a gift of fitness classes (yoga, Pilates, etc.), they would be likely to take advantage of it, and 54% or more than half indicated that they were “very likely” to take advantage of this option.
  • A large majority of respondents, or 88%, indicated that if their employer were to give them a gift of a spa day/treatment(s) or fitness/wellness classes as a gift, they would prefer to choose the location on their own, not their employer.

Spafinder Wellness 365 User Insights Survey (Holiday and Corporate Gifting); November 2014; 1,073 respondents.

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#1 New Survey Trend: Traveling to Spas Specifically for Health and Wellness

Results from the annual SpaFinder State of Spa Travel survey are hot off the press, and we want to share a few of the significant findings with you. The survey, now in its fifth year, provides annual insight into what travelers are looking for when booking spa travel, along with the developments in the spa travel industry, including such sectors as the overall health of the market, traveling demographics and popular locations/amenities.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what travel agents have to say about the spa travel marketplace:

Hottest Trend – Health & Wellness Spa Travel: Travel agents ranked “increased interest in spa travel specifically for wellness & health” as the #1 fastest-growing spa travel trend. Additionally, 79% of agents report clients are more interested in spa vacations with a strong health/wellness component in 2011 over 2010, while another 18% report the trend remains just as strong.

Rounding out the top 5 trends: 2) “social spa-ing”; 3) people traveling solo to spa destinations; 4) spa travel for younger people (under 40); and 5) increased interest in international spa destinations.

Even More Aggressive Deals in 2011: Despite more bullish reports for travel generally, 55% of agents reported that hotel/resort/destination spas are actually offering more aggressive deals, attractive pricing and value-add packages in 2011 over 2010 – with only 8% seeing any declines in the deals this year.

Price-per-Night Firms at Higher End: At the same time there seems to be some distinct price firming at the higher end of the market. In both 2009 and 2010, 75% of spa travel booked fell under $299/night, but that dropped to 62% this year. And, while in 2010, only 10% of bookings topped $350/night, this year that jumped to 21%. For 2011, the most commonly booked price-per-night is $250-$299, but 38% of bookings now fall in the $300+ range (up from 29% in 2010).

Baby Boomers Still Rule the “Spa Pool”: Baby Boomers (aged 46-65) remain the age demographic most likely to book spa travel, accounting for 68% of bookings in 2011; however, the younger “Gen X” demographic is also a critical client base, with 31% of bookings this year gs coming from those aged 36-45.

Spa Access Remains #1 Traveler Consideration: Agents ranked which offerings/amenities at destinations are most critical to their clients; the 2011 rankings: 1) spa facilities/access; 2) proximity to beach; 3) sightseeing; 4) nature-based activities, like hiking, etc.; 5) shopping; 6) golf facilities; and 7) skiing access.

Read the entire press release here.

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Highlights from the State of Spa Travel Survey

SpaFinder is renowned for being a leading authority in the spa travel industry ( ranks as the number-one site global consumers visit for spa/wellness information, according to Coyle Hospitality Research), and SpaFinder’s fourth annual travel agent survey offers a timely snapshot of the trends agents are observing in the travel marketplace. This annual report, conducted with 250-plus global travel agents, also provides helpful benchmarks for your business for the year ahead.

Below are a few significant findings we’d like to share with you from the State of Spa Travel survey:

  • Despite lots of press on an economic turnaround, 44% of travel agents report that hotel/resort/destination spas are actually more aggressive in offering special deals in 2010 over 2009!
  • Despite the abysmal 2009 economy, approximately two in three agents reported no declines in spa travel bookings last year (over 2008); 26% cited spa travel actually increased (11% reported “significant” decreases in 2009.)
  • Sixty-six percent of agents report their clients are expressing a rising interest in vacations with a dedicated health/wellness focus.
  • The number-one consideration for travelers (for the fourth straight year!) is access to spa facilities, followed by proximity to a beach, sightseeing, hiking/nature-based activities, shopping, and access to golf and skiing.

Learn more here.

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We Want You!


Help the spa industry better position itself within the wellness market.  In order to provide market intelligence, SRI International is conducting a study and inviting you, our partners, to share your viewpoint.  The survey relates to how spas and spa-related businesses are responding to wellness trends.  Please take the survey and get the answers this May!

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