The Year of Health and Wellness

The Year of Health and Wellness

What is your purpose in life? If you don’t quite know how to answer that question, you are not alone. But you are statistically less likely to live a happy life. Alarmed? Don’t be. The global luxury travel industry is here for you. Come closer…

As the headline speaker at the ILTM Global Forum, Dan Buettner, pointed out in Cannes, “finding your purpose” is the single most effective short cut to health and wellbeing. It therefore comes as no surprise that the quest for self-actualisation – or in other words, wellness – might just be THE mega-trend to end all mega-trends in the global luxury travel economy.

Time for a history lesson – remember a few years ago when you first heard the words “experiential travel”? Yes! We cried. That’s the word we’ve been searching for, experiential is the way! So you updated all your marketing materials and some hipsters came by the office and delivered a super cool workshop. Then, a couple of years later, you were getting a coffee at ILTM and someone started talking to you about “transformational travel”. Of course! It’s bigger than experiential, it’s transformational. Cool.

Well, guess what? As with every new idea – the iPod for example – it gradually gets streamlined until what you’re left with seems so unbelievably obvious, you simply can’t imagine how you didn’t come up with it in the first place. Welcome to wellness – the luxury travel version of the iPod.

Let me explain. For decades, we, the luxury travel industry, have been talking about the unique healing nature of travel and its other-worldly influence on the psyche, giving perspective where it had gradually worn away, and giving the ultimate luxuries of ‘time’ and ‘space’ in which to relax, reflect and refocus. Travel, we said, is the antidote to the frenetic, fast moving roller coaster of the digitised 20th century. Travel makes us sit down and engage. It forces us to take something to a deeper level.

Fast forward and today’s travel brands exist at the very epicentre of an exciting new eco system. No other industry is better placed to capture this explosion of need. The wellness industry today is worth an estimated $4.2tn dollars, of which “wellness tourism” currently equates to $639bn. What’s more, wellness tourism is growing twice as quickly as tourism expenditure in general, that’s an annual growth of 14%!

ILTM 2018 marked the launch of ILTM’s Year of Health and Wellness, the year when yesterday’s shifts towards experiential experiences and transformative travel settle softly into a wider, more permanent focus on enhanced quality of life and optimum wellbeing. Kicking off in Cannes, ILTM launched research and gathered a community of wellness experts that all draw the same conclusion; in the future, all travel is wellness travel, every trip is expected to enhance the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the traveller, transformation is the very promise of travel, and today’s travel brands are the solution to one of the biggest problems of our age. The future travel economy is based on a lifelong, personal and emotional quest for longevity, where travel is the short cut to the end goal of wellness.

This year, through learning and experiences, we aim to provide practical advice for travel brands about how to bridge the gap between promise and delivery. To provide opportunities for travel brands to fully immerse themselves in the world our luxury consumers now inhabit, to reimagine traditional ‘spa and wellness’ offerings breaking out of venues and disjointed piecemeal treatments, and learning how to fully integrate a message of wellness into our brands. It’s time to take the first step into the future, where hotel brands not only provide a break from the pressures of modern life, but design experiences where the journey undertaken is a journey into oneself, and where travel and travel brands partner with the traveller to prevent disease, improve health, enhance quality of life and bring a person to increasingly optimum levels of wellbeing.

Join us on our journey and find your purpose in business, and more importantly, life.

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