What Clients Look for in a Wellness Destination

As society continues to change, and people see their need for a healthier lifestyle, global geographic destinations are working to launch wellness initiatives and even to position themselves as wellness destinations to attract the growing number of wellness-minded travelers. However, consumer perception of a wellness destination is key. And the majestic beauty of nature rules!

As a travel professional, it is imperative that you take a deep dive into wellness destinations and follow their marketing efforts as they continue to evolve and develop programs designed with the wellness traveler in mind.

To prepare yourself for the onslaught of requests from clients for a wellness-focused vacation, enroll in our newly launched Wellness Travel Specialist Course. This course is free if you have access to our Premium Access Library.

And to discover what’s new and what’s ahead for wellness travel and the wellness tourism industry, don’t miss the Wellness Travel Outlook: Industry Insiders Discuss New 2021 Trends panel discussion hosted TODAY at noon (EST) by Anne Dimon, President/CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association.

When it comes to what consumers look for when planning a wellness vacation, geographic destinations having easy access to nature will rate highly on lists of perceived wellness destinations.

Destination attributes—including natural beauty, mountains, ocean, beaches, natural hot springs and therapeutic waters, warm weather, plus assets like spas, wellness retreats, and wellness resorts with a variety of wellness-type activities to choose from—are the items most often associated with regions looking to attract the wellness-minded or those who want to use their vacation time to launch a healthier lifestyle.

The natural beauty part certainly makes sense because, while some clients are looking to enhance their quality of life, other clients may be looking to reconnect with each other and disconnect from technology. Nature offers both the stimulus one needs, while offering the much-needed mental break. Destinations that work to preserve and promote their natural assets will win with clients.

In 2019, the Wellness Tourism Association developed this list of assets and attributes that geographic destinations should have if they plan to market themselves as wellness destinations and be perceived as such in the minds of consumers:

  • A safe/secure environment in both perception and reality. The most appealing destinations will be those having the trust and confidence of the public.
  • A clean and sanitary infrastructure. Upgraded hygiene and cleanliness procedures rank high on the list of policies for both locals and visitors.
  • A focus on the quality of life for locals. Travelers want to see their tourism dollars used to support the community through locally grown produce, products, and services offered by local entrepreneurs.
  • Natural assets. From hot springs to forests to thalassotherapy sites, many wellness travelers want to reconnect with nature, so these natural assets should be easily accessible.
  • Sustainability policies and best practices. Travelers want to know that destinations are invested in responsible sustainable travel to protect the local environment.
  • The availability of various fitness-based activities and tours. Many travelers not only want to be in nature but also want to participate in fitness activities—from yoga, to hiking, to stand-up paddle boarding. Destinations allowing visitors to access such activities score highly among these more health-focused travelers.
  • Health food options. With “healthy food options” on the short list of Must Haves, wellness destinations should be home to a variety of restaurants offering healthful cuisine prepared by chefs committed to clean eating and who work with local growers.
  • Wellness professionals. Depending on their goals and objectives, many travelers want access to a range of wellness professionals and practitioners, including those who offer holistic and alternative modalities.
  • Peace and quiet. Travelers looking for rest and relaxation may want to avoid congested cities and over-populated tourist attractions in favor of more remote locations.

In addition, more tourism boards are starting to launch strategic wellness initiatives that will position them favorably in the minds of the wellness-minded consumer. Quite possibly the first North American tourism boards to embrace wellness with full strategic initiatives are the Greater Palm Spring Convention & Visitors Bureau, Sedona Tourism Bureau, and Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In fact, the Greater Palm Springs CVB has built its wellness initiative around natural assets, including therapeutic mineral waters, mountains, canyons, and iconic national parks that lend themselves to fitness activities, such as hiking, cycling, and horseback riding.

As a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Tucson has built its wellness initiative around the fresh, local, seasonal foods that embrace a 4,000-year-old culinary heritage that is a tapestry of Mexican and Native American culinary tradition.

Scenic beauty is the main draw to Sedona and is the primary approach in marketing the destination. It aligns with arts and culture, sustainability, and outdoor adventures to support the wellness theme.

Although the travel industry is on the brink of a dramatic rebound, there still is time for you to educate yourself and specialize in wellness travel and tourism by enrolling in the Wellness Travel Specialist Course.