Each year, the Global Wellness Summit identifies new trends that will have an impact on the US$4.2 trillion wellness industry. As we’ve come to realise, lifestyle and wellness trends have spilled over to meetings and events as more planners and venues look to incorporate green juices and morning yoga into their programmes.
Here are some of the trends highlighted by the Summit.
Wellness takes over overtourism
It’s no secret that travel may have adverse impacts on local communities and the environment. And the problem is amplified by the fact that a majority of the world’s travelers populate only a number of popular destinations. And in cities such as Venice and Barcelona, overtourism is a real problem.
“The top 20 country destinations will add more arrivals by 2020 than the rest of the world combined,” said Gloria Guevara, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). By 2020, Euromonitor predicts the top 20 countries in its study will see an additional 121 million arrivals, while the remaining 59 countries will receive around 72 million arrivals.
According to the report, wellness travel can promote under-visited destinations as an “escape valve” to overtourism. As the wellness community in its collective consciousness is awakened to the possibilities of making more ethical choices, it’s important to them when seeking venues, to align their choices with their ideals of wellness and sustainability.
The Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) is beginning to develop wellness-focused destinations, such as the village of Misugi in the Mie Prefecture, Beppu on the southern island of Kyushu, and the Dragon Route through the Chubu region.
In cities where space is tight, such as Singapore, hotels are stepping up to introduce wellness elements. For example, the Six Senses Duxton hosts a resident Chinese doctor, who provides complimentary consultation services for guests.
Meditation beyond a “fringe activity”
The report said that meditation is clocking the “meteoric growth” that yoga once did 20 years ago. This has been largely enabled by it being accessible at more fitness studios, dedicated centres and meditation apps. On top of that, wellness types are also familiar with the three types of meditation: open monitoring meditation, focused attention meditation, and self-transcending meditation.
In the meetings and events space, more planners are trying to incorporate meditation breaks into their agendas. In the case of Dreamforce in San Francisco, the 170,000-strong crowd took a break from hours of content with a guided meditation break. The World Economic Forum in Davos and IMEX America in Las Vegas also featured meditation sessions for delegates.
The boom of the nature economy
To complement the desire for travellers to connect to natural surroundings, the report said that more hotels and spas are offering more outdoor programming and marketing it to their guests more creatively. For instance, the runWestin programme by the Westin Hotels & Resorts promotes local running routes in the the company's locations by way of a global runWestin concierge.
In spaces where the surrounding wilderness isn’t an option, “evidence-based design” can be used in our buildings to “enhance physical, emotional and cognitive health outcomes”. For instance, Naava, a Finnish health technology firm, specialises in the development of smart, active green walls to purify the air of enclosed spaces.
Scent as mental wellness
We have trouble coming to terms with this sentence in the report: “The sense of smell is having a renaissance.” But according to neurobiologists, scents are sensory experiences that help people store information about space and time.
An example of a high-profile event making use of scent was the recent PCMA Convening Leaders in Pittsburgh, where an events expert designed specific scents for each of the Content Studios. She focused on scents that should be familiar to most attendees—citrus, trees, florals, and mints—while also taking into consideration individual reactions such as allergies or migraine triggers.
Uncovering wellness in China
The report said that China is experiencing a “seismic shift” towards health and wellness, with brand-savvy Chinese consumers valuing stringent safety standards, improved quality and innovation that foreign brands promise. They are also willing to pay premium prices.
This also links to China’s spike in outbound travel and travellers’ increased pursuit of ‘authentic’ experiences away form flag-bearing tours. According to a 2017 survey from Qyer, over 70% of travellers are seeking local experiences or wellness-related activities, such as culinary explorations, outdoor recreation, gallery and museum visits, nature and ecological tours, beauty and spa treatments, and hot springs.
The rise of Chinese medical tourists in overseas destinations is also an indication of this. Global Growth Markets estimates that there will be 900,000 outbound medical tourists from China by 2020, looking for minor treatments such as cosmetic surgery and health checks.
On the other hand, more visitors are also recognising China’s deep roots in health and wellness. Examples include vegetarianism, which is traditionally associated with Buddhism and Taoism, and the mainstream marketing of Chinese spiritual cuisine. Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, for instance, serves a menu that follows Taoism’s principles of establishing a yin-yang balance to promote health and longevity.
Nutrition gets personalised
While the laser focus on dietary restrictions can be exhausting for event planners, the rise of alternative diets cannot be ignored. And as much as personalisation is a given at events, food is a big part of that.
According to the report, personalized nutrition is big business, and estimates say the market will reach upwards of US$11.5 billion by 2025. A good example of that is the explosion of gluten-free products in the market, which were non-existent a decade ago. In 2017, the global market for gluten-free products was valued at over US$4.7 billion.
In Singapore, tech company Smartfuture is bringing personalised health into the workplace. The company has plans to install 20,000 health check-up kiosks in offices by the end of 2019, measuring key health metrics like BMI, blood pressure and blood glucose. Based on results, workers will receive personalised diet and fitness recommendations as well as the option to consult with a wellness expert over the phone or in their homes.
Like it or not, simply offering ‘chicken or fish’ options isn’t going to cut it anymore.