A newly released survey has found that 73% of travel agents report that their bookings to hotel, resort and destination spas showed growth in 2013. The findings were released by Spafinder Wellness 365 in its annual “State of Spa Travel” report. The report — now in its seventh year — was developed to provide annual insight into the health of, and emerging consumer trends in, the North American spa travel market.
Along with discovering that travel agency spa business grew in 2013, the report also shed light on the evolving spa traveller demographic, revealing that “women travelling with other women” represents the number one way people now journey to spas, and that Gen X is slowly overtaking Baby Boomers as the age group most likely to book spa travel.
The findings are based on a survey of over 300 North American travel agents completed in Q4 2013.
Mia Kyricos, Spafinder Wellness, Inc.’s chief brand officer, observed: “This new data provides fresh evidence that what we’ve been hearing about the growth of the wider wellness tourism category is undeniably true. And it also proves that spa travel is on the rise in North America, which is the now the world’s largest wellness travel market, generating over 40% of the total dollars spent in that global segment.”
The study’s top findings included:
- Last year’s survey revealed that 2012 was a rebound year for spa travel after the long recession: 68% of travel agents reported growth, up from 37% in 2011. But in 2013 agents report even more momentum: 73% of U.S. and Canadian agents experienced growth in spa property bookings last year, while another 23% say they remained about the same as in 2012.
- Despite economic and travel market recovery, a strong “deal culture” seems to be a permanent fixture of the hotel/resort spa market — continued great news for consumers. Thirty-two percent of agents report that global resort/destination spas were actually more aggressive with special pricing/packages in 2013 over 2012, with 53% claiming that the spa deals continue just as strong as in 2012. (Only 15% report declines).
- Wellness-obsessed Baby Boomers (now aged 49 to 68) fuelled the wider spa revolution and have for years represented the main spa travelling demographic. For 2013 agents reported that the number one age group most likely to book spa travel is 46 to 55 (the very youngest Boomers), followed very closely by those aged 36 to 45 (Gen-Xers). Also significant: the very young, 26 to 35-year-old group now trumps those over 65 (which includes the eldest Boomers) for spa bookings. As demographic groups age, the story of who is in their peak earning/spending years is also naturally re-written.
- For the first time the survey asked agents how spa-goers most typically travel, and they reported that women travelling together ranked number 1 by solid margins. This was followed by a woman travelling with a man; women travelling solo; families/intergenerational groups; men travelling solo; and men travelling together.
- Agents reported on what spa programming now matters most to clients, and “traditional pampering” retained its number 1 spot for the seventh straight year (important to 96%). But in 2013 there was notably more parity in traveller demand for other key spa elements: agents reported that health/wellness offerings like exercise and weight loss are now important to 84%, mind-body-spirit programming is important to 68%, and nature/adventure experiences like hiking, water sports, etc. are sought by 67%. So, for the first time, agents claimed that all four, key spa components were important to at least two-thirds of their clients: further evidence that the spa traveller increasingly seeks comprehensive, integrative wellness options at destinations, mixed with “pure pampering.”
The survey also found that an overwhelming majority (75%) of North American agents see wellness tourism as a distinctly rising travel trend, with 22% indicating it continues just as strong as in the past.
Kyricos said: “We’re grateful for the insights into booking trends from travel agents who help us to understand the changing profile of today’s spa traveller as well as the new destinations and programming they now most seek.”
Go to http://www.spafinder.com for more.