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Should You Provide Wellness Tourism Services?

Wellness tourism is on the rise. In this blog, we discuss what wellness tourism is and what it isn’t. Furthermore, we provide a few examples of existing retreats and finally discuss the advantages you can reap from investing in the sector or including a wellness adaptation to your existing destination.

What is Wellness Tourism?

According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), wellness tourism is “travel (that is) associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing“. Often confused with medical tourism, wellness tourism is not concerned with combatting poor health or curing illnesses but is the proactive measure of preventing diseases, reducing stress, and promoting overall wellbeing.

Examples of Existing Wellness Tourism Attractions

Below are a few short descriptions of wellness tourism attractions.

Sand Baths

Under the hot sun of the Moroccan desert, with sand temperatures reaching 80° C, wellness tourists bury themselves neck-deep into the sand in search of health benefits. The heat of the dry sand absorbs any excess moisture in the body, cleansing the body and removing any toxins in the process. The baths or “hammams” are also known to cure joint pains and help with bone diseases.

Walking Yoga Safaris

These occur either in the wilderness of African game park reserves or in concealed remote village outskirts. Walking Yoga Safaris are usually full-day activities that center around meditation and yoga amid natural elements. Travelers are enveloped in togetherness with the life they feel around them, be it greenery or wild animals. 

The day starts with a sunrise meditation session around a natural landmark (a riverbank, the African savannah, or a lakeside). Then, a light breakfast is had followed by a walk into the wilderness accompanying wildlife tracking experts. Later as the weather becomes hot, the guests are led back to their cottages for lunch and some rest. 

In the early evening, visitors embark on another yoga/meditation session. Afterwards, they embark on another guided walk into nature and conclude by watching the sunset and gathering around a fire to chat and watch the stars after dark.

Nordic Wellness Retreats

Drawing from the ancient wisdom of Nordic culture, Nordic wellness retreats aim to connect the mind and body with nature. Found all over Europe and not just Nordic countries, programs include various activities such as hiking in the forests, saunas, hot tubs, and lake swims, paired with the healing capabilities of traditional treatments, wild forage, and fresh game meals. 

Individuals can engage in group activities and retreats or isolate themselves and enjoy the region’s vast and open, quiet spaces. The latter option is made abundantly available in the private island cabins of Sweden, where individuals have a whole mini-island to themselves. Furthermore, with the rise of the Wim Hof wellness program, individuals opting for a Nordic retreat may have the chance of meeting the Iceman himself and learning straight from the source about the now popular breathing and ice-emersion techniques.

The Value of the Wellness Tourism Sector and the Wellness Tourist

Combining the buying power of the highly profitable tourism and wellness industries, wellness tourism is a force to be reckoned with. Between 2015 to 2017, the growth rate of wellness tourism was twice the growth rate of regular tourism. The industry is still rapidly growing and is predicted to reach $919 billion this year, according to the GWI.

Furthermore, the wellness traveler is known to be a high spending traveler type. According to the Director of Research at GWI, Beth McGroarty, wellness travelers spend 178% more than the average traveler on domestic trips and 53% more on international trips.

Equinox Explore, Equinox’s brand extension into the wellness tourism sector, provided a four-day running tour in Florence for a cost that began at $2,350 in 2020. This was the cheapest of the experiences offered by the company then. The most expensive experience for that year was a six-day hiking trip in Morocco which started at $6,250.

Shifts in the Travel Industry

Destinations are beginning to employ a strategy that attracts a reasonable number of wellness tourists at high holiday prices instead of the large crowds of average tourists typically needed to drive profits. Doing this reduces the adverse effects of mass tourism. It prevents the race-to-the-bottom style pricing strategies that occur when businesses have to compete for a travelers patronage of their product or service. 

Furthermore, wellness offshoots can be set up in a primary leisure location (for example) as a secondary attraction to attract visitors in low-traffic seasons. A ski resort, for instance, would reap the benefits of setting up spas and mountain yoga retreats in the summer seasons. Thus, making business out of their downtime.

Wellness Traveler Demographics and Categories

Even though wellness travelers can embody many different demographics, the majority seem to be higher educated and affluent females between the ages of 30 and 60 years in age. A further categorization divides these travelers into two divisions—primary wellness travelers, who travel solely for the purpose of wellness. And secondary wellness travelers who travel for leisure or business and happen to make wellness pit stops. The groups, however, are not mutually exclusive. For example, a primary wellness traveler can be a secondary wellness traveler on their current trip, and then become a primary wellness traveler on the next. However, it’s worth noting that primary wellness travelers account for only 14% of wellness tourism spending, whereas secondary wellness travelers make up for 86%.

Wellness Tourism and Complementary Business Opportunities

Wellness travelers (especially seasoned ones) usually uphold a certain kind of lifestyle. A lifestyle that involves specific dietary makeup, mind/body activities, and at times even fashion attire. Therefore, when a wellness traveler engages in a holiday in your destination, they not only put money into the retreat’s pocket. But they also help by contributing to the country’s/region’s GDP through purchases they make to maintain their lifestyle. This opens the door for destinations and surrounding businesses to capture more value from the wellness traveler by delivering more differentiated and targeted products and services.

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and destination representation company in the Middle East. We specialize in directing the Arab traveler to your destination or region. With over 60 years of experience in the field of travel representation, we’ve solidified a sturdy network of travel agencies, airlines, hotels and much more. With our electric mix of marketing activities, there isn’t a surer way to attract Arab travelers. 

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at sammy@gulfreps.com

2022 Travel Trends

As travel becomes more accessible for fully vaccinated travelers this year, destinations are expecting a boost in visitors and a range of changes to travel habits that are going to be unique to 2022. In this blog, we outline these changes and give you our thoughts on 2022 travel trends

Note: The travel landscape is still uncertain with the start-stop nature that we have become accustomed to still somewhat present. It is, therefore, wise for travelers to only purchase vacations that are refundable or ones that contain free date changes.

Without further ado, here are the 2022 travel trends:

2022 Travel Trends

Once in a Lifetime Trips, Splurgecations, and Reunions

Once in a lifetime, trips will be the main highlight of 2022. With the future still ambiguous, individuals want to tick things off their bucket list and make up for lost time. In that regard and according to Essentialist, African safaris and Asian destinations will be the top destinations. The once-in-a-lifetime theme also has some heavy “splurgecation” connotations tied to it. That is, the instances where vacationers are going to spend extravagantly is expected to be incredibly high.

Further to the above, travelers will be more daring with the activities they engage in. Whether sleeping under a starry sky, traveling alone, engaging in an adrenaline-filled activity, or having an unforgettable night out — travelers want to engage their senses fully this year. Travelers will still document their vacation so that it can be broadcasted on social media. But, travelers want to be more present this time around. This new wave of enlightened travelers was birthed during pandemic days where isolation and the digital world were the constants. The tangible real world is now the traveler’s salvation and they intend to experience the best there is when it comes to sensory pleasure and experiences that can drive them closer to the present moment.

Individuals are now not so hesitant to visit large cities instead of the usual exclusive and isolated experiences. Instead, what is becoming key is the experience that is offered by the destination and the uniqueness that envelops it. This ties further to the previous point as individuals decide not to seek only picture-perfect destinations but an actual experience.

Moreover, the pandemic has also directed the stage lights towards what’s truly important to people: their family and loved ones. As such, reunion trips are expected to spike. Add to that all the pent-up wanderlust and adventure-seeking that regular travelers have been holding on to, and you have a recipe for extravagant once-in-a-lifetime reunions.

Pindrop Travel

Inverse to the city travel trend and according to a recent survey conducted by Original Travel, the need for peace and quiet is near to unanimous among travelers. As such, the brand pioneered a new itinerary called Pindrop Travel. The idea is simple: destinations so peaceful and quiet you can hear a pin drop. The itinerary boasts selections from remote living areas to exquisite and isolated vegetative landscapes (such as the Princess Mononoke Forest of Japan) and isolated yoga retreats in the mountains. Pindrop travel and services similar to it are expected to attract many patrons this year.

Work Aways and Wellness Retreats

Similar to the previous section, but not quite so. Due to the wide acceptance of remote work brought on by the pandemic “Work Away” holidays or working remotely while in a vacation destination are projected to become widespread. Fast Wi-Fi and self-catered accommodations are the go-to key package features for those aiming to attract this segment. 

As millions of people worldwide began to quit their jobs and pursue new career paths during the pandemic, a journey of self-development and self-discovery was (and still is) being embarked on en masse. This trend has given fuel to the rising flame of self-development tourism and wellness tourism.

Multiple Trips and Longer Stays

Another trend from Discover the World states that travelers are going to spend exponentially more time on a trip but decrease the number of times they go on trips. As such, slow travel packages that cater to this increasing need will yield good results for the destination marketer and the traveler who wants to deeply familiarize themselves with a destination. Therefore, month-long packages with self-catering accommodation options will become a widespread reality this year. 

Similar to the above point, another expected trend is that people will hit many destinations in one vacation to make up for previous vacations not taken.

Aviation Trend

According to many aviation industry experts, it will take global aviation at least two more years before it resumes to its normal pre-pandemic state. Enter the rise of private jet flights. Those who have tried private flights during 2021 for the first time are likely to continue to do so this year. Not only does this minimize the risk of infection, but the bespoke fashion that the service is offered by helps in streamlining the ever-changing country entry requirement processes brought on by the pandemic.

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East, with over 60 years of regional and industry experience. We have served clients on six continents, delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships, and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at sammy@gulfreps.com

5 Reasons travel marketing campaigns fail

Once upon a time, firearms just weren’t that reliable. You’d load your gun, pull the trigger and be summarily shot in the face. The term used to describe this undesirable, albeit accidental, phenomenon is called “backfire”. It happens in marketing too, where groupthink, overzealous leadership, an over-ambitious agency or just plain ignorance produces marketing campaigns that have the world making this emoji face: 🤔. In this post, we’ll explore the top 5 reasons travel marketing campaigns fail and how to avoid them. 

1. Honesty

“Aleppo is a lively bustling city, with beautiful scenic walks, exquisite architecture and a history to die for.” Well, this is technically true, but it is also war-torn, militia filled and frankly the worlds most dangerous city. All marketing is based on relative truth. Not to say that marketers lie, but the truth can often not be explained in 5 words. For example, “Head and Shoulders will clear your dandruff in 7 days”. This is a relative truth. It’s not an absolute truth. The absolute truth is “If you use head and shoulders every day for at least 7 days, but more likely 10 days, then there is a high probability that your dandruff will disappear, but if you stop using head and shoulders after this time, it is almost guaranteed that your dandruff will re-appear”. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Absolutely truth, or relative truth, it doesn’t matter, just don’t LIE. The tiny country of Lithuania learned this lesson the hard way, when they launched their $150,000 “Real is Beautiful” campaign, only to use stock imagery of other Nordic and eastern European countries in the campaign. There’s no relativity there – that’s just a lie. 

2. Travel marketing campaigns fail: Inappropriate Targetting

One of the main reasons travel marketing campaigns fail is inappropriate targeting. Who do you actually want to visit your destination? Often the response will be “everyone”. But that’s not actually true, “everyone” is a pretty massive concept in marketing, because it includes all the good people, and frankly all the bad people too. If you’re marketing a quaint scenic village in the Swiss Alps, you don’t want stag parties from the UK arriving at your destination. Taking the time to appropriately target your prospective visitor is critical to ensuring the results you’re looking for from your destination marketing campaign. But equally important is to look at all the different segments that you’ll be targetting and ask the question: “Do these individual segments work well together?” 

3. Bad Timing

Much like comedy, marketing is all about timing. However, we’re not after hilarious results. The timing of campaigns can be extremely difficult to judge. There are standard awareness days, cultural holidays, religious holidays, political and sporting events that marketers can navigate around, but what about the one-off sudden events? Every campaign should have a contingency plan, bracing themselves for the “what-if” scenarios. Whilst it’s easy enough to pause digital campaigns, outdoor, events and other campaigns can be more challenging, which is why it’s critical to have these “what-if” plans in place. 

4. Bad Taste

Some campaigns are just…. Bad. The challenge that faces travel marketing is a unique one. A destination may be being promoted by an agency in their own country around the globe. The problem with this is that what is seen as funny in some countries is seen as downright distasteful in others. 

5. Cultural Insensitivity

Finally, cultural sensitivity. Much like ads that are in bad taste, cultural sensitivity is critical when trying to attract visitors from certain regions. The long white vales worn by Arab men may seem amusing to you, but in this region, they have both culturally and practical applications. Even small details such as the destain shown by some in this region when the soles of the feet are shown in an advert are something you couldn’t possibly be expected to know unless you’re a regional expert. That’s why we pride ourselves in our 60 years of regional expertise and know that when we deliver campaigns for our clients we are hitting all the right buttons and none of the wrong ones.

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.