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SpaFinder Releases "State of Spa Travel" Survey Results

Posted: September 1, 2010

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And for first-half 2010, the modest economic recovery underway is reflected in the measurable, if similarly modest, gains in spa travel: 36% report spa travel has increased in the first six months of 2010; 39% claim it’s remained about the same; while 25% cite year-over-year declines. Compare that to the 58% of agents reporting declines in first-half 2009. The majority (52%) report the economic recovery is now having a direct, positive impact on spa travel bookings--and the optimism for full-year 2010 is higher: 61% predict overall growth this year, with only 7% expecting year-over-year declines.

A new season of “Let’s Make a Deal”

SpaFinder dubbed 2009 The Year of the Deal, but hotel, resort and destination spas are hardly hitting the brakes on special pricing/deals in the somewhat-improved 2010 economy. In fact, a surprising 44% of agents report even more aggressive spa travel deals in 2010 over 2009, while 48% report the bargains are holding firm. This industry “deal” strategy matches what consumers have been conditioned to expect: Agents report that the No. 1 change in spa travelers’ behavior in 2010 is “seeking significant deals,” followed by “opting for shorter vacations,” and “traveling closer to home.”

Price-per-night mirrors 2009

In 2009, agents reported that the most frequently booked price-per-night at spa destinations had trended down considerably, and in 2010, the numbers are nearly identical: 74% of spa travel booked now falls under $299 a night (identical with 2009), while 41% falls under $200.

Health and wellness travel continues surge

Sixty-six percent of agents (up from 52% last year) report their clients are showing a markedly increased interest in vacations with a dedicated health/wellness focus, such as hitting the spa to lose weight, or for fitness and yoga programs. Additionally, 88% of agents report that health/wellness offerings are now important to their clients (up from 83% in 2009). And for spa travelers, there’s no conflict between seeking “pampering” and “wellness,” with 96% of agents arguing that “traditional pampering” is important to spa travelers today. However, spa “spirituality offerings” seem to be declining in importance: Last year 70% of agents reported they were important to clients, but that number fell to 38% in 2010.

Top trends: “social spa-ing” parties on

Agents weighed in on which trends are exhibiting the most momentum in 2010, and “social spa-ing” ranked No. 1, just edging out “spa travel for wellness/health.” Traveling solo ranked third, spa travel by younger people (under 40) ranked fourth, and increased international spa travel ranked fifth.

Spa access remains No. 1 consideration for travelers