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SpaFinder Announces Its 2010 Trend Predictions

Posted: December 9, 2009

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7) Wellness tourism wows. We’re familiar with people seeking spas for wellness and also with medical tourism, crossing borders for medical procedures such as plastic surgery, dentistry, knee replacements and so on. Well, make room for wellness tourism, a new term describing travel across borders for preventive services, diagnostics, spa and well-being vacations, even stem cell banking. The concept not only dramatically broadens the appeal of the medical tourism model, which has suffered from its narrow association with plastic surgery, it’s increasingly poised to become the way we define our time away from home and work in the future.

8) Scary and silly spa stories drive evidence, science and standards. The fallout from heavily publicized spa horror stories and the recession-driven consumer insistence on no-gimmick treatments with real, measurable benefits will quicken a rising industry trend: the demand for evidence-based therapies, stricter industry standards, and greater transparency/resources to help spa-goers separate the wheat from the chaff. As spas move into the health and wellness sectors, facts, evidence and science that support industry approaches will move front and center, even at the cost of a few diamond facials.

9) Diversity at a tipping point. For years analysts have discussed how the spa industry has been attracting new demographics such as men, teens, seniors and new ethnic groups. But in 2010 diversity has reached a tipping point: It has fully arrived, and it’s here to stay. Spa-going has become so mainstream that the face of the spa-goer will now continue to reflect the wider global population. Every spa region has its unique diversity story, and around the globe far more men, younger and older generations, and ethnic groups are hitting the spa. And spas are taking note, with offerings that cater to these diverse groups’ needs and wants. Set to explode: In the U.S. alone, where approximately 78 million baby boomers are poised to enter their 60s, watch for silver spa-ing to really take off.

10) Stillness. The modern human experience is an unprecedented amount of sensory overload, noise and media stimulation. We’re wired to the gills, spending nearly all waking hours in front of TV and computer screens—bombarded, texting, tweeting, clattering away, now even on airplanes. With the spa as one of the last remaining sanctuaries of silence and serenity, look for the industry to put a new emphasis on stillness, on slowness and on silence. From totally silent massages/treatments or using white noise and subtle nature sounds instead of music; to silent walks, hikes, and dinners at Red Mountain or Rancho La Puerta; to Six Senses Spas’ focus on a Slow Life approach; to an upswing in meditation offerings and programs, spas will help clients move from busy-ness and overload to quiet, to stillness. Sounds awfully good.

Bonus trend: Celebrating celebration. In a recent survey, travel agents reported the No. 1 emerging spa travel trend was people increasingly hitting stay spas for special occasions like big birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, retirement parties and so on. And after the severe downturn in spas' corporate/meetings business, which, because of virtual conferencing, will continue to decline, the industry is aggressively incentivizing group celebration travel to revitalize lost business. This concept was born at the day spa, with its long tradition of bachelorette, graduation and “girlfriend” parties, and its rapid migration into the travel arena in 2010 is one great reason for the industry to celebrate.