Industry Update
Opinion Article15 February 2019

Winning at Wellness in 2019: Five Rules for Succeeding

By Babs Harrison, Managing director of Phoenix based Babs Harrison and Partners

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Wellness is the word in today's hospitality as experts throw around immense numbers - the market size is said to be over $4 trillion! - and so in 2019 there is a stampede into wellness that is unlike anything we have seen before.


Everybody wants a piece of this action.

I cannot tell you how many wellness-related press releases and emails cross my desk in a given week, and I literally cannot tell you because I have ceased trying to keep up. Within a year most will be forgotten, just also-rans in a race that showed no mercy to the ill-prepared.

So you want to know how to be prepared? And how to win in the wellness battles ahead?

The formula for success gets ever clearer - if only because the missteps taken by the also-rans become ever more obvious in their clumsiness.

Just five rules will get you nearer the winner's circle.

But don't expect an easy journey. Success in wellness - with so much competition - means digging deep into what really matters, what consumers really want, and what's possible. This is a journey that will take you into quantum physics - and Tibetan chants, into the healing sounds of silence and the curative powers of mud.

There no longer are borders or boundaries. Not in the quest for wellness.

Personally I am just back from a 10-day trip to China - where I dug deeply into wellness - and I can tell you that the bar is getting raised, suddenly this has become a global competition and Confucius and I Ching play as much a role as ayurveda and also Rumi and herbal medicine and western medicine. That is rule one: think global. Those who succeed will bring a unified, holistic global vision of wellness because I am convinced that is what thought-leader consumers and influencers crave. Remember those three words: unified, holistic, global. Make them a personal mantra. And you will be taking big strides towards wellness success in 2019.

Rule two: authenticity matters in wellness. Bluntly put: Get real. Stay real. So many wellness business plans seem to be off-the-shelf binders cobbled together by replicants channeling the latest in artificial intelligence. They scramble to push all the right buttons of what interests us, but they do this without any real sense of what matters and without any sincere caring.

Be real. Make realistic promises. Don't swill snake oil. For centuries what's destroyed a lot of wellness initiatives is loss of credibility as the claims made got ever more incredible. Don't succumb to fantasy.

Stay real. Stay sincere. Stay honest. Those are paving stones on the path to wellness success.

Rule three: in China the founder of an innovative wellness program told me an intriguing idea. The creator's DNA is stamped on the program. That is, every real wellness initiative reflects its creator's dreams, hopes, wishes, and beliefs.

Of course there are committee-created programs but they lack soul in most cases. Real transformational personal change happens when a visionary creates a personal program. Word of advice: when whiteboarding a program make very sure there is a wellness visionary at the table. And listen to that person.

Rule four: stay open. We are in a phase of wellness where so many ideas are bubbling up. Be alert to ideas you want to incorporate in your own offerings. I know of many wellness offerings that were leading edge in 2009 - but a decade later they are relics sadly in need of updates. Be ready to grow, to learn, to adapt.

Wellness is moving at very fast speeds. Be ready for the race.

Rule five: wellness today is about results. This is such an important concept. Results have become crucial. Fifteen years ago it was mainly about feeling good - "pampering" guests - but no more. Today's consumer wants results, they want to be healthier, to look better, to be more creative, and they believe they can find what they are looking for in the right wellness venue.

Put another way: they are ready to do their part. If the program does its part. And between them they ought to produce success.

Success matters in today's wellness.

If your guests aren't succeeding - if they are not hitting their goals - you are failing. That is a 2019 reality. Accept it. And help your guests succeed. So that you may succeed.

Babs Harrison

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