The wellness tourism is now a $639 billion industry. This begins to point us in the direction of traveler & guest desires, but the word wellness can lead to restrictive thinking. What comes to mind when I say wellness? Did you get images of yoga, smoothies, or maybe essential oils floating into your head?
There's nothing wrong with creating an experience with wellness in mind, but it forces the experience designer into a very traditional path. Wellbeing, on the other hand, is a much more expansive and holistic take on helping people feel good. Wellbeing encourages us to look at the variety of ways that people achieve peace of mind, joy, confidence, greater on, etc. - not just health on a physical level.
This increase in spending coincides with the World Health Organization officially recognized burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019. Burnout, resulting in increased feelings of negativism or cynicism, is not something that can be healed alone with a healthy meal.
If we look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as it relates to wellness vs. wellbeing, we see that wellness activities are really catering to our lowest level needs: physiological & atmosphere needs, security, safety, & health needs.
Wellbeing on the other hand is more concerned with belonging, connection, culture, esteem, trust, freedom, purpose, values, and self-fulfillment. These are our psychological and emotional needs that experiencing new things can absolutely satisfy. As you climb up the pyramid, you begin to get into transformational travel territory. And what constitutes a transformative experience can be defined by each individual based on their values, passions, and aspirations.
This opens up a world of possibilities for hospitality properties to put the needs of their guests first without feeling like they need to build a spa or pander to a very 'health conscious' traveler. Because wellbeing is relevant to EVERYONE.
Here's a helpful way to look at wellbeing to assist in reframing what really matters to the modern-day hospitality guest. It's called the Wellbeing Trifecta, created by The Storied Experience creative directors and guest experience advisors. When properties strike a balance within their experience between moments of immersion, play, and retreat, they are creating valuable, feel-good moments for their guests that go beyond the standard and expected.