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GSWS 2014 predicts ten future factors to affect the spa industry

by Helen Andrews | 18 Sep 2014

Delegates from over 45 nations gathered at the eighth annual Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) in Marrakech, Morocco last week, to discuss the future of the US$3.4tn (€2.6tn, £2.1tn) global wellness industry.

On the second day of the Summit, 12 September, it was revealed that the GSWS 2015 will be held in Mexico City, Mexico, and it will be co-chaired by Gina Diez Barroso de Franklin, CEO of Grupo Diarq and Alfredo Carvajal, COO at WTS International. Carvajal's appointment as vice chair was announced that day.

Talks held during the 2014 Summit focused on ten major global trends that are set to impact the industry in the future. These discussion topics ranged from how design and architecture will influence sustainability, as well as the user’s experience, to the effect that technology will have on human interaction.

• Danish maverick architect Bjarke Ingels signalled it was time for an architecture and design reboot. He informed delegates that they have a responsibility to change the spaces we live in and he discouraged the uptake of commonplace Asian-influenced spa design and menus.

• The rise of millennials has increased the need for ‘can’t get anywhere else’ experiences, according to Peter Greenberg, CBS travel editor: “Generic luxury no longer satisfies most of us; there is a growing desire to find the heartbeat of a place and culture and then share it with the rest of the world on social networks.” Greenberg added that social networks provide a competitive “experience one-upmanship”, which he believes that traditional marketing can’t achieve. Thus, the experience itself markets the destination nowadays.

• Personalised genetic testing will allow people to predict health issues and prevent them, according to Dr Nasim Ashraf of DNA Health Corp. “Epigenetic testing is essentially the science of outsmarting your genes,” Ashraf said. This method of testing is already being performed at medical and destination spas around the world.

• Spa and wellness marketers have been urged to cast a wider net by focusing more on emerging generations including millennials and Generation Z – the first to have never lived without the influences of social media and technology. Not only are young people a key demographic for the spa market, but a massive demographic shift from male to female is also occurring – due in part to their longer lives and increasing wealth and education, according to Kjell Nordstrom, the Swedish economist and co-author of Funky Business.

• Nordstrom also told delegates that the futures will have a marked move away from suburbanisation to urbanisation and in 2030, 90 per cent of all people will live in urban settings. Inhabitants of a highly urbanised world will crave nature, simplicity but also extreme fitness, beauty and wellness, said Nordstrom.

• 30 years from now, 60 per cent of households will be single, according to Nordstrom's third trend forecast at the summit. He believes people will begin to die of loneliness, rather than old age, due to urbanisation, technology and demographic shifts that are emphasising an overarching sense of ‘aloneness’. He hopes spas will help to abate this loneliness.

• Governments and companies across the world are embracing the concept of wellness tourism, coined less than a year ago by SRI International. This key market segment is worth an estimated value of US$494 billion (€382bn, £302bn) and growth of 12.5 per cent year-on-year.

• The Summit predicts Africa will be at the heart of a wellness tourism explosion, with spa revenue on the continent already on the rise. New data shows a 186 per cent growth from 2007 to 2013 in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development (SMIT) has focused on its spa and wellness market and has US$253m (€195m, £155m) in annual spa revenues.

• Retail and marketing expert Paul Price warned delegates not to allow technology to drive decision-making. He said technology departments should be driven by marketers and not the other way around. At some point - amid the development of new currencies, 3D printing delivering products on demand and an information overload - people will look for a health and wellness option to simplify choices.

Wellness communities are also expected to take off in the form of mixed-use properties, such as a new sustainable project in Serenbe, a community outside Atlanta, US, which focuses on organic farming, culture and green building. Delos’ WELL Building Standard – informed by seven ‘wellness’ aspects: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind – is being embraced by the mainstream medical community. Delos has teamed with the Mayo Clinic on a Well Living Lab, whose research will explore the interaction between health, wellness and the building environment.

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FEATURE: Industry insights – Forums For Change

Delegates from over 45 nations gathered at the eighth annual Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) in Marrakech, Morocco last week, to discuss the future of the US$3.4tn (€2.6tn, £2.1tn) global wellness industry. On the second day of the Summit, 12 September, it was revealed that the GSWS 2015 will be held in Mexico City, Mexico, and it will be co-chaired by Gina Diez Barroso de Franklin, CEO of Grupo
Bjarke Ingels, architect and founding partner of Bjarke Ingels Group said Asian-themed spas have had their day / GSWS 2014
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