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Global research

Tour de force

WeTravel surveyed nearly 200 travel businesses to find out more about booking trends for 2023. Kasi McGurk highlights the growth in wellness tours and retreats

Women are increasingly bringing their male partners to retreats shutterstock/Ground Picture
Today’s travellers are bringing wellness on holiday shutterstock/Ground Picture
45% of respondents are increasing their retreat group sizes shutterstock/PeopleImages.com - Yuri A

Traditionally, a vacation meant ditching your restrictive diet and your step-counting watch; however, travellers are now bringing their self-improvement and wellbeing techniques as travel companions.

In 2022, WeTravel surveyed nearly 200 travel businesses to inquire about booking trends for 2023. More than 30 per cent of respondents operate wellness tours and retreats. From spa owners to retreat organisers, here’s what the survey found.

Wellness travel is: everywhere
The industry was upscaling and over-customising, not only in the typical luxury hot spots like Europe and the Caribbean, but across the globe.

In our last survey in 2019, the travel businesses surveyed by WeTravel said Europe and North America were their most-popular travel destinations for wellness-specific offerings. However, in 2023, Asia — which accounted for less than 2 per cent of wellness travel bookings in 2019 — accounts for more than 10 per cent of all wellness bookings, with South America also noting a similar increase in wellness travellers.

As the top-two growth continents in the world for wellness experiences, what the data tells us is that wellness travel is spreading across the globe – with tropical and exotic destinations growing their luxury experiences.

Wellness travel is: for everyone
In 2023, WeTravel found that travellers aged 31 to 45 represent 61 per cent of the wellness segment bookings, followed by travellers aged 46 to 60, representing 33 per cent of all bookings. The 46+ segment increased nearly 10 per cent compared with 2019.

However, what the data also shows is that wellness travel is being booked by all age demographics. And while women account for nearly 70 per cent of all wellness travel bookings, they’re most commonly booking for more than one traveller, which often includes a partner.

While wellness retreats have often been about retreating to reset, more wellness experiences are being held in groups. In 2023, more than 45 per cent of respondents said they’re increasing their group sizes per trip to between 11 and 20 people, as more travellers seeking wellness experiences are looking for community-oriented activities.

Wellness travel is: individualised
In 2023, WeTravel’s report found that 90 per cent of wellness travel experiences are retreats that are being customised for travellers – which is a 14 per cent increase compared with 2019. In the industry, customisation is less about changing an existing tour or retreat and more about enhancing the experience.

Of the enhancements being made to the tours and retreats, 82 per cent of travellers are looking for special activities and excursions — like a private hike in the Amazon after a luxurious spa morning. Other enhancements include private transportation (42 per cent) and extra days (38 per cent). Compared with 2019, customising special activities and private transportation have increased by nearly 20 per cent.

From customisation to group travel, wellness travel is changing in a post-pandemic era. However, wellness businesses surveyed by WeTravel expect to have an average of nearly 60 per cent revenue growth by 2023, as more packages and tours are being offered – and travellers are increasingly seeking wellness experiences over packaged holidays.

Photo: wetravel
About the author:

Kasi McGurk is the global PR and brand manager for WeTravel

About WeTravel:

WeTravel is a booking and payments platform for multi-day travel businesses. It is the world’s largest integrated platform to market, manage and monetise trips, and is used by thousands of wellness retreat companies.

Originally published in Spa Business Handbook 2023 issue 1
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