Exploring Consulting Best Practices Initiative Trends 2023
More and more, spas are becoming a unique, social gathering space—especially after the pandemic. The same is apparent in the hotel industry, which is adopting design changes to accommodate this new trend. This movement toward group wellness is also spurring an increase in traditional and indigenous ceremonies. Also, more organizations are leveraging the data we generate with fitness apps to create a more personalized experience and the spa experience is undergoing a transformation in what people expect from it. Gone are the days of a brief reprieve. People now crave long-lasting change. Leaders are recognizing that the wellbeing of their staff is critical in and of itself and as a means to provide an exceptional customer experience. Many best-in-class hotels and spas are catering to the rising interest in sports by providing features and amenities better than many gyms. All of these improvements for the customers have led to increased reliance on expert consultants to help carry out their vision.
TREND 1: Social Spa-ing
As if we had not always known it: man is a social being. The pandemic years with their “social distancing” have made this even clearer. Humans crave social contact with others, shared experiences and lively and thought-provoking exchanges. This need for togetherness can extend to spa and wellness areas, and affect design and programming. Group visits to the spa and wellness activities are increasing; interactive sauna and Aufguss ceremonies with more than 50 people are not uncommon, and gatherings of friends, and also businesses, are utilizing spas for retreat-type experiences, combining spa and wellness treatments with relaxation time as a team-building activity. This trend is affecting design, incorporating larger areas of flexible space into spas, potentially even those that can be closed off. This provides privacy for a larger group who may want to combine a meeting with wellness, and also presents an opportunity for space rental income, especially in stand-alone spas.
This sense of belonging is extending to the entire hospitality world. Hotels are responding to this need by engaging with their local communities. From large lobbies filled with comfortable seating and ample Wi-Fi, to discounts and events targeting the local community, hotels are looking beyond simply boosting room revenue. By fostering a sense of togetherness and shared values, hotels are transforming into hubs that nurture connections and forge lasting relationships and play a prominent role in the life of the communities they serve.
TREND 2: Indigenous Therapies
Particularly in the US and Latin America, there is an increasing consumer interest in traditional indigenous healing methods such as Copal cleansing, Temescal, and Ayahuasca, Fire, and Cacao ceremonies. But services utilizing traditional, regional healing methods are also on the rise again in the rest of the world. They are seen as valuable, evidence-based methods, typically incorporating natural herbs, botanicals and remedies that either need to be rediscovered or saved from oblivion. Indigenous therapies can also be performed in countries other than the ones of origin, provided they are carried out as authentically as possible and not just as a Disneyland copy. It can be very enjoyable for guests, especially in hotel spas, to satisfy their sense of adventure by trying something they’d never see on the spa menu at home.
TREND 3: Biohacking and Hyper Personalisation
One-size-fits-all treatments were yesterday. Today, treatments are highly valued when they are as as tailored as possible. It’s no longer just about writing the client’s first name on the bottle of skin serum, but actually putting together the contents of the bottle in a targeted and bespoke manner. Now that a majority of clients are wearing fitness and wellness trackers and collecting data on their movement, eating and sleeping habits, the natural next step is to build on that data to create personalized programming. Additionally, technology advancements have made devices such as LED lighting, binaural audio and far-infrared mats, to name a few, smaller and more affordable for use in wellness settings.
From biohacking methods to customized programs based on DNA analysis, wellness treatments and programs are becoming more and more personalized and distinctive.
TREND 4: Transformative Experiences
Wellness is increasingly understood by guests as what it was originally meant to be—a a way to lead a health and enjoyable life according to one’s potential. The reality of life usually looks different and so many people have a desire for change, for transformation, and are looking to spas to provide this extra spark. Wellness should no longer just be gentle and relaxing in a beautiful environment, it should not just be a “time out” from everyday life, but should actually inspire real and long-lasting change. Spa guests are willing to spend their discretionary income for opportunities to become a “better version” of themselves. These transformative experiences may be physical, mental or spiritual, and often include elements of each, fuelling the surge in interest in retreats globally.
TREND 5: Employee Wellbeing
The continued glaring shortage of skilled workers is leading to a paradigm shift in the spa and hotel world. It is no longer enough to offer competitive salaries, benefits and working conditions to find and keep employees. Increasingly, HR is also focusing on the physical and psychological wellbeing of employees. First and foremost, the hospitality industry is fundamentally a people business, and without dedicated and thriving individuals on our teams, success becomes an impossible goal. We are seeing hotels and wellness businesses that are prioritizing employee wellbeing and creating a workplace culture that fosters growth and happiness. Because one thing is clear: Staff who is supposed to look after the wellbeing of their guests must be able to feel good and be well themselves.
TREND 6: Sports, Spa & Hospitality
As highlighted in the 2023 Global Wellness Summit Trend report, hospitality, spa and wellness businesses continue to take the logical step of connecting to sporting activities in order to increase engagement and reach new audiences. In the US alone, it is estimated that over 230 million people participate in sporting and fitness activities, making this large cohort worth designing programming for. In addition to the SIRO brand opening soon in Dubai from Kerzner, Proper Hotels are providing workout classes from The Class, and Bahia Principe Caribbean resorts are adding pickleball courts. Hyatt brand 7PinesIbiza will feature visiting practitioner programs for this summer, including several experts on biomechanics and body sculpting. Wynn properties are providing in-room, 30-minute celebrity workout videos, and Equinox continues to set the pace by creating fitness spaces that have more features and amenities than many full-service gyms, such as in-locker chargers and an on-site valet to launder your gym attire. We believe we will continue to see momentum behind sports- and recovery-related design and programming in spa and hospitality venues.
TREND 7: The Consultants Perspective
Since businesses began reopening post-pandemic, in late 2020, spa and hospitality consultants have been busier than ever, as their clients seek to make long-needed improvements in their business model or infrastructure, and entrepreneurs want to get involved in businesses that embrace all things “wellness.” Following are some of the trends we are experiencing in our businesses:
- Spas and hotels are incorporating more outdoor space, natural elements and fresh air into new build design.
- Larger projects are engaging multiple consultants across disciplines, thus requiring a more collaborative approach.
- Flexibility in design components has become more important than ever, as we’ve discovered that long-term needs cannot always be anticipated.
- More clients are keeping consultants on long-term retainers as business advisors.
- Square footage dedicated to recovery and biohacking services is increasing.
- In response to the needs for flexible space and the introduction of new modalities, many spas, especially day spas, are foregoing dedicated men’s and women’s locker rooms in favor of multi-gender changing areas.