While certain wellness travel trends are on the rise, like sound therapy, they won't drive more bookings as long as the coronavirus is a threat. Wellness travel, along with the rest of the industry, will need to hold tight and hope the outbreak gets under control.
Right now — for good reason — the coronavirus is all anyone can talk about. Just walking around my neighborhood in Munich, Germany, I can feel the nervous energy, as people stockpile cans of beans and loaves of bread, and stores run out of hand soap and paper towels.
In the luxury and wellness travel space, there’s a lot to be anxious about. Just this week, luxury travel agency group Virtuoso postponed its annual symposium in Vienna, and the U.S. is expected to see a 6 percent drop in inbound travel over the next three months. Even SoulCycle announced it would honor late cancellations for customers not feeling well. There will likely be fewer people booking wellness retreats during this time, especially if there’s a known outbreak nearby — because it’s kind of hard to unwind if you’re worried about the person coughing next to you in yoga class. And luxury travelers will probably postpone trips if they know there’s a risk where they’re going.
In theory, wellness travel could be an antidote to all this tension. As Skift contributor Laura Powell notes in her latest feature, sound healing has been used since ancient times as a way to relieve stress and bring balance back to the body — exactly the kind of treatment most of us worried-sick people could use right about now. There’s a chance people living in cities without outbreaks may feel comfortable booking staycations and taking advantage of good deals on these calming wellness offerings.
Still, that’s a best-case scenario for the wellness travel sector, as most travelers hoping to stay healthy will probably stay home, at least until concerns over the coronavirus fizzle out. Like the rest of the hospitality industry, wellness travel operators will be holding their breath — and not shaking hands.
— Leslie Barrie, Luxury & Wellness Editor
5 looks at luxury & wellness
How Hyatt’s Miraval Resorts and Others Are Tuning In to Sound Healing: If you have been noticing more spas offering treatments that incorporate Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, or gongs, you aren’t alone. Sound therapies are starting to make waves in the spa industry.
Aman Expands in New Direction With Launch of Community-Focused Luxury Brand: Aman launches a new sister brand. The opportunity? To give creative class travelers more connected and social experiences while in the familiar aesthetic considerations (and a lower price point) of the elder sister brand Aman. Right now it’s all theoretical, but the rationale is rock solid.
Marriott Is Already Reopening China Hotels During Coronavirus Crisis: Marriott was already having trouble in Asia-Pacific in 2019 before the coronavirus impact hit. The company isn’t forecasting a major impact outside of Asia, and it’s already reopening hotels inside China. It pays to collect fees — and not actually own or run hotels — during a crisis like this.
Millennial Parent Travelers Set Themselves Apart From Peers Without Kids: Skift Research: Millennial parents have a lot in common with their generational peers without kids, but they also have some unique travel preferences and values. Their impact on the family travel segment is just beginning.
Travel Megatrends 2020: The Rise of Ultra-Long-Haul Flights Is Changing the Way We Travel: Connecting to the ends of the Earth with nonstop flights is an increasingly attractive prospect for flyers. The growing popularity of nearly day-long flights, however, is set to disrupt the economics of the airline business. Adapting will be crucial as demand from the travel industry grows.
Leslie Barrie [[email protected]] curates the Skift Luxury & Wellness Travel Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.
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Photo credit: Luxury wellness resorts are offering more sound therapy treatments — but in this coronavirus era, there may not be as much of a demand. Miraval Resort & Spa