6 min read
With wellness increasingly on the top of consumers' minds, we focus on some key wellness tech trends for tourism businesses to consider.
While tech has largely been a positive in our lives, catapulting forward our businesses and social lives, it has also had unintended consequences. With the pressure to always be connected, coupled with the uncertainty of the pandemic, we are now becoming more and more aware of the need to focus on our physical and mental health.
As a result, ‘wellness’, a concept that encompasses both our physical and mental wellbeing, is growing in popularity. People are seeking new ways to improve their wellbeing through better nutrition, an active lifestyle and how to introduce mindfulness habits into their daily routine. Meanwhile, businesses are more focused on helping their employees make healthier life choices and empowering them to improve their mental health.
For the travel sector, this means we are seeing an increase in travellers who want to maintain and potentially improve their healthy habits while travelling. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism is projected to hit $817 billion this year and grow to $1.3 trillion by 2025.
While in the past wellness tourism was primarily focused on spa treatments, the sector is now taking a more holistic approach including fitness, nutrition, and mental health. This is providing new opportunities for travel businesses to expand their services, attract new audiences, and increase their revenue.
Here are a few of the hottest wellness tech trends and best practices to integrate them into your business:
Calm and sleep technologies
Whether you are travelling for work or pleasure, there’s nothing you want more from your accommodation than a good night’s sleep. But travel can be extremely disruptive to many travellers' sleeping habits, whether they’re suffering from the effects of jet lag or the well-documented ‘First night sleep’ effect.
One study found that 79% of people find it difficult to sleep when travelling and 74% of business travellers miss their bed.
Not getting enough shuteye can put you in a bad mood, increase stress levels, make it difficult to think clearly, and make it harder to collaborate with others (all barriers to having a great vacation or a successful business trip). Indeed, as can be expected, a study by Harvard Business School found that guests who have a better night’s sleep are more likely to be satisfied with their overall stay at a hotel.
This means that helping your guests improve their sleep and relaxation can improve ratings and, in turn, help gain repeat customers. Beyond soft lighting and comfortable bed linens, how can the travel industry solve the age old good night’s sleep conundrum?
In the last few years meditation and mindfulness apps have exploded in popularity amongst consumers looking to improve their sleep habits and reduce stress. In the first quarter of 2021, the top two mindfulness apps, Headspace and Calm, reached over 10 million downloads worldwide. And the market is projected to grow with estimates predicting it will be valued at $4,377.95 million by 2027.
Major hotel chains are now using this technology to provide a more holistic sleep solution to their guests.
In 2020, Hyatt partnered with meditation app Headspace to offer free guided sleep and mindfulness exercises and soothing sounds via the hotel chain’s loyalty program app and dedicated TV channel. All Hyatt employees also receive a free subscription - happy employees mean happy guests.
Novotel teamed up with Calm in 2019, offering guests a free two month subscription to the app. Aside from meditation and soundscapes, Calm also offers ‘sleep stories’ told by famous actors in a soothing voice.
Hilton went a step further launching a new hotel brand, Tempo, aimed at the ‘overworked millennial’ with a complete focus on relaxation, including its own branded sleep and meditation content.
Airlines are also getting into the game. American Airlines started offering the Calm app on their domestic and international flight in 2018. Meanwhile, Delta and Qantas have developed their own in-flight apps.
Meditation and mindfulness options are also becoming popular features for MICE travel agents. Hyatt will offer the option to add Headspace access to event packages, making the meditation content available to conference and meeting attendees.
With the hospitality industry looking to bounce back after the pandemic, players will need to look for new, lean ways to increase their revenue per available guest (RevPAG). It just so happens the latest wellness trend could help to personalise and broaden your list of offerings.
The new buzzword in wellness, ‘Biohacking,’ represents a movement away from one-size-fits all treatments and towards body and mind enhancements tailored to each individual’s biology.
Equipped with guests’ DNA information, hospitality, MICE retreat organisers, and other venues can become ‘wellness curators,’ creating holistic and highly personalised programmes for each individual.
For example, Revivo Wellness Resort in Bali teamed up with DNA test provider, GenePlanet. With a simple cheek swab, guests interested in beauty treatments can get individualised advice on the best treatments, skincare rituals, cosmetics, and diets to achieve optimum skin health.
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is offering the myDNA Retreat which sends guests a DNA test kit one month prior to their visit. With the results, their team creates a personalised fitness routine, DNA backed food programme, and recommends three spa treatments tailored to the guest’s needs.
Iit is not just vacation travellers who are interested in biohacking programmes. With more discussions around workplace and employee wellness, the MICE industry is seeing more opportunities to provide corporate wellness retreat packages and wellness add-ons to event bookings.
Slate Resort in Phuket, for example, is offering a series of MICE packages which include a 20% discount at their spa and wellness healthcare facility. An interesting part of their offering includes a health & wellness checkup where guests can get tested for a number of different factors from anti-aging to food intolerances. With this checkup information, they can then receive advice on further treatments or specialised diets.
While it may not have featured prominently on your website previously, putting wellness services front and centre could attract the health-conscious traveller.
Dining meets foodtech
They say you are what you eat and indeed getting the right nutrition, just like sleep, is very important to feeling rested, focused, and ready to take the most out of your day. In fact there are a number of studies that show eating healthy boosts productivity and even happiness.
Being able to make healthy eating choices while away from home is important to both the health conscious traveller and businesses that want to help their employees and conference attendees feel fresh while travelling for work.
But what does healthy eating mean? In the world of wellness, fresh local produce, organic, farm to table, vegetarian and vegan options are the buzzwords to keep in mind.
The interesting thing for the travel sector is that offering more healthy food options can also help you reach your sustainability goals and reduce costs. Here are a few ways travel businesses are doing this:
Farm to table dining experiences in which fresh produce and other ingredients are sourced from local, sustainable farms are what the high-end wellness traveller is expecting.
Michelin star restaurant, Labyrinth, has made a name for itself by serving up authentic Singaporean dishes with 90% of its ingredients coming from local farms. Chef Han Li Guang is swapping out imported ingredients for local equivalents, thereby introducing unique new flavours. For example, in their chilli crab dish, they’ve replaced imported mud crabs with local flower crabs. They have also integrated little known vegetables into their dishes such as ‘cat whiskers’ which can be found in local edible gardens.
Don’t have an organic farm next door? No problem.
The Fairmont Hotel and Swissôtel located in the heart of Singapore are bringing the farm to them with new on-site aquaponics and urban farming solutions. They are now raising fish and growing their own produce in an integrated system. Fish waste is converted into nitrates, which can then be used as fertilisers for vegetables. Meanwhile vegetable crops filter and clean the water for the fish pond. This helps to significantly lower the consumption of water compared to traditional soil based gardening.
Growing your own produce can reduce food costs and at the same time lower the carbon footprint that goes into shipping food from abroad. It also reduces the need for plastic packaging and pesticides to keep food fresh. In the future, The Fairmont Hotel expects its aquaponics farm to provide 30% of its vegetables and cover 10% of its fish needs per month.
This also ties into the Singapore government’s goal to produce 30% of its food locally by 2030. Currently the country imports 90% of its domestic food consumption. This means that international supply chain issues (as we have seen most recently with the pandemic) can cause major disruption. With urban farming, both diners and businesses can reap the benefits of the farm to table movement.
Another part of both the wellness and sustainability trend is the move towards vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
The rise of alternative protein options can make menus both healthier and more sustainable. Market predictions show that the industry has the potential to reach $290 billion by 2035. This is a particular trend growing amongst millennial and Gen Z consumers who see the switch to alternative proteins as an important part of the drive towards preserving the environment.
Interestingly, adding these alternatives to the menu could also help dining venues recover from the pandemic with a recent survey showing that 30% of consumers would switch restaurant brands to satisfy their taste for plant-based meat alternatives.
Singapore is expected to be at the forefront of this innovation, having been the first country to legalise cell grown meats in 2020. It also introduced the first university course on meat alternatives at Nanyang Technological University, meaning we’ll see a lot of interesting innovations come from the country. If you’re looking to integrate plant-based proteins in your menu, but don’t know where to start, The Good Food Institute Asia Pacific (APAC) has developed a handy alternative protein ecosystem database.
Share your interest with Tcube
Whether you are looking to build back your customer base after the pandemic or seeking a way to differentiate your brand in the competitive travel sector, the continued growth of wellness tourism offers some interesting new opportunities.
Singapore Tourism Board’s startup accelerator program is on the lookout for the latest tech innovation in this area. Tech startups interested in learning more about the program can find more information here. Tourism businesses and potential industry partners interested in conducting a wellness tech pilot, reach out to us so we can discuss your specific areas of interest: email@example.com
We welcome you to share your story, feedback and content topics you would like us to cover. Please fill in the Tcube form for us to better understand your needs: https://go.gov.sg/tcubecommunity
© 2021 Singapore Tourism Board. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of STB or as otherwise permitted herein. STB makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in this publication. STB, its members, officers, employees and any other persons acting under its direction, shall not be liable for any loss, injury or damage, whether direct or indirect, arising out of or in connection with the use of information in this publication.