In a recent study by the Hospitality Valuation Service (HVS) it was reported that ‘hotels lose approximately $450million in direct revenues per year to AirBnb’. The same governing body also highlighted that ‘between September 2014 and August 2015, only 450,000 hotel room nights were reserved while over 2.8million room nights were booked on AirBnb’[1] with reporting that ‘AirBnb believe they will earn as much as $3.5billion a year by 2020’[2]. What is clear from current statistics is that hotels must adapt in order to compete with likes of AirBnb through offering something more than just a luxurious accommodation and exemplary service.

One demographic that hoteliers should not ignore when looking at how best to adapt to the changing industry, is the wellness market. The Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report (GWTER) estimate that ‘wellness tourism is projected to grow by more than 9% per year through 2017, nearly 50% faster than overall global tourism’ and that according to SRI International, ‘wellness tourists spend 130% more than the average tourist’.[3]

With an estimated 17 million travellers identifying themselves as being ‘health and wellbeing’ focused and with the majority travelling regularly, it is likely that the industry will see a rise of more wellness-centric packages and offerings. 

Further research by SRI revealed that ‘non–spa-related healthy travel represents 59% of the wellness tourism industry.’[4] For many, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about health and wellbeing experiences is spa treatments and for a long time this type of wellness travel dominated the industry. However, as demand has grown, so has the variety of experiences which tourists are actively seeking. Hotels no longer have to offer a spa service to compete within the market as travellers look to improve their mind & body, along with achieving a sense of relaxation. Simplistic services, such as tailored diets and juicing sessions have seen a rise in recent months, along with packages which offer activities, such as yoga.

The Varsity Hotel & Spa offers prime example of how a hotel can utilise its space to create a wellness offering outside of the traditional spa treatments, with their ‘Bend & Brunch’ package which was available throughout January 2017. The package offered a detoxifying, deep bend yoga session followed by a healthy brunch event at the hotels panoramic SIX restaurant.

If the global hospitality industry wants to quell the formidable rise of AirBnb they must begin thinking beyond the current norm, and offer something to the new, emerging travel markets. The wellness tourism market is lucrative business and offers hoteliers an opportunity to set themselves apart from AirBnb.