By Sara Jones, for Spa & Wellness MexiCaribe
An interview with Susie Ellis, Franz Linser and Sue Harmsworth of the Global Wellness Summit, to be held in October 2016, Kitzbuhel, Austria.
What are the key accomplishments in wellness of the last decade?
Susie Ellis: The fact that the term “wellness” has been embraced globally is a huge accomplishment and one that happened over the last decade. Ten years ago many different terms were being used and vying for attention, but each fell short of inspiring a movement. Some examples include “spa,” “prevention,” “health,” “healthy travel,” “eco building,” “integrative medicine,” etc. Now that all of these separate sectors have found a place under the term wellness (“wellness centers,” “wellness retreats,” “wellness tourism,” “workplace wellness,” “wellness architecture,” “medical wellness,” “wellness communities,” “wellness technology,” etc.). The combined efforts have garnered significant attention and the entire industry is now valued at $3.4 trillion. That’s a huge accomplishment!
Franz Linser: We have gone from talking about “spa” to talking about “wellness” and have evolved from a small market segment to a mainstream industry that now covers all spheres of modern life – from home, work to tourism – and has become truly the “center of society”. We’ve gone from focusing on pampering (momentary feel-good treatments) to treatment concepts that sustain wellness and wellbeing and actively prevent illness and promote health. In place of the concentration on physical treatments (massage & beauty), you’re seeing a rise of mental and psychological offerings and a new focus on social health (wellness communities), as well as spirituality on wellness menus.
Sue Harmsworth: The word ‘Wellness’ has been around for years. In the last 5 years or so, it’s really become fashionable, however people don’t really know what it means. Spas have opened the eyes of a much larger volume of consumers and the global lifestyle issues have become more apparent. Before technology we lived a different life, many issues now are technology and stress driven and people are more aware. A recent statistic predicts that by 2020 there will be more obese people than malnourished people.
What would you forecast in the wellness industry for the coming decade?
Susie Ellis: As more people understand that 75% of illness is preventable and that rising health care costs around the world make it unsustainable to continue to pay for treating the effects of lifestyle choices that result in those illnesses, there is no other option but to work together to make prevention the goal. Governments, corporations, small businesses, insurance companies, schools, medical professionals, individuals, etc. will begin working together to make this happen. I feel that within the next 10 years (hopefully much sooner) the statistics of increasing obesity and diabetes will begin to reverse, and that healthy living and real sustainable lifestyle change is going to have to happen.
Franz Linser: First, traditional beauty concepts will become more radical, more invasive and more medical (eternal youth, plastic beauty). Second, a wellness inspired redefinition of beauty will occur. An evolution from external beauty paradigms to individual beauty concepts is expected. Standardized, one-size-fits-all beauty concepts will be replaced by personalized beauty concepts with authentic differentiators. The new beauty will be the beauty of authenticity, character and charisma; the beauty of happy individuals, well groomed and cultured with clearly distinguishable personal characteristics.
There is yet another area within the wellness industry in which we will probably be observing the biggest changes in the near future: life direction, sense and spirituality. Customers searching for answers, advice and solutions in these fields, will ask for completely different wellness concepts, different locations, different spa programs and social settings.
Sue Harmsworth: Clarification. The conversation of what constitutes wellness and what properties should offer has shown that developers don’t necessarily have an understanding of what wellness is. Projects need clarification to move forward. Most of what we need has yet to be built; it’s difficult for existing spas and hotels to switch over to wellness. Adding a few wellness aspects doesn’t make a spa or hotel a wellness destination. There will likely be confusion for the consumer and the industry over the coming years before clarification is achieved. Division is also required of what is medical and what is prevention. So facilities are aware of what’s appropriate in the luxury resort environment.
What areas of wellness do you feel are most important for the global population as a whole?
Susie Ellis: I think what happen as we get more serious about wellness and prevention of illness is a change in attitude – there needs to be collaboration and openness because there really is no “one” solution. Different solutions are important in different circumstances, different countries, and for different people – so lots of things need to happen to truly make a difference.
Diet, exercise, stress-reduction, sleep, medical appointments, genomics, education, technology, social networks, people discovering their purpose in life, family relationships, financial wellness, nature, spiritual health, healthy buildings and communities, improvement in income disparity, mental health, decrease in geopolitical conflict, and likely things that aren’t even in the conversation yet, are all going to be part of the solution. So perhaps one of the most important factors to improve global health will be a spirit of collaboration.
Franz Linser: The global population as whole needs to begin to live a more conscious and active life; focusing on health versus sickness and pain. There needs to be recognition of mother earth and everything nature offers and living in accordance with the gifts and rules of nature. This means eating less processed food and taking in more natural herbs, fresh air, fresh water while living in the healthy rhythm of life which will result in sharpened senses (people will feel, smell, see and hear better) with longer life expectancy.
Sue Harmsworth: We, as an industry, need to focus on education. Educating consumers on wellness, fitness, health, and how to live longer and better is important. Millennials will see things in a different light however there’s no point living longer if we are not healthy. Education will help the prevention of disease and mindfulness can provide people with a positive outlook. Being in the right place both mentally and physically will help people positively affect their lives.