If you’re like me, you’ve been crossing your fingers and toes over the past year in hopes of seeing our economy—and our spa-related businesses—finally come out of its dismal state. I just received the results of SpaFinder’s fourth annual State of Spa Travel survey, and I feel tentatively hopeful. This query of 250-plus global travel agents conducted last month revealed that spa travel performed surprisingly well across a depressed economy in 2009 and is clocking modest, yet measurable, gains for the first half of 2010. Here are a few of the highlights:
A Resilient 2009—Modest Gains in 2010
Despite a historically abysmal 2009 economy, roughly two in three agents (64%) reported no declines in spa travel bookings last year (over 2008), with 26% reporting spa travel actually increased. And for first-half 2010, the modest economic recovery underway is reflected in the measurable (if similarly modest) gains in spa travel: 36% report spa travel has increased in the first six months of 2010; 39% claim it’s remained about the same; while 25% cite year-over-year declines.). The majority (albeit slim, at 52%) report the economic recovery is now having a direct, positive impact on spa travel bookings – and the optimism for full-year 2010 is higher: 61% predict overall growth this year, with only 7% expecting year-over-year declines.
A New Season of “Let’s Make a Deal”
Hotel, resort and destination spas are not hitting the brakes on special pricing/deals in the somewhat improved 2010 economy. In fact, a surprising 44% of agents report even more aggressive spa travel deals in 2010 over 2009, while 48% report the bargains are holding firm. This industry “deal” strategy matches what consumers have been conditioned to expect: Agents report that the #1 change in spa travelers’ behavior in 2010 is “seeking significant deals.”
Price-Per-Night Mirrors 2009
In 2009, agents reported that the most frequently booked price-per-night at spa destinations had trended down considerably, and in 2010 the numbers are near identical: 74% of spa travel booked now falls under $299 a night (identical with ’09), while 41% falls under $200.
Health & Wellness Travel Continues Surge
Sixty-six percent of agents (up from 52% last year) report their clients are showing a markedly increased interest in vacations with a dedicated health/wellness focus. Additionally, 88% of agents report that health/wellness offerings are now important to their clients (up from 83% in ’09).
Top Trends: “Social Spa-ing” Parties On
Agents weighed in on which trends are exhibiting the most momentum in 2010, and “social spa-ing” (friends/families/groups traveling to spas for special occasions/celebrations) ranked #1, just edging out “spa travel for wellness/health.” Traveling solo ranked third, spa travel by younger people (under 40) ranked fourth, and increased international spa travel ranked fifth.
What do you think of these results? Are they matching up to what you are experiencing in your spa? Be sure to add your comments here. And to get the entire results of the survey, visit www.spafinder.com.