Spa and wellness: What’s the difference?


As we take a closer look at the trends in the spa industry for 2014, it’s continuously important to focus on the wellness topic. This year, as with last year, we are likely to see a continuous trend of increasing demand for wellness spas and wellness services. And, as we saw in 2013, many spa owners will continue to fight against the term, not wanting to put money into a wellness marketing plan. Nevertheless, a spa and wellness provider may in fact be one in the same. As a business owner, you’ll want to embrace the concept of how wellness fits into the spa world.


Are they the same thing?

In her article “Is wellness part of spa, or is spa part of wellness?” Susie Ellis, President of SpaFinder Wellness 365, paints the picture for us. As she states in the post, many spa owners view wellness as a very small part of the spa business. She also points out that this is very much a narrow point of view. And, we agree with this. “Wellness” may only seem to account for a small fraction of the business that’s driven in, but focusing on a business strategy (including a market strategy) that includes wellness is critical. In fact, in 2014, we’ll see wellness growing as an important component of our industry.


What does the consumer think wellness really is?

What’s most important is what the consumer thinks. This is another area in which we agree with Ellis’s points when she states that the consumer now considers the following types of massage services a component of wellness, whether it is mind, body, or spiritual healing:

  • Fitness
  • Massages
  • Facials
  • Bodywork
  • Educational classes given at facilities
  • Nutritional programmes

All of this falls into the category of a true wellness programme. In one way or another, each of these components is essential to the well-being of the human body. Therefore, it is safe to say that if your spa is offering any of these services, it is in fact, providing a wellness service. Why fight against what the consumer already perceives?


Updating the marketing plan

Perhaps the most important step for the spa, then, in this area is to update their marketing plan to focus more on the wellness component of the business model. Here are a few key concepts that need to be focused on going forward:

  1. Spas are seen as a part of the wellness industry. It’s time to stop thinking your facility isn’t part of the same group and embrace it instead. Realise that this is a good thing.
  2. Modify the existing treatments offered to create more of a wellness concept. In short, offering more wellness-orientated services and treatments will help to pull in consumers already looking for these services.
  3. Market your business as a wellness facility. Not only do you need to offer wellness treatments to consumers, but it is also important to market them as such, being mindful of any overstated promises.


Overall, business owners will find that the spa industry’s growth will continue to focus on the concept of wellness. Whether you market a massage as a stress reliever or facials as improving skin health, the key here is to ensure you do not exclude wellness from your overall service list. Doing so could actually keep your business from getting the very best level of clientele it needs. More so, as revealed by SRI International’s research report The Global Wellness Tourism Economy, with spa tourism, estimated at US$180bn and making up 41 percent of the global wellness tourism market, your business needs to be focusing on what this can mean to the long-term goals of your spa.


Wellness and spa do not have to be seen as two stand-alone entities. Rather, they should be seen as two components of an industry dedicated to helping people to feel good about themselves, their health, and their overall well-being.

By Sonal

Sonal Uberoi creates and delivers smarter spas around the world. Spas and hotel groups hire Sonal to help them design, set up and manage their wellness businesses. Her finance background and worldwide operations experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality sectors make Sonal the go-to expert for business optimisation solutions. Connect with Sonal on LinkedIn

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