The Future Of Medi-Spas

The EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality (SSTH) just hosted the very first Swiss Medical Spa & Hospitality Think Tank this month in Chur-Passugg, Switzerland, with the one-day forum bringing together industry experts, academics and students to discuss the current landscape, best practices, and areas of potential growth throughout the medical, spa, tourism and hospitality industries.

The SSTH concluded that “with self-care and wellbeing becoming increasingly high-profile topics, the demand for medical services in the hospitality and tourism sectors is growing.”

It may seem like a peculiar mix at first, but we are already seeing the convergence of the hospitality industry with medical aesthetics and wellness, through growing focuses on gut/internal health, ingestible beauty (such as beauty and collagen powders and beverages), spas positioned alongside restaurants and cafes like Sol Spa and Willow Urban Retreat, and initiatives such as Gillian Adams’ Twilight Dining experience – just to name a few.

Wellness tourism was also up for discussion. A growing area, according to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism is expected to see average annual growth of 7.5% through 2022.

“Growth in the global medical spa market is driven by the increasing number of aesthetic medicine and cosmetic treatment options for beauty enhancement, and by the growth in wellness trends among developed nations. The rise in medical tourism in developing economies like India, China and Brazil is also expected to be a driver of growth.” Explained CV Wijeratne, Head of Spa & Wellness Management Major at SSTH.

SSTH managing director Michael Hartmann says “People want an experience. People want all of their senses to be stimulated. People want us to build on their childhood imprints. This is particularly relevant for health and wellbeing tourism, where guests have very specific expectations and needs. The medical and hospitality fields are connecting their expertise to provide patients and guests with a higher quality experience on all aspects.”

Speakers on the day, including Dr Peter Yesawich of Brown Legacy Group (Cancer Treatment Centers of America) and Lisa Clarke of the Destination Medical Center Minnesota, revealed that the demand for hospitality expertise and talent is also felt across traditional medical treatment facilities.

Dr Peter Yesawich explained that this comes down to the orientation towards the guest experience that is inherent in the hospitality industry. This sentiment, incorporating the same holistic approach, was echoed by Clarke.

Additional topics included ‘Outbound Health and Wellness Tourism Destination Choice by U.S. Consumers’ by Dr Radesh Palikurthi (University of Memphis) and ‘Bridging Healthcare to Hospitality’ by Dr Frederick J. De Micco (University of Delaware), along with a panel discussing key forces driving change and opportunity throughout global health, spa and wellness, medical and hospitality sectors.

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