With the establishment of the Obama healthcare plan, the US health services markets are poised for growth in the next 25 years. The luxury hospitality sector has always focused on cuisine and fine wine as a calling card for their properties including the featuring of top chefs or experts. But, one area of the luxury business has also been part of this traditional strategy: the Spa Industry . The related industries of Specialty Nutrition, Health and Wellness started with the Golden Door Spa. But, with the growth of the boutique luxury hotel sector along with the better informed customer, this grand old concept, needs a re-write. Not content just to bring in the usual suspects from the French Cordon Bleu School, boutique hotel groups have discovered that people want to eat well and improve their health as a bonus to their vacation time. So, the spa industry which based its core business in beauty and exercise now needs an update with specific holistic health programs designed to reach out to this new luxury customer. But this is not just about diets. Nutritional programs, vegan or vegetarian menus, health amenities or services that when combined with other features like exercise, spirituality or self-help menu choices say “5-star” and create all the aspirational qualities of a luxury brand.
This new spin on luxury vacations demands different outreach programs since the luxury customer has changed. Along with the baby boomers, the clients are typically younger, with more disposable income and less time. They are also very digitally savvy and spend a huge portion of their time online. This requires a “re-think” to reach the new luxe health audience. The answer will be more than just a fancy website or a Facebook page. This isn’t camp, its luxury health and wellness that needs integration into the entire vacation experience. This might include specific menus, experts, gurus, yoga instructors, and other amenities that make this experience “ultimate”. Health, is the new luxury and that gives the brand platform a new shot in the arm. It’s a powerful combination that hoteliers and spa owners need to approach with a specific strategy that reaches all the touch points of this new “healthy, wealthy and wise” digitally savvy customer.
The key to new luxury marketing today, according to Jim Taylor, top research strategist at the Harrison Group says that “Purchasers are now more resourceful, looking for products and services that add joy and value to their lives in real time “or, as Dr. Taylor says, “The consumer looks for immediate benefit in their value equation”.
This touches on the classic aspects of the luxury brand: exclusivity, unique experiences, perceived value, ultimate services and expertise served up to this client in a way that also creates value.
Providing health expertise, delicious healthy food, ultimate concierge services and surroundings that contribute to the experience this defines the luxury health customer. The health benefits are part of the overall goal that the luxury customer is seeking. Now, they can “improve” their lives while they are taking a vacation which they see as a ‘win-win’. This makes the concept of health, and its ultimate pursuit, a new luxury available to the upper income or luxury audience.