It’s that time of year….we are almost ready to unveil our 2012 SpaFinder Spa Trend Forecast! But before we do that, I like to review each of our last year’s spa trend predictions (2011) and grade us on how well we did on each of the trends. After all – it has been an entire year now and lots has happened in the world of spa. So here we go with the first trend and as you will see, I ended up giving this prediction 2 different grades, one is an A and the other is a D. You’ll see why below.
Aging…Raging…Pain Relief Treatments
Whatever term you use, “aging baby boomers,” “silver spa-ers” or “active retirees,” the fact is that the 65-plus spa-going demographic will have a massive impact on the industry for years to come.The data on the “graying” of the North American, European and Japanese populations could fill a library, with these regions’ populations aging at a rate unprecedented in human history. And millions of baby boomers (the generation that galvanized the spa/wellness revolution) turn 65 each year…
This demographic viciously rejects labels, and the days of “over-65” as a catchall “old-person” category will soon become ancient history. (After all, there’s a huge difference between a 70-year-old who plays tennis three times a week and an 85-year-old seeking pain relief.) Savvy spas will now be rethinking everything to address these all-too-often-ignored niches’ specific needs: from facilities, to equipment, to programming, to marketing and staffing. Physical therapy, rehabilitation, recuperation and just plain old pain relief will increase on spas’ menus, to meet the needs of clientele with back, neck, knee and mobility issues.
A few forward-thinking examples: Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spas are adding an extensive muscle and joint program promising pain relief. We’ll see more spas (modeled after a Canyon Ranch) featuring exercise physiologists, sports medicine professionals, chiropractors, orthopedics, naturopaths and physical therapists on staff (or on call). Look for the rise of the term “corrective” — “corrective” massage, “corrective” facials, etc., and for the already used-to-death term “anti-aging” to get a further workout. We’ll see a rise in offerings like Biofreeze Pain Management massages; infrared saunas, which function at far-less searing heat (but penetrate heat further into the body than a traditional sauna); and new chilled loungers that accomplish what cold plunge pools do, but are more comfortable and safer for older guests. Many spas are even using bigger print for their spa menus!
A renaissance in spa bathing is looming, as the pain-relief benefits of soaking in thermal water are rediscovered. While finding new expressions (i.e., the Scandinave and Le Nordic models in Canada, the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun in Japan, or the lucrative Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Southern California), SpaFinder forecasts a renewed respect for the benefits of sanitas per aqua that has recently taken a backseat to weight loss, beauty and fitness.
Prior research has concurred that the number-one reason people go to spas is to “relax and de-stress,” but in some regions of the world that may soon be replaced by to “relieve aches and pains.”
I would give us an A in terms of this trend prediction…yes…this aging thing is really happening and it is hugely important in the spa industry. And I would give our industry a D…we are acting as if it isn’t happening! I am not seeing many adjustments that we all need to make in our businesses to accommodate the aging baby boomer. Very few menus with larger print, very little attention to better lighting and easier to navigate corridors, and not nearly as much mention of pain relief on menus as I would have hoped.
Alas….I suppose it is early in that the first baby boomer just turned 65 this year (born between 1948 and 1984), however if we spend some time listening to the conversations baby boomers are having, there is a lot of talk about knee replacements, medications, eye issues and visits to the doctor. My experience has been that those who adjust early to address the needs of this huge generation have a major competitive advantage. I would say…age game on!
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