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Brief Published: 18 May 2020

3 Virtual Wellness Travel Activations to Watch

To maintain momentum in wellness travel – a $639bn global market (Global Wellness Institute, 2018) – clever hospitality companies are pivoting to digital activations like those detailed in The Virtual Travel Boom. We highlight three examples that illustrate how the spa experience can be reimagined for stressed-out, homebound consumers during the pandemic.

  • VR Onsen Visits: As of early April, 90% of the ryokan in Arima (home of Japan’s famous hot springs) have temporarily closed. To connect with would-be arrivals and inspire future visits, a group of five inns created a series of virtual reality videos that simulate the experience of soaking in an onsen. Each lasts about six minutes and features an ASMR-worthy mix of birdsong, running water and gentle breezes while the viewer sees themselves immersed in a hot spring.

    With quarantined consumers starved for mood-boosting connections with nature (see New Health Brandscapes for more on its health benefits), these pseudo-spa visits offer a way to fill the gap – an approach we unpick in Social-Distancing Strategies.

  • Gratis Remote Retreats: Luxury Thai spa resort chain Six Senses has developed an at-home wellness series of guided meditations, healthy recipes and workout routines. The content is a mix of articles, videos and live-streamed tutorials that embraces the brand-led support strategies we explore in Covid-19: Brand Initiatives for Life Interrupted. While booking a stay might be cost-prohibitive for most travellers, this self-care sampler is a clever way to entice curious consumers and bolster interest for bucket-list travel.

  • Homebound Wellness Database: US trade group the Wellness Tourism Association created Healthy@Home as a database to collect the remote self-care schemes its member companies are operating during lockdown. Consumers can find everything from paid-for week-long yoga “retreats” (which combine remote guided classes, workshops and meditations) to free stargazing sessions operated by the tourism board in Sedona, Arizona.

For more on the state of self-care, see Wellness Trends for Hospitality, 10 Wellness Trends to Watch and Beyond Burnout.