The Asian spa and wellness sector faces four critical challenges, according to a new report.
The White Paper – compiled by the nonprofit industry group the Asia Pacific Spa & Wellness Coalition (APSWC) – lists customers, staff, technology and design as the primary issues facing the region’s spa and wellness industry.
The report’s findings are based on a two-day, invitation-only roundtable event organised by APSWC in March. The event featured 40 industry leaders from 15 countries, with the aim of highlighting industry issues and brainstorm solutions through organic discussion.
Describing the publication of the report and the roundtable as a “watershed” for the region’s spa and wellness industry, APSWC chair Andrew Jacka said the intention is to grow the event into a larger gathering.
“This was the first of what we hope will evolve in future years into a multiple day educational event open to all levels of industry,” he said. “Never before has it been attempted to bring industry leaders together with a singular objective of defining what issues we face, what the opportunities are, what needs to be done and who needs to do it, to achieve our collective objective of professional growth and development.
“It is not a paper that just talks about the problems, it is a paper that identifies realistic steps towards solving the problems,” Jacka continued.
The four challenges – and potential solutions – are grouped into four topics in the report:
Customers: During the roundtable, the region’s spas were accused of falling into the trap of being too generic. Solutions included better researching who the customers are and what they want, and reflecting this in the business models of spas.
In addition, the roundtable concluded that social media should be handled promptly, especially when taking the opportunity to resolve negative reviews.
Design for wellbeing: People, planet and profit were identified as “the three Ps” that the sector needs to focus on. The creation of a “Design for Wellbeing” standard was suggested, which would then be promoted and trained region-wide.
Our People, Our Future: Spa and wellness employees span manual labour and management, and the industry needs to better recognise the variations, the roundtable agreed. Rather than a simple issue of fair pay levels, retaining staff is about motivation via benefits and rewards that empower. Flexibility helps motivate, and Millennials – who will make up much of the workforce going forward – are motivated when offered mentoring, feedback and best practices management.
Treatment and Therapy Technology: From digital innovations to operating systems, treatments and skincare, social media and marketing, technology is already all-encompassing in the wellness industry. Classifying potential technologies and their benefits, ensuring relevance to individual businesses and keeping up with cutting-edge technologies like wearables, augmented and virtual reality, will be necessary to keep customers engaged.
The APSWC is also hosting an ‘Understanding Ayurveda’ study tour to Kerala, India, which will take place 10-15 August 2017.
The next APSWC Roundtable is tentatively scheduled for 15 – 16 March, 2018.