Wellness trends and predicitons

10 Trends and Predicitions for 2020 and Beyond.
Spa Business Handbook (2017)

By Dr Marc Cohen

It is always treacherous to make predictions and in a world where change is occurring at such a rapid pace that the only certainty is that the future will be radically different from now and any current forecasts are likely to flawed. Dramatic shifts in human demographics and global environmental systems, together with new technological innovations, computer intelligence, renewable energy systems, and unprecedented human connectivity will create a future that is beyond the realms of our current thinking. The following predictions and trends are therefore written in the knowledge that that are likely to be incomplete and inaccurate at best, and blatantly wrong at worst. They are based however on current trends that are likely to continue into the near future and present opportunities and challenges that may assist spa owners and operators in their future thinking.

AI CONSULTANTS & VIRTUAL WELLNESS

Artificial Intelligence will evolve to create personal AI wellness consultants that design programs informed by vast data sources including genetic, microbiome, biosensor, psychometric, geographical exposure and social-connection data. Virtual reality will also move into the wellness world with virtual experiences and getaways to exotic locations both real and imaginary. Together virtual reality and AI will also power immersive games using real-time biometrics that take us places we have not yet imagined.

This will provide spas with the opportunity to create unique experiences and treatments based on guests’ personalised data, and will challenge spa to adapt their wellness offerings to VR environments, as well as provide exhilarating and nurturing real world and augmented experiences that can compete with VR experiences available elsewhere.

THE POCKET LAB

The power of smart phones will be leveraged to revolutionise personal medical testing. Sophisticated technologies that are now only available in specialised labs with multimillion dollar equipment and highly trained technicians will become available to everyone at minimal cost. Expect to see a range of new low-cost nano-biosensors and devices that collect and analyse our blood, urine, sweat and tears, and measure the quality of our food, water, environment and overall health.

This will provide the opportunity for spas to compete with conventional medical services and offer spa products and evidenced-based services that positively impact on guests’ health metrics. Personal wellness metrics will also challenge spas to monitor and track their guests’ wellbeing and response to different treatments, as well as interface with existing and future medical data and record-keeping systems.

DEEP NATURE

The healing power of nature cannot be overestimated and nature will become an increasingly valuable resource.  While every part of the planet is now a tourist destination and true wilderness no longer exists, people will seek out immersion in ‘deep nature’ that is far from technological and industrial influences. People will also become more attune to the variability, beauty and fragility of local flora and fauna and the changes humans are imposing on it.

This will put pressure on natural environments and challenge operators to retain nature in its pristine state despite the impact of more and more people, as well as challenge designers and architects to satisfy our biophilia by creating natural experiences in urban environments. This will also open opportunities for sustainable economic and community development in locations with hot springs and other natural wellness resources, and provide opportunities for wellness-adventure experiences with minimal environmental impact.

MAKING PEACE WITH THE NATURE WITHIN

The war on microbes that has been raged with antibiotics, chlorine, pesticides, disinfectants and preservatives is coming to an end. We now recognise that 99% of the genetic material in our bodies belongs to the bacteria in our guts and is vital for health. Expect to see greater emphasis on microbial ecosystems and the benefits of pre- and probiotics, fermented foods, vaginal births, contact with healthy soils, and the use of stool transplants for a range of medical conditions.

An increasing understanding of microbial ecology will provide opportunities to create microbial-based cosmetics, cleansers, deodorants and other personal care products. A growing understanding of the ‘bathing biome’ will further lead to microbial-based water treatments and challenge spas to provide safe and hygienic environments while minimising the use of harmful disinfectants.

THE SOUND OF WELLNESS

Sound is all around us and inside us, yet the dominant ambient sound in most urban environments is the hum of industrial ‘noise’. Expect to see a greater emphasis on natural soundscapes with music replacing televised news in waiting rooms and wellness offerings that include true silence. Also expect a greater use of music as medicine, sound therapy devices, and an emphasis on the personal benefits of singing, playing music and the sounds of nature.

A greater appreciation of sound presents opportunities for musicians and artists to create new forms of healing music that engages us in new ways. It will also challenge architects and engineers to minimise or counteract ambient noise in urban environment and (re)produce true silence that can be used as a blank canvass for conscious soundscapes.

DANCE, CHANT & GET HIGH

Just as people move into virtual, technologically-driven worlds, they will increasingly seek out down-to-earth experiences inspired by indigenous wisdom and cultures. Expect to see a resurgence of shamanic practices using traditional foods and plant-based medicines such as medicinal marijuana and ayahuasca, along with a resurgence of ancient rituals such as sweat lodges, chanting, drumming and ecstatic dance.

The inclusion of shaman practices provides opportunities for spas to create safe spaces where guests can undergo extreme emotional catharsis and deep personal transformation. This will also pose challenges for spas in providing therapists who are skilled in dealing with intense situations and the potential for adverse reactions, as well as creating challenges around legal, licensing and training issues, while raising concerns about cultural appropriation and authenticity.

HOW WET IS YOUR WATER?

The value of pure flowing water will increase and become recognised as a true wellness resource. People are now realising their drinking and bathing water is often contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs and other industrial contaminants, and that by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the sea. Expect to see a rise in green chemistry, smartphone compatible water-test kits, new water harvesting, filtering and purification technologies, and more attention to water quality in food outlets, bathing facilities, and tourism and wellness locations.

An emphasis on water as a wellness resource provides opportunities for spas to promote the unique qualities of their water and treatments, and deliver on the promise of ‘health through water’. It also challenges spas to take up a leadership position with regards to water quality and reduce the use and impact of pollutants and other contaminants through measuring, monitoring and managing the quality of the water used in their facilities and their local communities.

UP IN THE AIR

Air quality will become an increasingly important global and local issue. Air quality is vital for optimal health and brain function, and as more people realise that traffic pollution is more deadly than the road toll we will see greater incentives for electric vehicles and people vacating cities to escape toxic air. Also expect to see a rising importance of geomedicine and indoor air quality meters and metrics, along with wellness locations highlighting air quality amongst their offerings.

Awareness of air quality and the effects of place on health will drive wellness real estate developments and lead to wellness metrics disrupting the world’s largest asset class, as well as provides an opportunity for remote locations that offer truly fresh air to capitalise on this precious resource. This will also challenge urban spas to provide fresh air havens using the latest in air purification technologies and prompt spas to consider going beyond aromas and signature smells, and design treatments around specific air quality measures.

WELLNESS POLITICS

The realisation that wellness activities reduce chronic disease and enhance human performance and longevity will cause wellness to become increasingly political with government ministers and political parties taking up the challenge to effectively measure and administer wellbeing and align policies with human rather than economic wellbeing. This is likely to play out in levies on sugar, alcohol, tobacco and fast foods, and policies around health insurance, workplace wellness incentives and environmental pollutants.

The politics of wellness provides a unique opportunity for spa services to become incorporated into workplace wellness programs, government health insurance and rebate schemes, and community-based health programs. Spa can also take up the challenge to enhance the quality of political decisions by championing the inclusion of wellness activities and experiences in the political process, and engaging politicians in nurturing their own wellbeing.

THE CROWD IN THE CLOUD

Wellness is about ‘we’ not ‘i’ and with most people owning a connected mobile device, expect to see a surge in social media use and peer-to-peer initiatives that harness geographical information systems, new sensor technologies and cloud computing platforms, along with cyber-currencies linked to wellness metrics. This will lead to crowd-sourced and crowd-funded wellness maps that transcend political boundaries, highlight resource gradients, and hold corporations and governments to account.

A greater reliance on crowd-based information will expand existing platforms and create opportunities for spas to expand their client base and engage in more meaningful dialogues through crowd-sourced treatments and viral wellness campaigns. This will further challenge spas to interface with communities, corporations and governments, and promote wellness trends that foster a global wellness culture to create a wave of positive change.

Wellness trends and predicitons

10 Trends and Predicitions for 2020 and Beyond.
Spa Business Handbook (2017)