Wellness quest started centuries ago when Romans and Greeks were nourishing the vivid tradition of thermal spa and traditional medicine the unique way to heal. Nowadays, wellness is becoming a state-of-mind and a quality of life, however competition is tough and branding wellness services becomes a requirement in the health tourism industry.
Modern concept adapted from ancient traditions, wellness is a mainstream industry with 289 million consumers in the world’s 30 wealthiest countries according to a 2009 Stanford Research institute study representing a $2 trillion industry. Wellness displays a wide range of business opportunities and undeniably has its place in the health tourism panorama. Thus, branding wellness can be crucial to enable business growth. Director Global Spas & Programming, Mia Kyricos, enounces four preliminary questions to examine motivation in branding wellness.
- Does your product or service exist within an established business / company, or are you attempting to bring something new to market?
- Are you trying to develop / deliver a service to simply remain competitive, or is it critical for your consumers to develop an emotional connection to your offering?
- Will the product / service stand-alone or will it be packaged with others?
- Would partnering with an established entity / brand ultimately give you the same result?
Branding will enable consumers to relate more to the product, keeping in mind the range of services offered and save their time and energy looking for wellness products according to Kyricos. For the business owner Kyricos precise “branding will keep management honest, saves marketing and development cost for multi-unit operations and often yields greater return on investment.”
The Case of Latin-America ~ Playing of Your Strengths
Branding wellness tourism in Latin America can appear difficult. Indeed, a center of history, wellness is not a traditional tourism motivator. Generally people travel to Latin-America for its archeology, heritage, culture and gastronomy according to Aranwa Hotel & Spas Deputy General Manager Gabriel Alvarez. However according to him these can be an asset, “take advantage and build up on it,” Alvarez says.
Indeed, Alvarez takes the example of Bolivia, which has a culture of wine, or Costa-Rica, Bolivia, and Ecuador that have a history in thermals. Branding wellness would include talking about it and presenting it as an advantage, a culture of tradition. “Use it as a selling proposition,” Alvarez says.
Moreover, in order to reinforce and implement a company in the wellness market, creating synergies is highly recommended according to him. “The key here is we are not alone, there are different spas in Latin-America,” Alvarez says. “We should not only focus on the home market.”
In that way Alvarez explains Brazil should promote Argentina, Argentina should promote Paraguay and so on. “There is an opportunity for working together, an opportunity to learn,” Alvarez says. “Branding an area as a wellness destination is a long process.”
The Case of Turkey ~ Tradition of Thermals
Turkish baths tradition was created a thousand years ago when Turks arrived in Anatolia. Since ancient times, Turks followed the tradition of thermals and brought it up to the world as one of their main assets. To reach this status, health professionals worked with the Turkish government and the European Union.
Founded in 2000, Turkspa, the Turkish Spas Association, became a member of Espa, the European Spas Association. “This development is hoped to be continued in coming years which in turn will result an increase in the quality standards of spas in Turkey,” President of the International Society of Medical Hydrology and Climatology, Zeki Karagülle said. Espa enables countries to bind in order to create collaborations more easily. Besides, Espa helps organizations such as Turkspa to conduct their demands with political institutions.
Being a member of an European association brings legitimacy and structure to national organizations. The website Espa-ehc.com stated, “The common objective must be to establish a standardised structure in order to create more transparency on the European market.”
Beyond being visable in the European market, the health tourism industry also is supported by the Turkish government. “Ministry of Tourism and Culture has led forming a so called ‘Health Tourism Platform’ consisting of the representatives of health/medical, thermal and spa wellness tourism sector of Turkey with the aim of again coordinating the separate efforts and activities of the sector,” Karagülle said.
Also, the Ministry of Health along with the Ministry of Tourism are working together focusing on three different aspects of the health tourism industry: Medical and health care tourism, thermal medical tourism and, spa and wellness tourism. Being well supported by the government enabled Turkey’s health tourism professionals to implement strict technical and medical standards, and reached out an international image of quality.
To incorporate a country in the health tourism niche market, each country should focus on its own traditional health practices and systems, Karagülle adviced, while specifying treatment options and types. “New health institutions besides the JCI certificated hospitals such as ‘Spaspitals’ or ‘Estespitals’ should be created and implemented,” Karagülle said.
About the Author
Anne-Line Crochet is Communications Intern for Medical Tourism Association. With a Masters degree in political science, a Minor in journalism, Anne-Line provides professional expertise to our public relations and editorial functions. Previously a staff writer for French publications Fragil and Ouest-France, she is fluent in English and French; and conversant in Spanish and Russian languages. Anne-Line writes for MTA’s Medical Tourism Magazine and Health Tourism Magazine. She can be reach at AnneLine@medicaltourismassociation.com