The Global Spa & Wellness Summit, an international organization representing senior executive leaders in the spa and wellness industries, gathered mid-September in Marrakech, Morocco for the 8th Annual Global Spa & Wellness Summit. In addition to economic development trends, the Summit revealed 10 major shifts that are expected to impact the $3.4 trillion wellness industry. Here, a summary of the 10 trends to look out for…

Architecture and Design Reboot:
For decades, the spa industry has relied on Asian-influences to guide not only spa menus but also the look and feel of its facilities. Envelope-pushing designs promise to inspire a complete re-think in how to approach spa architecture and importantly, create sustainable designs that increase, rather than decrease enjoyment.

Authenticity in Overdrive:
Authenticity, the seeking of local, indigenous experiences, has long been a rallying cry in spa and wellness treatments but mass urbanization and the rise of the Millennials have ratcheted up an insistence for “can’t get anywhere else” experiences.

Outsmarting Your Genes: Personalized Preventative Medicine:
As personalized genetic testing continues to get not only more sophisticated but also more affordable, revealing chronic diseases and conditions (cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, obesity, etc.) that individuals are prone to, and offering subsequent treatments and lifestyle recommendations, are in full force. Epigenetic testing (identifying enzymes that are implicated in a number of cancer, immunological and neurodegenerative conditions) is already being performed at medical and destination spas around the world.

Generational and Gender Shift to Youth and Women: Spa and wellness marketers need to focus more on emerging generations – Millennials and Generation Z. A massive demographic shift from male to female is occurring. Due in part to their longer lives, and increasing wealth and education (70 percent of students in universities today are women), women will grow rapidly in influence. 

Urbanization to Supersede Suburbanization:
The future will have a marked move away from suburbanization to urbanization, and in 2030, 80 percent of all people will live in urban settings. About 200 countries will quickly shift to one of 600 cities, and, in a world ruled by cities, inhabitants will crave nature and simplicity but also extreme fitness, beauty and wellness.

The Loneliness Epidemic:
Urbanization, technology and demographic shifts are driving an overarching sense of “aloneness” that spa and wellness centers will help abate. Thirty years from now, 60 percent of households will be single. As an industry of touch, spas can combat this trend, delivering connectedness in a world that continues to isolate.

Wellness Tourism Momentum Continues: Less than a year ago, The Global Spa & Wellness Summit GSWS and long-term research partner SRI International launched the concept of wellness tourism to the world. Today, governments and companies are embracing this key market segment with an estimated value of $494 billion and growth of 12.5 percent year-on-year.

Authentic African Renaissance: Africa will be at the heart of wellness tourism explosion. This will be furthered as there becomes a clearer recognition of the cultural identities and unique approaches to health, well-being and beauty in the more than 50 countries that make up Africa.

Technology on Fast Forward: Technology will not only remain at the forefront of our world but it will embed itself even deeper, altering the way we do everything–from how we shop to how companies market to us. 3D printing will deliver products on demand, wearable technology will shape wellness, and location specific marketing will push offers. Breakthroughs in new materials will change how our world is shaped and artificial intelligence will change how we interact. Information overload will send people looking for a health and wellness concierge.

Wellness Communities Make Comeback: Whole communities – and even whole cities – are being designed and branded with wellness at their very core. This market is now valued at $100 billion. Mixed-use properties, the combination of hotels and residences, have emerged as a potentially viable financial model in this sector. For more information on the Top 10 shifts in the wellness market, visit

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