Marketing Global Luxury Spa and Wellness Trends, Experiences, and Challenges

Marketing Global Luxury Spa and Wellness Trends, Experiences, and Challenges

Ingrid Y. Lin (University of Hawaii – Manoa, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8606-9.ch011
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Luxury hotel and resort spas have been perceived and criticized for their similarities and for not having a true authentic or culturally thematic identity, and for losing their original intention of a spa experience due to rapid commercialization. Empirical research relating to spa management is also limited. The purposes of this chapter are (1) to highlight some of the important global market trends that force all sectors of the travel industry to gear towards a healthy, wellness-minded concept in designing their products and services; (2) to define wellness tourism and the meaning of spa; (3) to address several under-researched variables that account for a crucial role in differentiating or characterizing a spa's identity and customers' preferences or perceived authenticity of a spa. Relevant literature is reviewed. Theories from multiple fields are applied. Future research and managerial implications will also be discussed in the content of this chapter.
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The Meaning Of “Spa”

“Spa” or “health through water” includes various meanings from different countries, cultures, and languages. The word spa derives from the influence of the Belgian town called Spa, where a thermal spring was discovered in the 14th century (Tubergen & Van der Linden, 2002). Some of its various meanings from Latin are “espa,” meaning fountain (Tubergen & Van der Linden, 2002), “spagere” (to scatter, sprinkle, moisten), and “Sanitas per aquas” (health through water) (Tubergen & Van der Linden, 2002, p. 273). Johnson and Redman (2008) postulate that the underpinning substance of spa lies in the forms that water brings into existence (i.e., ice, cold, cool, hot, warm, steam, etc.). De Vierville (2003) claimed that

Regardless of the spa type, the true purpose of a spa is to provide, through some form of the waters, helpful health services and treatments that are relaxing, restful, regenerating and socially re-creative… A spa is an eco-sociocultural learning community that attempts to bring together and truthfully integrate all the dynamic dimensions of time and space, temperatures, touch and therapeutic treatments within a supporting context of goodness, beauty, harmony and wholeness of nature. (p. 23).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Well-Being: A good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, prosperity and welfare.

Servicescape: A servicescape is composed of numerous elements such as the color, music, scent, and layout and design and is the physical environment of a service organization where customers experience the service.

Luxury: A hedonic pleasure out of the ordinary allowed to oneself; a material or an expensive product or service conducive to sumptuous living, usually a delicacy, elegance, or refinement of living rather than a necessity.

Competitive Advantages: Benefits or means specially favorable to success over competitors-- offering customers greater value (e.g., lower prices or providing more benefits that justify higher price).

Core Competencies: Something that the company is best at doing or offering that distinguishes the company from its competitors.

SPA: “Health through water”; fountain. Water and the form it takes is the core foundation.

Authentic: Original, trustworthy, unique, different, not false or copied.

Market Trends: External macro-environmental impacts that an organization has very little or no control over and are likely to affect the marketing in which a company operates.

Experience: The process of personally encountering or interacting with a thing, a person, or the overall environment of a particular place that occur in the course of time; it is the totality of the cognitions given by perception and affection given by sensation; all that is perceived, learned, understood, and remembered.

Differentiation: Separation. If a company has a distinct differentiation; that means a company has unique characteristic that separates itself from among its competitors. What separates the company from its competitors?

Wellness: An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life: the balance and harmony of health, body, mind, spirit, quality of life, and well-being.

BRAND: A name or a log that has its distinctive identity, character, or positioning.

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