How can the wellness industry support us through the aftermath of 2020?

Jan 02, 2021

How can the wellness industry support us through the aftermath of 2020? 

Who better to tell us than Abi Selby, founder of Spabreaks.com? Spabreaks.com is a spa booking service working with more than 700 spa destinations in the UK and overseas and arranging spa days and breaks for up to 6,000 people each week. From a small team of three, Spa Breaks has grown to a family of more than 90 members of staff working from their Brighton office.


Now the leading spa booking and recommendation platform in Europe, Spabreaks.com strives to offer the best experience. That means the best customer service, multiple booking options, a wide variety of packages, exclusive spas and locations, and expert advice. All backed up with the 2020 inspired Spa Breaks Buy With Confidence and best price guarantees.

Abi reflects on 2020 and predicts changes in spa offerings and packages for 2021.


What’s new in the spa industry in 2021?

2020 was an extremely challenging year for everyone, especially in the spa industry. It didn’t just close the doors of many an institution, both temporarily and in some instances permanently, but it also raised serious questions for therapists as well. How can you protect yourself? How can you protect your clients? What will the future of the spa industry look like? We spoke to one of the spa industry’s leading authorities, Founder of Spabreaks.com - Europe’s leading spa booking agency - Abi Selby, to ask her what her data and intuition tell her about consumer trends in the world of spa in 2021.


What do you think will be the short term impact of Covid-19 on the spa industry?

I think the immediate impact is that people really just want to get away. They have been stuck at home a lot in the last 12 months and as movement eases up, I think people are eager to go to nice places.


For some, it’s about spending quality time alone - especially where they have busy home lives with children and partners or are living with friends. For others it’s about having an opportunity to spend quality time with someone they’ve only really been able to connect with digitally. Of course, spas are perfect for both of these goals.


The other thing that we’re seeing is that people are booking several short UK breaks or spa days - travelling a little and often rather than on one or two long holidays. I think this is in part because anxiety over job security and money means that people need little luxuries but don’t want to spend large amounts of money or take a long time away from work in one go. I think it’s also the ongoing anxiety over local lockdowns and potentially having to cancel. However, there’s clearly a demand for travel.


What about in the long-term?

I think the other really clear impact of Covid-19 is the increasing focus on our wellbeing. An interest in wellness has been on the rise for a long time, but 2020 really altered the emphasis. Where it still had the ring of being a luxury indulgence for many, last year taught us the importance of our wellbeing on multiple levels. It’s not just about eating well and exercising, but about being able to create boundaries to support our physical and mental wellbeing.


With the work from home culture and so many people feeling isolated, the divisions between work and rest became blurred in 2020 and lots of people really struggled with mental wellbeing like never before. That, and the more obvious health threat to our loved ones of Covid-19 itself, has given us all a renewed appreciation for building time for health and wellbeing into our everyday lives. I think lots of us have recognised the power of little rituals and practices - whether it’s a regular massage or aromatherapy in the home - as part of a much more holistic approach to everyday wellness.


The other thing that I think has really been on the rise is the anxiety driven by looking at ourselves on video calls all the time. It has had a real impact on lots of peoples’ self confidence. I think there’s a chance that we will see a rise in our focus on skincare, dermatology and to some extent maybe even aesthetics and non-invasive cosmetic procedures and treatments.


Are spa goers still enthusiastic about going to spas?

Yes, very much so. When people have been allowed to travel, our year on year sales and enquiries have actually been up on 2019. However, changing regulations, local lockdowns and national lockdowns have made it very difficult for people to feel confident about making plans in advance.


After the first lockdown we instigated a Book with Confidence policy, to add flexibility in a lockdown situation, but in many cases people have chosen to book last minute instead. If anything I would say that people are showing a greater enthusiasm for spa breaks than ever before, and are definitely taking their value more seriously. So as long as we can continue to present safe and supportive environments, and packages that allow for meaningful experiences under the changing regulations, we absolutely have an important role to play in supporting the nation’s wellbeing.


Which treatments are people booking?

It will come as no surprise that massages are the most popular treatments to book, especially when visiting spas for the first time. However, I think this is in part because a massage is a concept that many of us are familiar with. My team often recommend that spa guests try a facial or a scrub, depending on the time of year, emphasising that the right one can be as effective for relaxation as a massage - sometimes more so.


I think there will be an increase in the number of facials that are booked as a result of the ongoing rise in video call communications, and as first time spa goers become more confident in their experiences, I think we will see more people experimenting with different wellbeing experiences.


Therapists are extremely careful when it comes to protecting the wellbeing of spa guests. However, for anyone who wants to relax but is concerned about touch therapies post Covid, there are also the self-administered experiences such as mud rasuls. They are offered by lots of spas and are increasingly popular, especially for couples and friends on a spa break together.


What do you think spas can do in order to support customers in getting what they want/need?

I think the really important thing is to think about the whole spa experience and to build packages that still feel extremely fulfilling, even when there are restrictions in place regarding social distancing and touch treatments.


The important thing on a spa break is for guests to feel safe, relaxed and looked after. So, try to create packages that incorporate the treatment experience with meals, maybe activities like walks in the gardens or wellbeing talks, and (when the weather permits) more creative experiences, like picnic hampers to enjoy in the grounds, and spa gifts to take home.


Thinking of the wellbeing experience as a whole gives people the chance to really make the most of their day or break and remind them of how powerful a spa experience can be.


Join our mailing list to receive weekly tips, inspiration, and industry highlights.