Wellness is a relatively new concept that is making itself known writes Jane Wilson, founder of thewellnesstraveller. It embraces lifestyle and health with no parameters or rules. And yet the over 50s market hasn’t grown up with wellness as part of their vocabulary or indeed with the plethora of treatments and therapies under its name. Health and fitness for this group used to mean yoga and aerobics while the concept of health farms was then in its infancy – places to relax, dine on calorie-controlled meals and indulge in a body massage.

Fast forward to the present day and spas are everywhere, advancing to medi-spas; health-clubs have expanded from tennis clubs to high tech gyms and adrenaline-filled complexes.  Spa menus read like a body encyclopaedia – facials to hydrate or reverse gravity, machines to de-wobble bingo wings and body massages imported from Sweden to Thailand.  There’s detoxing, F.X. Mayr nutritional programmes, Tibetan bowl therapy, forest bathing and gender therapy; new experiences creating a whole new culture.  Wellness is weaving itself into the fabric of our lives yet there is a lack of understanding of the layers underneath.

Wellness travel is alive, well and booming and becoming more creative. This is resulting in a myriad of opportunities which can be tailored to the needs and aspirations of the over 50s market, whether it is a wellness cruise on the Rhine, a day spa in London or an exclusive high-altitude heath resort in Switzerland.

Iceland’s revitalising Blue Lagoon, India’s ancient art of Ayurveda, curative mineral springs in the Czech Republic, Israel’s medicinal mud from the Dead Sea and spiritual healing of the indigenous tribes of North America. There’s slow, mindful travel running along the tracks of rail travel or afloat on river and ocean cruises. And many of these journeys are those desired, high-spend aspirational bucket-list holidays.

Wellness travel is a sector of the industry which appeals to the over 50s who have time on their hands and are eager to invest in their health which is high on their agenda.  However, after the ravages of the pandemic and a general concern over the logistics of travel in our current climate (strikes, covid outbreaks, documentation), the decision process is hindered by many obstacles. Marketing wellness travel needs to address these concerns to make planning easier.

Top tips and guidelines for marketing wellness to the over 50s

  • This large and diverse sector is aspirational and likes to be associated with fashionable new activities but seeks the safety and security of a trusted organisation.
  • This group is time rich and endowed with life’s experiences but seek comfort and reassurance.
  • There is a thirst for knowledge and desire to visit new places, experience new cultures and try new interests but with the ease of organising.
  • Itineraries need to be clear and detailed with brand credible, relative links – this market has the time to research and appreciates reliable sites, brands and testimonials.
  • They often prefer to speak to a representative and expect a prompt response to an email.
  • Social media has not replaced word of mouth, weekend papers or TV documentaries and travel shows.
  • Clearly define your wellness message and product label eg. Viva Cruises’ Wellness River Cruise
  • Use language that is personal and in context to integrate your audience
  • Use images of similar aged people with whom your audience can identify
  • Instil confidence by defining and categorising levels of activities, e.g., introductory courses, different levels of fitness for excursions, demonstrating an understanding of different abilities
  • Health benefits should be clearly stated and backed up with reliable and trustworthy sources.
  • State risks to health conditions
  • Ensure that pricing policies are transparent
  • If possible, offer door-to-door transport (as Saga do for example)
  • Ensure that appropriate insurance is offered

Jane Wilson is founder and editor of www.thewellnesstraveller.co.uk as well as a freelance journalist specialising in travel and wellness.