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Not all wellness vacations are created equal. And, of course, the term means different things to different people. So, for the travel advisor, there’s an inherent dilemma to find the right fit for your client.

In the industry’s first glossary of definitions, the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) defines a Wellness Vacation as Wellness Travel powered by a wellness-focused intention. Wellness Vacations/Holidays are typically self-directed with the traveler setting his or her own timetable and schedule. They may also include a Wellness Retreat.

As with many things in life that involve challenges, finding the right fit begins with asking the right questions. The answers you get will not only help you come to know your client better, it will help that client define and articulate their own needs and wants—making your job of finding something perfectly suited, inevitably easier.

Here, in random order, are 10 questions to ask someone looking for help in planning a Wellness Vacation:

  1. What is the goal or intent of a Wellness Vacation? A recent WTA survey—with responses from 2,566 participants—indicated the top three goals for a Wellness Vacation Plan were: 1. Overall, general reboot. 2. Time for self-reflection and 3. Meditation/Mental Health Break. A goal or intention could also be weight loss, learning how to cook and eat more healthfully, to begin a new “fit path” or simply to get away from day-to-day stress and simply “BE.”
  2. What is the one thing your wellness vacation MUST include? It could be anything and most everyone will have a different response. The number one response from survey respondents was healthy food options, followed by accessible nature and third by access to spa treatments.
  3. Do you prefer a guided and tightly scheduled program or something more casual and self-guided. Some clients will need advice and direction on kick-starting a healthy lifestyle. Others are using the vacation to maintain or promote the wellness lifestyle they already live. The overwhelming response from the survey was the desire for a self-guided program with plenty of options.
  4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is peace, quiet and nature to your wellness vacation? The answer may immediately rule out big, busy all-inclusive resorts or a city location.
  5. Do you want to have daily fitness and wellness lifestyle classes and lectures available to you?  Not all properties that claim to offer wellness will include these options so best to check with the properties if this is important to your client.
  6. What type of environment and accommodation is most conducive for you to relax and de-stress? Luxury hotel? Country inn? Cruise? Casual all-inclusive? Other?
  7. Are you interested in having on-site medical personal and wellness professionals (i.e. nutritionists, life coaches, chiropractors and other alternative and complementary therapy practitioners) available to you? 
  8. What is your preferred food choice? For instance, is the client on a special diet or looking for organic, vegan or gluten-free as their preferred food choice? Food is not only one of the cornerstones of wellness living but as our survey indicated healthy food options are the number one must have.
  9. Do you need a full-service spa or will an available massage therapist be enough? While spas continue to be important element for a wellness vacation they are not absolutely necessary. Some clients may demand a full-service spa, others may simply want access to a massage therapist. And, if traveling with a significant other, how important is the availability of a couples’ suite and couples’ lounge areas?
  10. Do you want to be surrounded by like-minded people? The response may suggest you want to avoid a honeymoon destination or a corporate or family resort in favor of a WTA-sanctioned Wellness Resort, Wellness Retreat, or a fitness-based excursion (i.e. cycling, hiking) or a meditation or yoga-focused program. In the WTA survey Solo To Be with the Like-Minded was the number one response to the question: “whom do you/would you prefer to travel with on a Wellness Vacation?”

Unlike most vacations, a wellness vacation is intensely personal. It begins with a specific wellness-related goal or intention, and a successful program allows the traveler to return having reached a set goal even if that goal was simply to take a first step.

Obviously, you will need to stay on top of the ever-expanding number of wellness vacation options available or be prepared to create something customized for your client. Either way, the answers to these questions will not only help you find or create the right fit for your client but will help build a relationship that will encourage him or her to return to you again for travel assistance.

Recommend magazine has partnered with the Wellness Tourism Association to bring you monthly columns to help travel advisors sell wellness travel. This column was written by Anne Dimon, founder/editor of TravelToWellness.com—an online travel magazine for the wellness-minded—and president of the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA). For more information on TravelToWellness, visit traveltowellness.com and for more information on WTA, visit wellnesstourismassociation.org.

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