THE HOSPITALITY WELLBEING BAROMETER

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text el_class="barometer-decorated-text"]This newsletter is divided into two parts: (1) Macro outlook, outlining and assessing the impact of economic, geopolitical, societal, environmental and technological changes on the industry; (2) Micro insights supported by concrete examples of trends and changes occurring within the industry. We believe that the combination of the two will allow you to keep ahead of the curve.

The convergence of hospitality and wellbeing is shaping disruption and innovation alike.

The hospitality industry encompasses all businesses that provide specific and non-essential services to customers. It is broader than the travel and tourism industry stricto sensu and includes businesses such as restaurants, beauty clinics and theme parks, to name but a few.

MACRO OUTLOOK

Our macro outlook analyses the leading global trends and their potential impact on the industry.

 ECONOMICS

USD STRENGTH REVERSING – BUT EUROPE BULLISHNESS. Since January, the dollar has lost more than 11% against the euro and about 8% against a basket of major currencies, wrong-footing many analysts who were structurally bullish about the greenback. Its fate is now subject to the vagaries of the US presidential administration that has given the markets a strong taste for the unexpected (on the downside). If the US is more at risk than the markets thought in the past, the value of the USD might erode further, with major global implications. Tourism being so sensitive to currency movements, the destinations that will benefit are those priced in USD (the US and all countries whose currency is pegged to the USD). But it’s important to remember that currency movements are by nature cyclical. Longer-term, and irrespective of the strength or not of the EUR, there is every reason to be bullish on Europe. The strength of its hospitality industry is reflected in the recent rankings of the WEF Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index. The “old” continent is the region of the world with the strongest overall competitiveness performance in travel & tourism. It boasts six of the ten most competitive countries in the T&T sector (Spain, France, Germany and Italy rank respectively 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 8th). Last year, Europe attracted 620 million of the 1.2 billion international visitors. Wellness is at the core of its offering.

WELLNESS EVERYWHERE AND NOWHERE. The point above about wellness being at “the core of the offering” begs the following question: what defines wellbeing and wellness, and how is this captured by data for the purpose of industry figures? We suspect some smoke and mirrors activity in wellness stats. The following personal observation from Chamonix (France) where we are putting the final touch to this macro section might help to illustrate the train of our thinking. 8,000 athletes (cheered on by twice that amount of friends and fans flooding into Chamonix to share the feel-good endorphins) just completed the gruelling UTMB (Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc). These runners epitomize what wellbeing is all about: they have a strong sense of purpose, are satisfied with their lives, are fit, immersed in nature but socially connected, sleep a lot, eat well; yet, many of them are unaware of the wellness dimension to their activity and in some cases even that the concept exists at all. The point is: none of this UTMB-related activity will be captured in wellness statistics, but the amount spent by the contingent crowd in hospitality and retail will make its way into travel & tourism national statistics. How then can the industry better define the boundaries of its realm of activity? At the moment, there is a real risk of “wellness being everywhere and nowhere”(in the words of Rupert Schmid) which comes with the following problem: you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

PREPARE FOR TOURISM AND WELLNESS INVASION FROM EMERGING MARKETS! Holidaying abroad is ranking at the top of the emerging middle class’ wish list. This means that the rising tide of international travellers from middle-income countries (China, India, Malaysia, the UAE, etc.) will be the biggest story of the next few years in the global hospitality industry. Chinese outbound tourism, in particular, will shape the future of the global wellness industry for years to come. Chinese outbound tourists will reach the 200 million benchmark by 2020 (18% growth last year, Y-o-Y, compared to an average of 3.9% for the world as a whole). Chinese travellers are now “bigger” than the American ones, in terms of both outbound numbers and spending (last year, they spent USD261 billion abroad). Why will this benefit the hospitality and wellbeing industries at large, but not so much the retail industry? Because: (1) Chinese tourists are becoming increasingly health / wellness conscious, transitioning from material consumption to something more centred on wellbeing aspirations; (2) China’s population and “mass effect” are so huge that even a marginal increase in outbound tourism equates to substantial absolute numbers at destination. Asia (where 82% of China’s overseas trips take place) and Europe will be the two main beneficiaries.

BREXIT AND HOSPITALITY. Negotiations are at a standstill and the cost of indecision is rising for the UK, negatively affecting the GBP and growth. It’s becoming harder to imagine a favourable scenario in which the UK authorities complete the myriad of necessary agreements with the EU within the required timeframe. The GBP could depreciate further but the UK economy won’t benefit (as movements in exchange rates have a declining impact on trade), with the notable exception of hospitality (travel & tourism + retail for inbound tourists). Almost 11 million foreigners visited Britain between April and June, 8% more than during the same period in 2016. Tourism (which accounts for just under half of total visits) increased by 20% while business trips fell by 4%. The forward booking situation is bullish for the UK as a whole and the positive effect of the GBP depreciation seems to supersede the negative effect of concerns about terrorism. However, net migration (the difference between those entering the UK and those leaving it) fell by nearly a quarter, from 327,000 last year to 246,000 this year (a three-year low).

FAST FOOD NOT CORRELATED WITH INCOME? A new study conducted in the US concludes that poor people are actually less likely to eat fast food than those in the middle class, and only a little more likely than the rich. This comes as a complete surprise: low income is normally considered as a good predictor of obesity due to the assumption that people with low revenues have a proclivity to eat junk food that is cheaper and more “rewarding” than “good” food. Is this specific to the US? Possibly, for it is encouraged by highly visible public figures like President Trump and Warren Buffett who profess to love junk food and sugary drinks. If other similar studies corroborate these results, this will suggest that limiting fast-food restaurants in low-income neighbourhoods (as some US cities like Los Angeles recommended in the past) is not the most appropriate policy to reduce obesity. At a time when the obesity epidemic keeps growing – according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 30% more people worldwide died from being obese in 2015 than in 1990 – any piece of research that can inform better policy is most welcome.

GEOPOLITICS

POPULISM’S EFFECT ON TOURISM. It’s hard to tell to what extent global populism is negatively impacting hospitality in general and tourism in particular because it’s exceedingly difficult to disentangle specific causes one from the other. Currency movements and security concerns are as important as the attitude and welcome reserved for foreigners. In Turkey, for example, the recent revival in international tourism (tentative numbers point to a solid rebound after the number of international travellers dropped by about a third, to 25 million people – the lowest in ten years – last year) is playing out against the backdrop of President Erdogan hardening his illiberal stance. In another vein, has Brexit and the anti-immigration discourse had any impact on the country’s tourism attractiveness, or did the GBP depreciation exercise a stronger effect? In the US, there isn’t enough hard data yet to make a serious pronouncement, but some anecdotal evidence points to a “Trump tourism slump”. Our conviction is the following: in the longer term, countries that turn inward will deter tourism. An unwelcoming attitude towards foreigners and the resultant more complicated logistics (queues at custom, rising paperwork to obtain entry, privacy intrusion, etc.) will put off formerly willing travellers. It’s not that the overall number of tourists will contract globally, but simply that outbound tourists will drop destinations that they find unfriendly and go to their second best choice.

SOCIETAL ISSUES

SOCIAL COERCION AND REPUTATION. The James Damore affair, named after the Google engineer who authored a memo that caused an internet uproar and got him sacked, is a taste of things to come. The reason is that social media may at any time pick up on a story that could inflict reputational damage on a particular business or an individual related to it (the CEO, a senior executive or almost any employee for that matter). Hospitality companies already run the risk of being targeted by fake news (e.g. the recent fake tweets promising that Starbucks would offer free frappuccinos to undocumented US migrants); but more and more, they will also submit themselves to a kind of social coercion and being forced to scrutinize what they, and their employees and stakeholders, say. What happened with Google may happen with any hospitality and wellbeing company. At the moment, the only way to mitigate this risk is to actively monitor social media activity. Soon, companies will have to invest in reputational control and in combatting false reports on social media as they now do with cyber-risk.

CELEBRITY WELLBEING RISK. An increasing number of overpriced wellness products propped up by self-appointed celebrity gurus claim to deliver benefits that are neither science- nor evidence-based. These pricey products perpetuate a sense of inequality and have a tendency to position wellbeing as an exclusive domain of the affluent. Not only do they give wellness a bad name, but they also tend to produce the antithesis of what “real” wellbeing is all about. They take their customers on the “hedonic” treadmill instead of helping them focus on “eudoaimonic” wellbeing (the one that gives a real sense of purpose and satisfaction).

DIET, MENTAL ILLNESS AND OBESITY. There is increasing scientific evidence that a diet high in saturated fats and sugars affects not only the body, but the brain as well. An increasing number of studies suggest that a bad diet has a negative effect on brain functions and cognitive capabilities. This will compel governments to strengthen (still further) their campaigns against obesity. Following the lead of Western governments, Asia is now becoming a “champion” in this respect, with Singapore at the forefront. The city-state’s regulator has just received a commitment from seven major companies (including Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo) that they’ll cap at 12% the sugar content of all their drinks by 2020. Other countries such as the Philippines and Brunei have implemented a tax on sugary drinks.

THE US WELLNESS PARADOX. The US is obsessed with wellness, and yet it is one of the most unwell countries in the rich world. Not only is polarization increasing (bad for societal wellbeing), but many economic and wellbeing indicators such as average annual wages, labour force participation, life expectancy at birth, overall mortality rate, or healthcare coverage, point to the fact that the US is becoming the “sick man” of the OECD. This paradox is most apparent in Silicon Valley. Tech is obsessed with various forms of wellness (food, physical exercise, wellness apps, etc.); and yet its workplace culture is branding workaholism as a desirable lifestyle choice, celebrating its own exploitation and making a mockery of the true meaning of wellbeing. At a more general level, the widespread reluctance in the US to take time off negatively impacts workers’ productivity. The scientific evidence that taking vacation restores energy and reduces stress, hence improving productivity is incontrovertible. This partly explains why the US, despite its incredible energy and entrepreneurship, is not only “unwell”, but also lagging in terms of productivity.

THE ENVIRONMENT

SUSTAINABILITY INVESTMENT GAINING TRACTION. Investors are committing more to sustainability themes, which favours wellbeing industries. The investment implication is that private and institutional investors will commit more to sustainability themes, whatever they may be: climate change, sustainable consumption, etc. – all intertwined with wellbeing. More than 60% of the world’s 300 largest companies already disclose their commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with a majority having a positive track record in “sustainable behaviour.” This theme can only gain traction, favouring European companies that are on average ahead of the pack in this particular race. There is a generational effect in all this: millennials are more wellness-conscious than previous generations and consume on average more wellness products than any other generation. This means that, increasingly, wellness products will have to be “sustainable,” that is: organic and ethical. The rise of sustainability finds another echo in the wellness theme. Like sustainability, wellness is growing at an amazing pace, but investors should beware of a bubble forming in some corners of the industry. Despite venture capital money flowing into new ventures like Goop (that will soon publish a magazine and launch various “experiences” like its new Summit in addition to its line of products with dubious wellness credentials), an increasing number of scientists are now warning about the shallow science behind many wellness products currently inundating the market. How long will it be before Goop and a few other companies that sit at the epicentre of the “wellness-industrial complex” are hit by the bursting of the bubble? Nobody can pinpoint exactly when a bubble pops, but we predict that boutique fitness / health clubs in London and New York will be among the first to feel the impact when it does.

HOTEL AND RETAIL OUTFITS ENCOURAGING CLIENTS TO WALK AND BIKE. A British large-scale study has just demonstrated the substantial health benefits of cycling to the office. It concludes that commuting on a bike is associated with a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer and 52% lower risk of dying from heart disease. These findings will motivate cities and local governments to further incentivize their commuters to walk or cycle to their place of work. Companies will follow. Like wifi services, providing bikes free of charge will become a standard offering for hotels and some service companies (like real estate agents in cities).

TECHNOLOGY

TECH AND MENTAL WELLNESS. The iGen is on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades. Research strongly suggests that much of this deterioration can be traced to their smartphones. The more time teens spend looking at their screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. The polemic over what our smartphones are doing to us is bound to gain more prominence over the months and years to come. Tristan Harris, a former product manager at Google whose critique of the big platforms has gone viral, accuses them of “hijacking our minds.” He explains how Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat and others manipulate our attention to keep us hooked to our screen for as long and as frequently as possible. In the meantime, recent research shows that the mere presence of one’s own smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity. Digital detox as a wellness offering has a bright future!

TECH / AGEING / INEQUALITY. Tech start-ups are at the forefront of the fight against the inevitability of ageing. A handful of companies like Arivale, Metabolic Code, Color Genomics and Forward (there are many others) are now in the business of optimizing health by harnessing the power of predictive analytics through in-depth analysis of an individual’s genetics, physiology and psychology. Their claim is that these practices will soon define the normal standard of care with personalised / high-tech medicine in theory accessible for all. However, the cost of such an approach makes it, in reality, the preserve of the ultra-wealthy. As such, at least in the near future, this is likely to further increase inequalities in the healthcare space.

HOTELS & LODGING

ACQUISITIONS CONTINUE. Hyatt have announced their second wellness acquisition of the year with the purchase of Exhale. This combined with their procurement of Miraval in January (Accor also acquired 5% of Banyan Tree earlier this year) now positions Hyatt as a brand with a wellbeing model for ‘everyday’ as well as immersive, transformational programming. Their CEO, describes these acquisitions as a move to invest in “adjacent spaces” within the hospitality industry. Will those brands making no ostensible move to ‘gear up’ in the wellbeing sector fall behind in consumer desirability? Strategic delaying may be their explanation but the longer the time-lag, the higher the risk of failure to sustain guest and traveller interest, particularly at the high end of the market where wellbeing pursuit flourishes most.

CORPORATE WELLBEING FORMULAS. The subject of wellbeing appears ubiquitous in hotel industry circles. Six Senses were named ‘Best Hotel Brand in the World’ by Travel+Leisure. Founded on a mission increasingly focussed on wellbeing for the luxury consumer, their growth and strong positioning is indisputable. However when Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs says (as he did earlier this year) that “Hotel companies have no business doing the wellness programmes we’re doing” there are those who are likely to disagree, Mark Hoplamazian, Hyatt CEO, for one. Jacobs articulated the difference in core business strategy between a Six Senses brand and a traditional hotel brand pointing out that wellbeing is a key anchor versus an amenity option for many hotels. The effect in terms of market position of Hyatt and Accor’s recent acquisitions (see point 1) remain to be seen but they are reportedly “moving quickly” and their direction clear. Nevertheless, at least for now, those hotel chains showing no propensity towards a stronger wellbeing offer don’t appear to be losing out. IHG (ranked 2nd largest hotel group in the world by Llenrock Group) published a rise of 8% operating profit YoY at June 2017 – a group vocal about remaining “strictly a hospitality company” and with no spoken commitment to wellbeing.

DIFFERENTIATION – WHO IS RIGHT? There is a kaleidoscope of wellbeing strategy currently being adopted by hotel companies. In contrast to the Hyatt, and Accor shopping spree and Hilton’s Five Feet to Fitness initiative offering rooms with private fitness equipment, Marriott have chosen to invest strongly in lifestyle brands such as Element, Edition and Aloft. This, together with their partnership with TED and TEDX, and the start of ‘transformational travel’ programmes, suggests their chosen route into wellbeing relates more to culture, community of experience and sustainability/environment. Only time will tell what proves to be the best response to consumer wellbeing needs.

PEOPLE OVER PLACE. A trend is emerging that could enable more actors to access the wellbeing space: a growing consumer tendency to show loyalty to people rather than brands and to choose their wellness destination accordingly. The way Fiona Arrigo, (an internationally acclaimed healer, mentor and life teacher) offers her own Arrigo Programme in global locations whilst maintaining a practice in London is one such example. The annual calendar of temporarily ‘in residence’ masters proposed by retreats such as Ananda and Kamalaya is another. In both examples the calibre of the practitioners is a key draw. This is good news for hospitality groups who do not ostensibly ‘do’ wellness because it enables access to the wellbeing market via experts with an already established client following rather than a ground zero starting point.

ACCELERATION ALONGSIDE DIVERSITY. ‘Select’, the tentative name for Airbnb’s luxury tier, is their perceived advance on the high-end hotel chains. Whilst many hoteliers have said Airbnb is not a threat, Morgan Stanley published a report late in 2016 demonstrating the opposite. Why? Fundamentally, because they have seen more usage than first predicted alongside cannibalisation of traditional hotels. A recent report suggested that the company is growing so fast that they’re adding the equivalent of one entire Hilton Hotel chain’s worth of rooms for rent each year. Thomas Friedman, the NYT columnist, goes as far as predicting that not only is Airbnb poised to be the world’s largest home rental platform but also, the largest jobs platform, creating huge opportunities for those that Friedman calls “self-driving people.”

FOOD

AMAZON’S FORAY INTO WELLNESS – The juggernaut’s USD13.4bn acquisition of Wholefoods is now approved and its strategy clear. It is not by chance that the company has ‘bought in’ to wellness however their agenda is unlikely to be wellness driven. The convenience that Amazon provides will accelerate organic sales growth, underlined further by their announcement of ‘Instant Pickup’ for purchases such as food, drinks and personal care items. This, amongst many other tech pushes, guarantees speed, convenience and choice for all items, including healthy ones. Amazon’s presence in the health food space will inevitably make opting for healthier produce easier and more accessible financially (for the moment) but that isn’t the real agenda. Amazon is using 400 WholeFoods stores to sell Alexa and make AI omnipresent. What may masquerade as wellbeing promotion is actually a bid to kill traditional retail. On a very different scale Fresh Range, a food tech company in the UK’s West Country, is launching its own niche attack on the supermarket giants. Their mission is to make the process of buying the freshest food from local producers as convenient as shopping online with large supermarket chains. They ensure that consumers get the freshest food (at the time of order the produce may still be in the ground or the fish in the sea) and at fair prices -producers receive the majority of the retail price. But there is a wellness downside to all forms of online shopping (whatever you’re buying) because it means customers barely need to leave their own home. This is likely to feed the increasing mental health issues and further compound the loneliness epidemic, not to mention potentially reducing still further how much individuals walk. There will be no more need just to nip the store…

HOTEL MODEL REINVENTION. There may be an industry antidote to this Amazon-facilitated social isolation. Hospitality is a people business. Whilst as a result of instant tech solutions and social media, society is becoming evermore devoid of human interaction, hospitality and wellbeing hold a highly sought after remedy. Personal service, human connection and relentless guest focus is the blueprint of the hospitality industry. To provide this personable connection with convenience and immediacy is a challenge that the industry is well placed to meet. Extending hotel services beyond the bricks and mortar of the property is happening; the ‘Accor Local’ proposition seeks to change the way people interact with hotels by providing services that face outwards into the local community. This shift away from the norm indicates the industry’s growing realization that it cannot stand still and that the right response to disruption may lie in hotel reinvention with innovation at every juncture.

FOOD CHAIN SUSTAINABILITY. Mitigation against climate change in the food industry is becoming a more urgent consideration for sustainability of the future food chain. A law was passed in May 2017 for insect-based products to be sold commercially under Swiss law. Swiss supermarket chain Coop is offering an insect-based product range in seven towns across the country. Insect burgers and insect balls made up of flour worms and other bugs are some of the products being marketed after two and a half years of development. This may be just the next fad or it could be the start of a viable and sustainable alternative to our current (flawed) food chain.

BEAUTY

‘’WELLNESS FATIGUE.” This term, coined by Vogue, describes the sense of ‘slavery’ people feel in the face of relentless health trends and the resultant exhaustion. Orthorexia nervosa is the condition of an unhealthy obsession with otherwise healthy eating and although on the rise it’s not yet recognised as a clinical diagnosis. For some, ‘wellness excess’ is less about being well and more about status and a perceived elevation of beauty, through purity. The clean eating backlash and movement towards faddish wellness trends founded in pseudoscience that has populated the UK and US media in recent years, amounts to a subtle yet conspicuous form of consumption that is showing no sign of abating. Despite mockery and reported quackery of brands such as Goop and their promotion of “jade eggs for your yoni” and “lifestyle snake oil” the backlash has as yet had no effect on their reported financial success nor their ability to partner with respected publications such as Conde Nast Traveller (they’re publishing a quarterly magazine together). Last year, 18 out of the 20 top sellers in Amazon UK’s food and drink book category had a focus on healthy eating and dieting. The promise of “inner purity and outer beauty” remains enticing to many. The perpetrators of falsely framed ‘authenticity’ are undermining the genuine pursuance of wellbeing, with an expanding celebrity business, floating on a bubble of false perception and belief. We don’t believe it will last.

PUBLIC HEALTH

PERENNIAL ACCESS. Google has recently bought Senosis, a health monitoring start-up based in Seattle, for an undisclosed sum. In short, Senosis is turning smart phones into monitoring devices that collect health metrics to diagnose pulmonary function, haemoglobin counts and other critical health information. This acquisition further endorses Google’s continued interest in the digital health arena. This illustrates the increasing reach and velocity of health tech and its deployment in pursuit of wellbeing. For hospitality and leisure sectors, the tech-facilitated presence of wellbeing within lifestyle can be exploited to accelerate interaction and create service opportunities.

SIMPLICITY AND TRANSPARENCY ARE KEY. In the US a federal court has found against those companies that dub their workplace wellness programs as ‘voluntary’ whilst their employees stand to lose thousands of dollars for not participating. The term ‘voluntary’ remains ill-defined and the evidence suggests that the complexities surround the legality or otherwise of wellness programme-related ‘incentives’ and ‘penalties’ are a long way from resolution. In such a context charlatan programmes or over-intrusive systems run the risk of discrediting the bona fide schemes that genuinely improve health and by the same measure enhance employee productivity. Hilton is the first large hospitality chain to invest in a global workplace wellness programme in their partnership with Thrive Global. They already rank 26th on the Forbes 100 best companies to work for, second only to Kimpton Hotel and Restaurants (14th) from the hospitality sector.

WORK-OUT FOR MORE HOLIDAY. Swedish businesses are promoting three hours of weekly exercise in exchange for an extra week of holiday via employers countrywide. Work out times must be recorded and submitted. This straightforward transparency is in contrast to the convolution previously described. Work places that support and promote simple wellness access and integration into work schedules are proven to achieve more advantageous results and real productivity uplift.

TRAVEL

DISRUPTION CONTINUES. Airbnb have partnered with VICE, the digital news platform to take their “edgy news source” concept into the world of tourism. The product, called VICE Experiences, is a travel package designed and inspired by VICE combined with Airbnb accommodation. This partnership gives ‘real experience’ a unique perspective in travel terms. It is characterized by gritty ‘on the ground’ reporter-style story-finding, plus the opportunity for public participation. Through its agility, rapid reactivity and real community building Airbnb continues to widen the gap between ‘boring’ hotel brands and their fresh, edgy, empathic perception of hospitality and beyond.

VIRTUAL REALITY. VR has the potential to transform the travel and hospitality sector. Companies such as Quantas, British Airways, Air France and Marriott are already using it as a marketing tool by transporting potential guests and travellers into a branded multi-sensory state, evocative of a particular retreat or destination. But the wellness impact of VR goes beyond its usefulness to the industry as a sales technique. Recent research (the meta analysis of fourteen clinical trials and a study funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) of the University of Oxford in the UK to name two) demonstrates the effectiveness of VR in the treatment of a range of mental disorders.

THE RISE AND RISE OF CRUISE. Between 2013-2015 primary purpose wellness tourism trips rose by 2% (GWI) but in the same period the cruise sector (part of the primary purpose sector) quadrupled that growth with 8.87% increase in passenger numbers (CLIA). From 2005-2015 demand for Cruise (number of passengers) has increased 62% amidst notable investment in wellbeing services. Since the late 90’s the cruise industry has embarked on a (so far) successful process of re-inventing itself to move beyond its more traditional older person’s market. The attraction of a younger market (through many wellbeing related activities and brand repositioning) became the turning point in the growth of cruise, not labelled as such at the time. The average age of cruise passengers has dropped from 57yrs to 46yrs and has moved significantly to include the whole family. More latterly, wellbeing programmes have become sophisticated components of many cruise experience products. Partnerships with Canyon Ranch (Celebrity Cruises) and Andrew Weil (Seabourn) are current and in December, Lindblad Expeditions will team up with Exhale for four night cruises of “Exploration, transformation and mindfulness.” From a model perspective, the wellbeing industry has a lot to gain from the formula of the rise of the cruise industry. Similar to Disney, the model captures a family market that anchors sustainability as children grow up and bring their own children to re-live old and create new memories. This year, the industry will invest USD6.8bn in new ocean vessels. The cruise industry’s innovative and intergenerational formula constitutes a sustainable and desirable model that has the potential to be scaled and replicated throughout the wellbeing sector.

MUST-WATCH ISSUES

In the coming weeks, ‘must-watch’ issues include:

1) Keep an eye on whether the USD weakness is of a cyclical or structural nature. If it persists, it will have a wide-ranging impact – positive and negative – on virtually all segments of the hospitality and wellbeing industry around the globe. Currency hedging is a first step.

2) AI, VR and the integration of the smart speaker. As the ability to digitally connect with consumers becomes more sophisticated and bot responses more humanly (emotionally) in tune with us, the expectation of real people skills will increase.

3) Bubbles burst: and bust can follow boom. We expect casualties to occur in wearable fitness trackers, “athleisure” and across companies / boutiques that specialize in fads (diets, wellbeing products whose benefits are not science-based, etc.).