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January 2019 – Edition 18

TAKING WELLNESS TO EXTREMES

‘Extreme wellness’ is hard to define, but it represents a growing segment of the wellness sector, albeit one that is quintessentially niche.

The Global Wellness Summit does offer a definition: “Extreme challenges, treatments and experiences (that) are redefining human limits and giving us new ways to take control of our health and wellness – and opening up a wealth of ‘super’ powers to everyday, ordinary humans.”

In practice, extreme wellness represents a mix of activities at the intersection of all-round wellness and adventure: practicing yoga in extreme places; skiing in Antarctica; sharing a tent with a shaman in the Gobi desert  – to name a few.

It’s hard to tell what this adds up to in financial terms, but for the moment it’s largely a US phenomenon (though many people around the world engage in these activities without being aware of the ‘extreme wellness’ label).

“Extreme wellness represents a mix of activities at the intersection of all-round wellness and adventure”

For the wellness and hospitality industry, the rapid growth of extreme wellness means it’s a rising trend that can’t be ignored. It’s probably safe to observe from a distance for now, and this is one trend likely to remain confined to the wealthiest segments of the wellness-obsessed population. But there will undoubtedly be business opportunities – and specialized boutiques have already found a market providing services to ‘aficionados’.

Thierry Malleret, C-founder and Director, Well Intelligence

HOSTS WITH THE MOST

Airbnb for Work – the business travel arm of the home sharing platform – has grown in just four years to account for 15 per cent of Airbnb’s total bookings, with 700,000 companies using its services. That’s the latest evidence of the agility and responsiveness of a company now valued at $31 billion.

Further evidence comes from the recent acquisition of French concierge and property management company Luckey Homes in France. That’s a key market for Airbnb with over 500k listings and a total of 13 million guests and hosts, as well as Paris being Airbnb’s most in-demand destination globally.  More significantly, this new purchase takes Airbnb into new accommodation services, beyond being a platform and marketplace.

In Japan, where new regulations caused Airbnb to carry out a listings cull in June 2018, it has re-grouped and joined an international vacation rentals group along with booking.com, Homeaway and others – with the blessing of the Japan Tourism Agency. This new transparent enterprise will be a key player in providing beds ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Olympics in 2020 – a possible model for other countries to follow.

“The takeaway for the hospitality and travel industry as a whole is the agility and innovative approach that Airbnb consistently demonstrates”

The takeaway for the hospitality and travel industry as a whole is the agility and innovative approach that Airbnb consistently demonstrates. It continues to provide a  financial wellbeing solution to many hosts, is consistently ‘on point’ in its customer communications and core values and proves relentlessly how quickly the platform can mobilize to seize market opportunity.

For local and national governments, there’s also a lesson. Tighter and more collaborative policy and regulation (as in Japan) will help to solve the issues connected to taxable income and the negative impact to society infrastructure in cities where Airbnb has proliferated in the extreme – such as Palma, Barcelona and Venice.

Anni Hood, Co-founder and Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

EXPERIENCES 1 THINGS 0

Fast-fashion retailer ASOS  (“as seen on screen”) has seen its shares plummet by 40% after a profits warning.  Other fashion stores have been discounting heavily to bolster sales, and the entire fast fashion industry faces questions about the growing lean of retail spend giving way to experiential pursuit.

In other news, luxury retail juggernaut LVMH has agreed to acquire hotel group Belmond for $3.2billion – a tasty multiple of 20 times 2019 forecast earnings. Average multiples in the sector are closer to 12.
What unites these two stories? Some retailers are struggling and branching out into experience. And it’s not just hard-pressed Millennials leading this consumer-driven trend. Belmond competes against the likes of upmarket hoteliers Four Seasons, Rosewood and Mandarin Oriental, beating them on quality assurance rating and Net Promoter scores, according to Cowen equity research. The Boston Consulting Group predicts that experiences will account for 66% of the total luxury market by 2022.

“Some retailers are struggling and branching out into experience”

LVMH wasn’t previously considered in the running for Belmond, and the purchase hasn’t harmed the value of its shares or predicted earnings. Given the market trend, this may be an indicator of future strategy. It is speculated that the Belmond acquisition is unlikely to be the last for LVMH.

Anni Hood, Co-founder and Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

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