November 2018 – Edition 11


The global ageing of society – one in three born in rich countries today will live to 100 – poses the question of how the elderly can retain their health and find purpose and meaning.

These are questions fundamental not only for our health systems but also for individual happiness. The simple answer, according to Marc Freedman, a social entrepreneur and author of the forthcoming How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations, is that elderly people must spend time with kids and young adults. Age integration, not segregation, is the answer.

There’s ample evidence from evolutionary anthropology and developmental psychology that old and young complement each other. Forms of segregation such as retirement communities are the precise opposite of what favors wellbeing in old age. Increasingly, we’ll see places that make connections across generations happen more naturally and frequently. A couple of examples: Nesterly, a US start-up which pairs older people who have room to spare in their homes with university students in need of reduced rent and able to do chores. And ‘senior living’ communities in the US and elsewhere with artist-in-residence programs that provide students with free housing in return for performing for the residents and participating in meals and other activities.

“Forms of segregation such as retirement communities are the precise opposite of what favors wellbeing in old age.”

This is also the way to go at national level. Singapore is investing US $3 billion to build “a cohesive society with intergenerational harmony,” including co-locating eldercare and childcare facilities “to maximize opportunities for inter-generational interactions”. The take-away for business: shared sites that combine hotel, student dorm and retirement home may well become the norm.

Thierry Malleret, Managing partner Well Intelligence


Research from the Global Wellness Institute shows that the number of spas worldwide grew by almost 60% between 2015 and 2017, with more than 18,000 additional facilities contributing to a total of 48,248 globally. These aren’t all new builds but reflect a significant increase in new online listings. Revenues grew by 42% (from $25.6bn to $36.4bn) but the average revenue per hotel/resort spa has fallen significantly.

The reason for this decline in average revenues is not spelt out. But it’s a fair bet that a sizeable proportion of all the facilities available globally are devoid of any resonant depth or guest appeal. If you’re hoping to provide guest value or make money by simply having some rooms with treatment couches and a menu of services available you’d be better offering nothing at all.

The financial value and profit potential of a spa – long the subject of debate – are down to many nuanced aspects that collectively deliver success. The worst scenario financially is a ‘treatment rooms only’ model in a traditional hotel – in which spa bookings rely solely on hotel guests. The best is where there’s a range of potential customer profiles such as resident guests, members, day guests and local residents. Other factors include the wellness culture and leadership within the property; and to what extent spa facilities are a destination in their own right that drives room bookings – in which case a portion of room revenues may be attributed to the spa.

“The financial value and profit potential of a spa are down to many nuanced aspects that collectively deliver success”

Growth in spa facilities is happening but performance is low because too many adhere to a model that is not crafted to meet market demand. For an existing build, knowing your market, creating customised services and robust bookings infrastructure are the bare bones of establishing a profitable facility.

Anni Hood, Managing partner Well Intelligence


Personal debt is on the rise. In the US, household debt has passed its pre-financial crisis peak, hitting a record $13.2tn in the first quarter of 2018. In China, where citizens were once known for their thriftiness, household borrowings are fast becoming a worry. And in the UK, household outgoings exceeded income for the first time in 30 years during 2017, by an average of about £900, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Personal debt and worries about how bills will be met represent a major contributor to mental stress, anxiety and depression. That said, it’s not always apparent which is the cause and which the effect. University of Southampton data from 2013 found that 25% of people with mental health problems were in debt.

“Personal debt and worries about how bills will be met represent a major contributor to mental stress, anxiety and depression”

The good news is that companies are beginning to incorporate financial wellbeing safety nets into their employee policies and infrastructure. These range from helping staff pay off student loans (Aetna and Abbott Laboratories in the US), to allocating days for employees to spend getting their finances in order. A Mayor of London initiative, the London Healthy Workplace Charter seeks to drive a similarly anchored policy.

No industry or business sector is exempt from financial worries amongst employees. Providing education and support, although not yet evaluated, is likely to deliver tangible business benefits – such as increased productivity and retention.

Anni Hood, Managing partner Well Intelligence

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