2020 AGM Day 1 Notes & Take-Aways

Welcome & Introductory Remarks – Andrew Gibson, Chairman

  1. With the current status of COVID we are pleased to have made the decision early on to provide a virtual AGM. I am sure many of you have already attended plenty of virtual meetings. We have therefore decided to keep to three days but break down the content into short bursts that allow our delegates to have enough time to deal with their daily tasks. Day 2 and Day 3 sessions are also recorded and will be available to all those that have registered with the WTA.
  2. Anne will go into specific details and is also available by email for anyone wanting clarification on anything that is discussed during the next three days.
  3. Reflection on what was to be a promising year for the tourism and hospitality industry has turned onto one of survival. For the first time this is a truly global phenomenon which affects not only the smaller business but also the global conglomerates.
  4. There is no obvious insight into when business is likely to return but I personally anticipate that society will learn to manage with COVID and travel can start to return to sustainable levels for the operators sometime in the spring.
  5. Despite operating on a shoestring budget that is dependent on membership fees, the board of the WTA unanimously agreed to cut membership fees by 50% and defer payments in order to support our members.
  6. If there is any upside connected with the total disruption of society and the almost complete cessation of international tourism it is that the awareness and interest in wellness pursuits has strengthened during the last year. 2021 will be an opportunity to convert that interest into action.
  7. The WTA completed a valuable survey in the early months of COVID and a need to connect with nature, renew social connections and improve health were amongst the top three most stated desires when taking a vacation post COVID. Almost 4,000 respondents completed this survey and due to the success of our first two surveys the WTA intends to increase the research we do for the wellness tourism industry.
  8. This year has also made the board of WTA think about how best we serve the industry and our members. We shall use this AGM to gather feedback from you and we will be making changes to our priorities and focus based on the feedback.
  9. As mentioned, an increase in research is one area we intend to focus on. The long-awaited online training for travel agents will commence early in the new year.
  10. We will also strengthen our relationships with WTTC, CREST, WTM and other notable tourist organisations so that WTA becomes the voice of authority on wellness tourism to support these organisations.
  11. We welcome everyone. There is a great lineup of speakers and good subject matter. One third of the content is devoted to getting your feedback and discussing specific issues.

Status Report – Anne Dimon, President/CEO

Over the last 10 months, here are nine items we have accomplished.

  1. Despite the global situation we have been able to maintain our overall efforts in helping members and the industry at large.
  1. We launched the Healthy@Home page on the WTA website to help any members with online events or programs accessible to consumers. The page may have run its course because we do need to new info to update. So, send us your info if you have something virtual to share.
  1. As intended, we are making inroads in becoming the “voice of the industry.” Media continues to reach out to us for quotes, contributions or they have pick up our news releases. The BBC, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Spa Business, Ravista Hotel News Brazil, Professional Beauty Magazine, Preview Meetings & Incentives Magazine and others.If anyone is interested, these are linked on the In the News section of the WTA web site.  If you know of anything that hasn’t already been included there, please let me know.
  1. Many of our suppliers have been featured in the trade publication Recommend, one of our media partners. If you are a supplier and have not yet been featured but would like to be. Email me and we’ll get you scheduled.
  1. Various members of the Board of Directors have hosted or participated in virtual events including those for Recommend, WTM, the Global Wellness Summit, the Organic Spa Wellness Experience Virtual Summit and others.
  1. Tiffany Johanson – our member services associate who many of you have already met virtually – has been working to increase our following on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We want to use these platforms to help you promote your news. But you need to be sure to send us the news you want to promote or, at the very least, tag us in your posts and we can share those posts. I also encourage you to follow us and we will, of course, follow back.Please remember that we also have a private Facebook group for members & partners.
  1. Andrew mentioned our consumer survey and the close to 4,000 respondents who participated from 48 countries giving us a pretty good look at the various generational motivations for taking a wellness vacation post pandemic. Conducted in collaboration with WTA member Professor Danny Kessler as part of his Ph.D. this was our second Wellness Travel Consumer Survey. The first was in 2018, and we plan to do another in 2021. For those of you who did not tune into the webinar presenting the results of that survey, the recording is on the WTA’s You Tube channel. If you prefer to read the results, let me know and I will send you the report I wrote up for the current issue of Spa Business Handbook.
  1. In collaboration with Laszlo PUC zko of Health Tourism Worldwide, we also conducted the first online interview with academic and industry experts about the future of Wellness Travel. Laszlo will present the results tomorrow, and we’ll all learn about what wellness travel might look like a decade from now. So be sure to tune in for that.
  1. Since we are a registered not-for-profit with a mandate to educate all market segments, our current most important initiative is the Wellness Travel Specialist Course we are launching with The Travel Institute. This will be a two-year course and an excellent opportunity to get in front of agents looking to become wellness travel specialists. Of the six spots available for sponsors, we still have 3 left, but time is running out to be included in the course. Please email me THIS WEEK if you are interested. We have offered this opportunity to members first but we will be taking it out to the industry at large next week.


Financial Report – Thomas Klein, Treasurer

  1. 2020 has been a good year with expenses being managed exceptionally well by Anne with the support of Donna Mosely, our financial administrator.
  1. Clearly we need to increase membership to drive revenue and this, coupled with securing sponsorships has to be our strategy for 2021.
  1. Without increased income, WTA will be challenged to significantly grow and undertake some of the strategic initiatives to drive long-term success.
  1. WTA is in a good position through the balance of the year and early into the first quarter of 2021.


Take-Aways from Round Table Discussion – All attendees 

  1. Setting criteria and introducing a rating system that will help consumers distinquish one level of facility from another:

– Needs to be based on several things: physical facilities, natural environment, activities, programs, ethos and values

– International differences may complicate the initiative and make a ratings system a challenging task

– it’s a challenging task to educate consumers on the different wellness products

– this initiative will not be a quick fix and it will require input from people all over the world

– the wellness experience can include activities that are not costly

– the various levels of a “wellness facility” needs to be made clear to consumers (is it simply a facility with a massage table or a full-fledged wellness resort.)

– the process does not stop at the definition – it’s a much longer process

– who are the stakeholders we need to get involved to take these terms and definitions into common usage

– travel advisers biggest challenge is to educate. They need the tools

– majority agreed that we should set up a committee to explore a ratings system initiative

  1. Research and Surveys

– consumer research around the various therapies, knowledge of the various modalities

– covering the different generations is important and helps with marketing

– we also need to have a more global input, and perhaps due regional surveys

– we need more research on the wellness consumer themselves (primary vs secondary – but the WTA does not break this down this way. )

– what are consumers willing to pay extra for

  1. What value do you get out of the WTA

– credibility, connection, networking, surveys, conference, collaboration, introductions

  1. What value to you want out of the WTA

– we need to educate consumers

– we want introductions to more consumers – potential guests/clients

– we need a better way to get consumer leads / a consumer-facing platform?

– the launch of a podcase series for one-to-one meaningful conversations with industry experts

– a podcast series for consumers to showcase suppliers

– more B2B webinars on various topics and geared to various sectors

  1. Where to take the WTA in 2021

– make sure we are financial stable. Need to find a way of securing better funding.

– we will be looking at a few different business models – including looking at sponsorships

– launching of White Papers

– Wellness Travel book

If you have questions about any of the above or if you simply want to comment please email us