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16 Jun 2019

The future of medical spas explored in first-ever Swiss Medical Spa & Hospitality Think Tank
BY Jane Kitchen

The one-day panel was hosted at the EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality (SSTH)

The one-day panel was hosted at the EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality (SSTH)

The EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality (SSTH) hosted the first Swiss Medical Spa & Hospitality Think Tank on 6 June 2019 in Chur-Passugg, Switzerland.

This one-day forum saw leading industry experts, academics and students come together to compile the status quo, reflect on examples of best practice and identify areas of potential for the future when combining new medical and spa trends in the hospitality industry.

With self-care and wellbeing becoming increasingly high-profile topics, the demand for medical services in the hospitality and tourism sectors is growing.

“Growth in the global medical spa market is driven by the increasing number of aesthetic medicine and cosmetic treatment options for beauty enhancement, and by the growth in wellness trends among developed nations,” said CV Wijeratne, head of spa & wellness management majory at SSTH. “The rise in medical tourism in developing economies like India, China and Brazil is also expected to be a driver of growth.”

Delving deeper, the Think Tank speakers revealed that the demand for hospitality expertise and talent is also felt in the provision of traditional medical treatments.

As Dr Peter Yesawich of Brown Legacy Group explained, it is the orientation towards the guest experience inherent in hospitality – or indeed the patient experience in this case – that lies behind the “Mother Standard” of care practiced at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

This same holistic approach, striving to optimise the guest experience at each touchpoint, has enabled Lisa Clarke of the Destination Medical Center’s Economic Development Agency to overhaul the infrastructure surrounding Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, US.

The clinic itself had an outstanding reputation but lacked hoteliers to provide a safe haven between treatments and an accessible, engaging environment to detract from the physical and emotional burden of undergoing treatment.

Further expert input was received from: Dr Radesh Palikurthi of the University of Memphis, who spoke on ‘Outbound Health and Wellness Tourism Destination Choice by U.S. Consumers: A Trade-off Analysis of the Significant Decision Factors’; Dr Ali Poorani of the University of Delaware, who spoke on ‘Hospitality Associates for Research & Training: Marketing & Sensory Evaluations; Dr Frederick J De Micco of the University of Delaware and CV Wijeratne of SSTH presented research and an expert panel on ‘Bridging Healthcare to Hospitality (H2H)’.

Forming a panel, the speakers then discussed the key forces driving change and opportunities in the global health, spa and wellness, medical and hospitality industry, as well as potential components of a corresponding curriculum.

SSTH managing director Michael Hartmann has developed a Swiss Professional Degree programme with an option to major in Spa & Wellness Management that not only conveys functional management expertise, but also strengthens soft skills.

“People want an experience. People want all of their senses to be stimulated,” he said. “People want us to build on their childhood imprints. This is particularly relevant for health and wellbeing tourism, where guests have very specific expectations and needs. The medical and hospitality fields are connecting their expertise to provide patients and guests with a higher quality experience on all aspects.”




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