Where Does Wellness Sit With The ’Scapes’?

by László Puczkó
Where Does Wellness Sit With The ’Scapes’?

The atmosphere tends to be the most memorable component of any vacation. There are tangible as well as intangible elements of that atmosphere, or otherwise called sense of place. Probably the most relevant tangible component is the landscape or the physical spaces the guests visited. The tangible atmosphere is often the result of years of historical development such as architectural designs, whereas the intangible components can be the language, music or the gastronomy, etc.

Wellness travel is not exempt from the search of atmosphere. Travelers may look for tranquility, luxury, or spiritual inspiration and guidance. When we look at how such unique atmospheres were (or could be) created, we are talking about the concept of ‘scapes’. The suffix ‘scapes’ alludes to metaphorical landscapes or physical spaces in specific geographies. Below the most relevant forms of ‘scapes’ are revisited

Travel will most certainly pick up after almost a year of serious limitations. It is, therefore now wise to see how the various forms of scapes can be manifested in and applied to wellness travel. Revisiting and reassessing wellness offering destinations by the concept of scapes will help advisors and agents to offer the most suitable destinations to their guests.

The landscape forms an elemental part of the visit and the experience. It will very much be so in the future since people have become deprived of having direct access to nature, to natural settings. The landscape, therefore, will remain a critical decision making factor to any traveller with wellness in mind. Most wellness-focused destinations are located at tranquil, secluded, and picture-perfect settings, i.e. travellers will need more insights about the sense of place. This is why it can be interesting to look at the other ‘scapes’. Nature can be brought into the property and at the same time wellness services can be taken out to natural settings, and can also be part of a more complex wellness proposition.

The servicescape perspective emphasizes the efforts of businesses to design the physical settings from the micro perspective and achieve organizational and marketing goals. What it means is that the facilities look at how they can improve the physical environment for consumption. What the servicescape locations do is that they optimise the physical environment, i.e. the interior design, layout, and floorplan of their facilities. Such an approach focuses on how the services should be delivered by operational and process terms. Less attention is given to guests’ wellbeing improvement. The implementation of the servicescape approach can be manifested in spascapes, in the floorplan that is optimal for operations, maintenance, and staffing. Guests can expect a seamless guest journey but more from the service environment’s perspective.

Sensescapes are such environments where every sense is stimulated and takes part in the experience creation. These are especially relevant locations for any wellness trip that focuses on the physical senses. Only sites that offer multi-sensory sensations can really be introduced as sensescapes. This may be difficult since certain sensation elements, e.g. plants for visuals and scents for atmosphere, may be available temporarily or seasonally. The sensation can be created naturally, e.g. outdoors, and also indoors, e.g. through combined virtual solutions. Tastescapes capitalise on healthy foods and the sensation of taste buds can be enjoyed throughout the year. Destinations that pay special attention to sounds, rhythm, or music can be called soundscapes.

Experiencescapes are functional spaces that allow interactions between diverse stakeholders and capture the entirety of how experiences are produced and consumed in a meaningful way. The focus is on the interaction and the possibility of getting involved. Immersive or co-created experiences assume that guests can take an active part and role in the design as well as in the delivery of experiences. When guests can bring their own music and essential oils to the treatment room, that can easily fall into this category.

Valuescapes are wellness destinations that have moved on from the unique-selling-proposition (USP) stage to the unique-value-proposition (UVP) stage. They do not only offer services and experiences but they are focusing on the valued benefits guests may look for and essentially buy. At valuescapes, customers pay for the services but buy the benefits. Valuescapes are not only immersive but also transformational, responsible, and meaningful.

While the concept of the ‘scapes’ may appear far removed from everyday practice, here are some actual examples that show how the ‘scapes’ form a fundamental part of travel, especially wellness travel.

Who would not like to visit a dreamscape location? At a dreamscape, everything is for the eye. These destinations offer fantastic, futuristic, or breath taking architecture and/or location. They have at least one feature which could be described as one of a kind – i.e. THE largest, tallest, and most spectacular, etc. They are capable of transporting visitors to another world where guests are completely absorbed by the dreamy location and/or architecture. Many wellness destinations have applied the dreamscape approach and are run at amazing properties. The guests’ expectations, however, can be challenged after arrival. It appears to be the case that developers pour money into architectural design but may run out of money and attention for operations, service, or staff development. The wellness programming may fall short in dreamscapes since they focus on the shell.

The egoscapes are destinations that serve the ego of certain guest segments, and often that of the owners. These are locations where the totality of the wellness proposition is likely not to be fully met. This is due to the compromised delivery and/or imbalance in the concept itself. Most of the time such situations appear as a consequence of the owners’ personal motivations or often short-lived fashion ‘trends’. An egoscape may have the qualities of a dreamscape in terms of design but since it is ‘overdone’ it may fall short in harmony and balance. Still, there are egoscape locations that can be very popular and also profitable. In such destinations, guests pamper their psychological wellbeing, their ego.

Wellness-scapes, or if we look at the complex understanding of health, healthscapes, are the contemporary understanding of the scapes concept. At these locations, guests’ wellbeing is looked at in a holistic way. Both the services and the created experiences contribute to one or more pillars of the customer’s wellbeing. For example, such a scenario is achieved by responding to emotional or social triggers at the same time. The application of the approach can result in treatment spaces that can accommodate groups of friends for a foot-massage. This is not only an architectural challenge, but also a service design one. Wellness has become popular for group travel as well and now represents challenging expectations. The replacement of single-guest treatment rooms with group treatment spaces makes it possible for friends to enjoy and share the same experience together. Destinations such as destination spas or lifestyle retreats can incorporate more healthcare or medical services and may combine them with the traditional wellness services to offer a more compelling, integrative value proposition.

This short journey of the ‘scapes’ is intended to help advisors and agents in their programming, packaging, and communication when they offer wellness-focused services and destinations. The categorisation of the destinations according to their scapes’ style and approach may furnish advisors with fine insights, details, and even with a new vocabulary. New segments may respond better to scapes-based marketing since they may find the meaning and proposition of the various scapes more meaningful at a personal level.

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Wellness travel is not exempt from the search of atmosphere. Travelers may look for tranquility, luxury, or spiritual inspiration and guidance. When we look at how such unique atmospheres were (or could be) created, we are talking about the concept of ‘scapes’.

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