Spa Association, Canada unveil travel survey

The International SPA Association and the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) have collaborated for the first time on a groundbreaking new spa traveler study. The study, titled “Identifying the Spa Traveler: A Look at U.S. and Canadian Consumer Attitudes and Motivators for Spa Vacations,” was released at the Leading Spas of Canada Conference on April 10 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“ISPA’s relationship with the CTC has proven to be an invaluable partnership,” said ISPA Chairman Kate Mearns.  “By pooling the resources of both groups, we are able to provide our members with insight on niches that have not previously been studied.” 

The study explores the unique characteristics of the U.S. and Canadian spa traveler - as opposed to the spa-goer, which has been much surveyed and studied in the past.

As the research reveals, the spa traveler behaves quite differently than the spa-goer. While the spa-goer generally approaches his or her spa visits as a key part of a long-term health and wellness strategy, the spa traveler is looking to splurge and indulge. In vacation mode, the spa traveler is motivated by various factors including culture, history, cuisine, sightseeing and education.

A few of the key findings in the study include:


—Thirty-six percent of spa travelers are male.
—Resort/hotel spas are the most popular spa-type facility among spa travelers (81 percent in the U.S. and 73 percent in Canada). Day spas - when affiliated with or near, or recommended by the place where spa travelers stay - are also popular (23 percent in the U.S. and 37 percent in Canada).

—Massage continues to be the most popular treatment (88 percent in the U.S. and 86 percent in Canada), followed by facials, body treatments and manicures/pedicures.

—Americans are more likely to visit a spa while traveling (63 percent) than Canadians (49 percent).

—Whether American or Canadian, spa travelers like to get involved in the planning of their trips (90 percent of Americans and 85 percent of Canadians), though Canadians are more likely to use a travel agent.

—Aside from budget considerations, Americans are more likely to start with a desired destination in mind when choosing a spa vacation destination than Canadians.

—While there’s no set spa “season” of the year, Canadian spa travelers are more likely to take spa vacations in the winter than Americans.

—Both Canadian and American spa travelers prefer to take their spa vacations close to home. When asked about preferred foreign spa destinations for future trips, Canadians listed Mexico/Caribbean, the U.S. and Europe. Americans prefer Mexico/Caribbean, Europe and Canada.

—Canadian and American spa travelers consider relaxation and stress relief the greatest benefit of their spa vacation. A break from routine, pampering, mind/body/spiritual renewal and a life with no fixed schedule are also key goals.

—The five most important factors consumers consider when choosing a spa vacation destination are: 1. accommodations, 2. available spa facilities/treatments/accommodations that meet personal and/or budgetary needs, 3. cost/value for money, 4. affordable destination, and 5. spa treatments.

—Spa travelers find culture, cuisine and shopping popular leisure pursuits while on vacation.

The data for this report was collected in 2005 via an online survey and telephone survey, reaching a total of 4,064 adult consumers (2063 from the U.S. and 2001 from Canada.) The online survey targeted only active spa-goers, while the telephone survey addressed the general population of each country.