World Wellness Weekend 2020 | September 19-20
by Jamison Stoike

In just a few years, World Wellness Weekend has grown into one of the world’s premier celebrations of wellness and a compelling demonstration of the power of spa. And although only a year has passed since the last weekend event, World Wellness Weekend 2020 will likely be held in a vastly different world due to the scope and impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps now more than ever, the world is primed to develop a deeper appreciation of wellness—coronavirus has served as a wake-up call for many. “Is it going to be just this one time?” says World Wellness Weekend founder Jean-Guy de Gabriac. “We don’t want to live in fear, but we need to act.” The wellness-centric lifestyle championed by de Gabriac’s two-day event and by spas worldwide is key to strengthening our immune systems and reducing risk factors such as obesity. As a spa professional, World Wellness Weekend 2020 is your opportunity to put your spa or business front-and-center in your community as a conduit to a healthier life.

Accordingly, de Gabriac hopes that participating spas reach out to healthcare workers during this year’s event. “We should extend the #wellness life to nurses,” de Gabriac says. “They are overworked, underpaid, on the verge of burnout. Spas should open their doors and say, ‘you are welcome here.’” As part of an outreach program to local healthcare workers and first responders, de Gabriac suggests focusing on “serenity, breathing and healthy grieving” due to the mental and emotional toll of working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this, World Wellness Weekend 2020 will remain an upbeat, positive event. de Gabriac anticipates approximately 5,000 participating venues from 120 countries this year, up from 2,363 participants from 98 countries last year. Participants should treat the event as a holiday, like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day: an opportunity to bring back old customers, attract new ones and offer unique packages and deals.

The centerpiece of any participating spa’s celebration, however, will be a free 60-minute activity that opens new doors of wellness for the local community. The best events, says de Gabriac, are not by-the-book. Rather, they are outside-the-box experiences, for “wellness has to be experiential” to truly connect with those new to spa. “This industry needs to always reinvent itself for its guests,” de Gabriac adds. “We need to add fun to the mix.” Creating a unique experience is more than just an opportunity to capture the attention of guests and local media—it’s also a great way to more deeply engage your talented team. Hold brainstorming sessions for potential event ideas, and offer support to those who are willing to freely share their ideas. The most memorable and successful experiences on World Wellness Weekend are often those that initially seemed the most unusual.

Furthermore, a critical aspect of participation is to involve other local businesses. Doing so will make your spa a community leader and a go-to source for wellness while lifting up businesses around you. They, in turn, will refer customers to you in a virtuous cycle. If your spa is located in a commercial area, such as a downtown or a smalltown main street, try setting up a “Wellness Street” or “Wellness Block” where spa-goers can engage with multiple businesses—from spas and salons to breweries, boutiques or bodegas—celebrating wellness together. de Gabriac sums up this concept nicely: “Wellness doesn’t start with ‘me.’ It starts with ‘we.’”

World Wellness Weekend is about encouraging a healthy lifestyle all year long—not just for one weekend or for one trip to the spa. Here are two ways to gently encourage your guests (or your staff) to stay accountable and dedicated to their wellness journey:

1. Make a “wellness donation to themselves.” Direct those who attend your World Wellness Weekend event to set up a reward system for living well—for example, setting aside a small amount for each week in which they exercised regularly, or for each consecutive day that they eat healthily. Then, at the end of the year, they can donate this money to a local charity that encourages wellness in others.

2. Find a “wellness buddy.” Encourage participants and staff to a find a wellness buddy. This can be someone they go to the gym with, cook healthily with and regularly check-in with about their wellness journey. Make sure that both they and their wellness buddy feel empowered to hold each other accountable.

Interested in joining 5,000 spas in more than 120 countries for the celebration? Register online at world-wellness-weekend.org. Registering will put you on the official map of participating venues and open up helpful resources for designing and promoting your free wellness event.