The wellness spa: construct definition and performance evaluation
Hyde-Smith, Maria J.E
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Perceptions of health among researchers, practitioners and other stakeholder participants are changing. Individuals are being encouraged to take more responsibility and become proactive in addressing and preventing the causes of ill health. Such a self-directed approach is termed ‘wellness’. Stanford Research Institute’s (SRI) Global Spa Summit (GSS), (2010) provided a report, which indicated that wellness is a $2 (US) trillion global industry. Spas are recognized as a primary segment of the wellness industry and future growth is predicted based on 89% of spa business attendee’s planning to invest in new or additional wellness-related products and services in the next five to ten years. Yet there remains lack of agreement and some confusion about the meaning of wellness as it relates to spas. The liberal use of the term wellness by practitioners is inconsistent with the academic literature. A lack of agreement among many spa operators makes it difficult for researchers, marketers and consumers to identify a true wellness spa. Disparate knowledge about how a wellness spa should be defined; the key components of a wellness spa; and about how wellness spas should be evaluated, highlight the need for further clarification. All of this has implications for industry-based accreditation processes. This study aims to provide a performance evaluation measurement tool that evaluates a spa’s ability to offer a complete wellness experience. This research builds on a review of the literature and uses a rigorous procedure for scale development as its guiding framework (Rossiter, 2002). Data were gathered from twelve New Zealand-based industry stakeholders using the Nominal Group Technique and the Delphi method. Furthermore, eight international expert raters analyzed the data using the Delphi method. The results indicate that from the perspective of stakeholders, a spa can have the capacity to offer a complete wellness experience. This experience is driven by eight wellness components: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental, professional and cultural. While not all components are represented equally, they all share the same level of importance in offering a holistic wellness spa experience. This study provides the first wellness spa performance evaluation measurement tool for professional practice and academic research. The measurement tool has the ability to identify disparities across different wellness spas, assist in the future development of wellness spas, and produce an industry-approved benchmark for best practice.