With travelling becoming a part of everyday life, the demand for leisure activities at airports is on the rise. Hence a lot of spa and wellness companies are opening outlets at airports to enhance the travelling experience for passengers By Archana Sharma
In today’s times, better transport accessibility and affordability as well as smarter planning tools and technology have simplified the process of travel for individuals. Existing and emerging technology such as smartphones and biometric scanning can soon turn airports into well-designed, stress-free areas. Airports, especially in Asia and the Middle East, are more integrated into the fabric of cities and are therefore becoming more contextualised and reflective of the local environment. Airports from around the globe are now hosting civic events and entertainment as well as layovers and business meetings.
People are saving time and money by taking advantage of services and amenities that airports have been adding in recent years. Facilities like salon and spas are no longer synonymous with hotels and resorts, as airports worldwide are increasingly incorporating sophisticated spa centres within their premises for passenger relaxation and rejuvenation. According to the SpaFinder Wellness 365 report, one of the spa and wellness trends for 2015 is that the new travel ritual treatments and other fitness and wellness experiences are done right at arrival, or en route at airports, to fight jetlag or to kick-start productivity. It also states that the spa and wellness explosion at airports will continue to take off. “Spa services at airports works quite different from other spas. For instance, a traveller has very less time at hand while on the go, hence they look for quick relaxation to refresh themselves,” opines Mohan Limbu, country head, Plaza Premium Lounge, India. Presently, Plaza Premium Lounges are present at 13 outlets among three Indian airport locations – New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, and the company is actively looking at expanding its footprint in India. Globally, it is present in more than 120 locations in 31 international airports.
The Indian wellness industry has witness tremendous growth over the last few years and is estimated to grow at an annual average rate of 20 per cent. Apart from the traditional spa outlets in metros, the industry is expanding to Tier II cities as well and also other avenues like malls, airports, etc, which are all contributing to the growth of the industry. “With travelling becoming a part of everyday life, the demand for leisure activities at airports is on the rise. Hence be it a leisure traveller or a business traveller, one is looking for relaxation and entertainment while travelling, hence a lot of airports are introducing spas to enhance the travelling experience for passengers,” mentions Limbu.
The spas at Plaza Premium Lounges offer various massages to tackle travel ailments such as Swedish massage, aroma therapy, foot reflexology, dry massage, to name a few, as they believe that it is important to develop therapies based on the traveller’s requirements and on the best way to serve them. “Spa is part of our ancillary service at our lounges as we want to create a cocoon for our guest to completely relax oneself. We get a considerable number of guests using the services and it is definitely on the rise since we first introduced the service,” adds Limbu.
Since spa therapists are well trained in human body anatomy which helps them understand the stress points of the traveller, it allows them to provide instant relief and relaxation to the guest. “When at Plaza Premium Lounge, one should definitely try our foot reflexology which soothes the jet leg feet instantly. Also the full body Swedish massage is for people who are looking forward to complete pampering,” suggests Limbu.
With over 42 outlets in India and an outlet in Fujairah, UAE, O2 Spa deals with over 500 customers on an average. “There is huge demand of spas at airports. The offers at the spas may attract those who travel in flights regularly,” states Syed Adnan Pervez (Adnan), digital marketing head, O2 Spa.
The company offers different massages and therapies like deep tissue, aromatherapy, Thai massage, candle massage, 4 Hands Massage, etc along with a welcome drink, hot shower, etc. Also, steam, salon services and couple rooms are available at a few select locations.
Believing in well trained therapists, good infrastructure, great services Pervez says that the spa and massage rooms should be well kept as the traveller can only enjoy the services when the ambience is right.
As Indian travellers are becoming more affluent, the demand for good service is definitely on the rise. Limbu believes, “As a result of increasing demand, a lot of spas have opened up at various airports over the few years. When we first opened our lounges in India offering spas, we did not have many takers, but increasingly the numbers have doubled significantly. We can see a lot of growth in future.”
Talking about the recent change observed in the demographic for spa facilities, Limbu points out, “Spa has always been considered a woman driven indulgence, but, we see more men pampering themselves, maybe, it has to do with the fact that there is more male travellers than females. Travellers above 25 avail more spa services then their younger counterpart.” Even Pervez believes that people above 25 frequent the spa more often and usually they are ones who avail the airport spa facilities.
The perception is that the more time one has, the more likely one will avail such services while travelling but Limbu observes that usually more business travellers avail spa services than leisure travellers at airports. Adding to the same, Pervez says that business travellers choose body massage services more often than leisure travellers.
Talking about the challenges faced by lounges and spas at high security areas like airports, Limbu mentions, “Since airport is a sensitive area, there are a lot of tools which are not allowed to be used which curbs the service offerings. Also the constraints on large space at airports doesn’t allow for a lavish setup.” However, he believes that the spa setup is almost the same everywhere but its the maturity of the industry which comes to play in such facilities. “The spa and massage industry in India is still at a nascent stage and is not fully developed yet, hence it is considered a luxury product. However, at the global level, it has become part of everyday life. And even here the trends are changing and there will be more demand in future,” he predicts.