By Jen Corley
WeTravel, a San Francisco-based technology company providing payment and registration solutions to the wellness retreat industry, has released an industry outlook survey of 132 wellness retreat providers to track the impact of COVID-19 on the industry.
The company conducted the survey in early April 2020. The majority of respondents are based in North America (71%) and are small businesses with fewer than 10 employees offering domestic and international retreats, training programs, and similar offerings to groups and individuals.
Nearly 50% of respondents have been operating for five years or more, which indicates that the pandemic has impacted established businesses as well as newer players in the industry.
This is an opportunity to realign our lives. When we come back to normalcy, I hope it’s a new normal. I hope that we are using this as an opportunity to remember what truly matters. Aligning in this way is the best thing we can do for mind/body health.
–Erica McQuown, Ayurverica
– Most respondents are confident that business will pick up again in the fall of this year. Around 16% of rescheduled offerings will fall between June and August 2020, while close to 50% will occur between September and December 2020. In the rest of the cases, offerings will be delayed to 2021, while operators closely monitor the situation.
– Operators expect a major decline in revenue in 2020. Just over 40% of respondents expect to see their 2020 revenue decline by at least 50% compared to that of 2019, including 19% that predict a decline of more than 75%. However, based on the 25% who indicated that they remained unsure of the impact of COVID-19 on revenue, there is still uncertainty in this respect.
– Retreat operators are taking a variety of approaches toward refunding clients. In roughly half of cases, respondents have managed to refund their clients, offering full refunds (40%) or refunds minus a small administrative fee (11%). On the other hand, in just 23% of cases are they unwilling to refund, either at all (5%), until they have received refunds from vendors and partners (3%), or until further negotiation with their clients (15%).
– Most wellness retreat providers have a positive outlook for 2021. While 34% of respondents have a negative outlook for the second half of 2020, and an additional 27% remain uncertain over this time horizon, the picture is rosier for 2021. A full 77% believe the industry will rebound within 18 months, and 63% see the recovery timeline as 12 months or less, indicating optimism for early to mid-2021.
Advice for world leaders:
– Hannah Ruth Dyson, Soul Seed GatheringTake this opportunity to rethink our global systems and economy, to focus on the rights of citizens rather than monopoly corporations, and lead us into better balance with Mother Earth.”
Jen Corley (CYT-500) heads the wellness division of WeTravel, an online payment and registration platform for group travel. When she’s not travelling or practicing yoga, she enjoys cooking with her family and exploring her hometown of Oakland with her French bulldog, Taco.