Four Great Take Aways from the GWS 2016

Four days of non-stop program:

  • Attentively listening to industry leaders
  • Discussing topics 
  • Making new friends
  • Catching up with old friends
  • Activities, dinners, receptions, speeches…

I was knackered after my second summit which took place right here, in Kitzbuehel in Tirol. But just like after my first summit back in 2010 in Istanbul, I left feeling grown, assured, and hopeful. I am taking back sensations, impression, knowledge, and information that I would not want to have missed, professionally and personally.

This year’s agenda was extensive with great options to choose from. I have attended presentations and workshops that were interesting and of good quality. And I have taken valuable insights.

I am sharing some of the impressions with you in the following four great Take Aways from the GWS 2016:

gws take aways Anja Eva Keller TalkWellness

Great Take Away no 1” “You cannot sell prevention”

Dr Franz Linser, one of the two co-chairs for the Global Wellness Summit this year, raised one of the major issues in modern health and wellbeing. He says “you cannot sell prevention”.

This is an interesting aspect to consider when talking about health & wellness offers. Most wellness offers with a promise (i.e. a weight loss program) lead to an an actual change (i.e. the loss of weight) as outcome. Even a rejuvenating facial can lead to an instant effect and younger looking skin right after the treatment.

And it seems to be the trend: an immediate effect is what consumers seem to expect nowadays.

Yet prevention? 

Just think about smokers and how difficult it is to explain the long term negative effects of smoking on health. Something that lies far in the future does not seem to provide sufficient motivation for change in behaviour. 

Even threatening does not seem to be doing the trick, just think about offsetting pictures on cigarette packs accompanied by the slogan “smoking kills”.

How do we have to or can we ‘sell prevention’ in the future?

gws take aways Anja Eva Keller TalkWellness

(c) GWS

Great Take Away no 2: “The sense of smell most anchors us in reality”

says Edie Weiner in a side note, the women with the crystal bowl. Edie Weiner is President and CEO of The Future Hunters, one of the world’s leading futurist consulting firms. 

And our sense of smell not only most anchors us in reality, scholars consider it to be our “most emotional” sense. Because we do not usually analyse the information that we receive from a scent but we immediately get a feeling from it. Don’t we all remember a particular smell from our childhood (for me it is the smell of my kindergarden bag) very well, but hardly remember what happened last week?

This neuro scientific effect is not only used by hospitality businesses for their advantage.

Common in spas, unique scents are used, for example in Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is likely not the main reason for drawing customers to a spa, but may very well be what keeps them coming back!

Our sense of smell is powerful: it is said that humans recall smells with a 65% accuracy even after a year’s time. Our sense of sight seems less potent: visual recalls sink to about 50% after the much shorter time of only a few months. Not hard to guess what people recall most about a spa business.

Supermarkets are also using this knowledge in neuroscience: freshly baked bread smells welcome you at the entrance to a shop, this way trying to create a unique retail experience through scent.

Researcher Eric Spangenberg found that in a local clothing store, when “feminine scents” like vanilla were used, sales of women’s clothes doubled. They found a similar result with men’s clothing when scents like “rose maroc” were used.

bathing history Tirol

Great Take Away no 3:  “Tirol is Wellness beyond Tourism”

I have moved to Tyrol eight years ago, one reason being the fact, that Tyrol is a Wellness hot spot. Shortly after I have written an article called “Tyrol is Wellness Country” , in which I have highlighted the many aspects of Tyrollean wellness, which I also aufgreife in my hotel reviews of Tyrollean Wellness Hotels. (Actually there are about 400 Wellness Hotels in Tyrol, and I am going to do my best in reviewing all of them one day!)

From the reactions and feedback of delegates during the GWS summit, I realised that I have taken for granted what is unusual for others: Tyrolleans breathe wellness, they are wellness people. The way I define wellness, Tyrolleans have a long history of deeply anchoring wellness activities and aspects into their daily lives.

  • spending a lot of times outdoors in fresh mountain air
  • eating and drinking local organic food and fresh water
  • being physically active not only with sports activities but also incorporated to every day life such as walking and biking instead of driving short distances
  • taking time for inner reflection, slow paced lifestyles, connected to earth and nature
  • living with and from nature directly with ancient knowledge in use every day for farming, fishing, natural remedies etc.

I believe, that this everyday wellness environment which we find in Tyrol is going to be duplicated by other nations artificially one day. 

Our past is your future.

Great Take Away no 4: “Wellness can be sustainable and stylish – Sustainability Reports”

The presentation of Alcide Leali, Managing Director Lefay Resorts impressed me. Particularly their approach to environmentalism and sustainability.

Lefay Resort Collection not only focusses on outstanding guest services and stylish facilities. Sustainability aspects stretch through the entire business and operation.

gws take aways Anja Eva Keller TalkWellness



Their mission statement reads ‘To become the Italian reference brand in the international market of luxury wellness holidays through the creation of a collection of eco-resorts according to the Italian style and living and the new Lefay concept of luxury’.


Their commitment goes as far as:

  • environmental certifications acknowledged at an international level
  • gourmet sustainable cuisine
  • min 60% of energy produced by renewable resources
  • use of cutting edge technologies to minimise energy and heat dispersion
  • creating social value for stakeholders
  • neutralisation of CO2 emissions
  • natural materials

Which brings up the question: With more and more consumers aware of environmentalism and sustainability and to counter false quality seals and unethical practices by black sheep, should sustainability reports be made mandatory for hospitality companies?

Lefay’s sustainability report is available for download.

The Global Wellness Summit 2017 takes place at the Breakers in Florida/US. I cannot wait and hope to meet you there!