News for Wellness Minded Professionals
Wellness + Travel News, Insights & Observations
Wellness washing is based on a term originally coined in 1986 called "green washing" and was later defined as "disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image" by the Oxford English dictionary.
Green washing describes when an entity invests more time and money on advertising on being “green” and environmentally friendly then they do on implementing practices that are truly eco-conscious.
Organizations that do this for public relations often use press releases to promote the rebranding of products or services, committees and task forces when in actuality they take very little action in implementing policies that are environmentally-friendly.
Misleading customers about services and products and their environmental benefits through unsubstantiated claims and misleading advertising is also green washing.
Wellness washing unfortunately faces the same issues and is coming to light more recently in response to meet consumer demands for wellness-focused goods and services. I've mentioned this previously - global spa & wellness marketing company promoting bikini waxes and hair color services as a “wellness deal.” While spas are seeking to reinvent themselves as providers of wellness, marketing in this fashion is a disservice to the consumer, giving rise to skepticism of what wellness actually means. There is growing posturing across sectors due to lack of external monitoring on the proper use of the term wellness.
Wellness washing is a threat to the wellness travel industry to workplace wellness. Using “wellness” irresponsibly for short-term monetary gain is problematic to the shaping and building of a newly emerging tourism product as well as retooling workplace wellness programs.
One of my pet peeves this last year was observing how big luxury hotel companies with a spa component used a global wellness observance for self-serving promotion. Example: buy our $160 massage and receive a complimentary fresh watermelon smoothie! Ugh. Really? I could give many other examples but won't. In my mind, a true wellness day, week or observance, embodies a holistic approach to well-being and benefits as many people as possible not just those that can afford a $160 massage.
Wellness includes community well-being, spirituality, intellectual pursuits, environmental conservation, protection of cultures and an abundance of goodwill. My hope for next year's annual observance is that the big lux brands will step up and offer wellness to their surrounding community in a meaningful way. Suggestions: volunteering to feed the homeless, a potluck community dinner, planting a tree, cleaning a beach and so many other ways to give and receive.
Wellness is for every body. Wellness washing is not.