Loop Wellbeing, by Astrid Oberhummer
An XO Private Interview by Zoila Checa

"Together, let's shape the future of wellness and create meaningful connections in the industry."

In this special XO Private Show Series we welcome Astrid Oberhummer, CEO and Founder of Loop Wellbeing, the no. 1 wellbeing event for luxury travel in the German speaking market. Being a fully hosted programme for buyers curated by Lobster Experience, the show's concept unfolds as a hybrid model of symposium and practical modules, and takes place twice a year.

Astrid Oberhummer, Founder of Loop Wellbeing
Can you share the inspiration or moment that led to the creation of the Loop Wellbeing Shows?
Due to the pandemic, a noticeable shift in values occurred in the world, where physical and mental well-being became of utmost importance and as a result people sought mindfulness, self-care and mental health over the pursuit of material wealth leading to a surge in demand for wellness holidays. Through my interactions with travel agencies, I identified a gap in the market—a lack of understanding on how to effectively promote wellbeing. While these agencies had clients booking luxury hotels, there was also a growing interest in investing in personal wellness. Recognizing this gap, I aimed to assist our travel agency partners in professional training, enabling them to proficiently sell wellbeing. Simultaneously, I sought to empower wellness hotels and resorts to effectively market their wellbeing offerings to the highly sought-after DACH market.

What motivated you to venture into the global wellness market with these shows?

The motivation stems from recognizing that wellbeing isn't just a regional need—it's a global necessity now. The resonance and success of Loop Wellbeing not only within the region but globally confirm this. As word spread, it garnered interest from buyers and suppliers well beyond the DACH and CEE market, further emphasizing the universal appeal of the concept.
Lefay Resort, one of the exhibitors at Loop Wellbeing
How has your personal experience with the wellness industry influenced the development and direction of the Loop Wellbeing Shows?
Hailing from Austria, a region surrounded by natural spas and health resorts, I've always had a lifelong fascination with all things related to wellbeing. Reflecting on it now, envisioning a spa attached to a hotel was an entirely novel concept some 35 years ago. The essence of the 'Spa culture,' deeply ingrained in the DACH Market, is primarily a medical approach. Interestingly, my initial roles involved leading hotels with a medical spa component, and at that time, marketing for such concepts was entirely pioneering.

Recognizing the preciousness of life, my personal holidays consistently involve stays in wellness hotels across Asia and Europe. This unique combination encapsulates the epitome of both worlds—a luxurious hotel and an immersive wellness experience. These experiences have not only enriched my personal journeys but also facilitated an in-depth understanding of the finest wellness offerings, all gained from firsthand experiences at the best wellness destinations worldwide.

Were there specific challenges or gaps in the market that you identified and aimed to address through these shows?
In the present scenario, Wellness has transcended being merely a trend; it has evolved into a lasting necessity as individuals increasingly prioritize their overall well-being. Drawing from personal experience, navigating the world of selling well-being poses a unique challenge due to the diverse philosophical concepts, methods, techniques, and terminology involved, which may appear complicated without firsthand exposure. Furthermore, the inclusion of spiritual and medical elements, coupled with the myriad forms of Yoga, adds another layer of complexity.

In response to these intricacies, I conceptualized Loop Wellbeing as a B2B show—a comprehensive four-night immersion into various well-being concepts. The objective is to equip agents not only with theoretical knowledge but also practical applications, enabling them to grasp the intricacies of selling well-being through direct experiences. We have meticulously chosen well-being suppliers, represented by wellness hotels, to provide in-depth explanations of their diverse packages. The ultimate aim is for agents to effectively convey the essence of each well-being offering to their clients, thereby enhancing their consultancy skills. This empowers agents to adeptly evaluate which offerings align best with their clients' needs based on their current life stage.

Additionally, recognizing the absence of a travel trade show catering to the specific need for more in-depth well-being training, Loop Wellbeing is now open to the world. A conventional 15-minute appointment with a wellness hotel or resort at a trade show falls short in capturing the true essence of well-being and what each resort has to offer. Well-being offerings are diverse and require a deeper understanding that goes beyond mere explanation—a firsthand experience is irreplaceable. While wellness resorts provide a wealth of information, travel agents must comprehend the nuances and distinctions among various offerings to effectively market them. At Loop Wellbeing, we facilitate the exchange of knowledge and interaction between suppliers and agents. Agents not only gain insights from suppliers but also learn from fellow agents who bring diverse perspectives based on their experiences with different client types. Similarly, suppliers have the opportunity to stay abreast of other wellness trends and exchange ideas with fellow wellness experts. It's a win-win platform for everyone.

Loop Wellbeing Show Gathering
The decision to have two distinct shows in Winter/Italy and Summer/Thailand is intriguing. What factors influenced this dual-location strategy?
The success we've witnessed this year with our dual-loop wellbeing format affirms that we are moving in the right direction. For the winter edition, our wellness hotel partner was situated in Europe, representing a short-haul destination. The premier Loop Wellbeing was hosted at Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa in Switzerland, which was recently honored as the World's Best Hotel Spa at the World Spa Awards 2023.

In contrast, for the summer edition held last October, we chose Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som in Qatar, awarded as Best Wellness Retreat in Qatar by the World Spa Awards 2023 for the long-haul destination spa. It's noteworthy that all our hotel partners offer a blend of Asian and Western wellbeing therapies.

How do these geographical choices align with the goals and themes of Loop Wellbeing Shows?
The concept of featuring both short and long-haul destinations ensures a year-round availability of wellbeing experiences across the globe, catering to varied travel preferences. We curate top-tier wellness destinations, including multi-awarded spas and hotels with an excellent client reputation.
Loop Wellbeing Show Experience
In your view, what sets Loop Wellbeing Shows apart from other events in the global wellness market?
Loop Wellbeing stands out as an educational platform at its core, aiming to enlighten individuals about the intricacies of wellbeing. Learning in this inspiring environment not only imparts theoretical knowledge but also equips attendees with the expertise to sell, opening doors to new client segments for travel agents and generating increased bookings for our wellness hotel partners. This symbiotic relationship ensures a definite win-win for all stakeholders.

Another noteworthy aspect is the intentionally smaller participant size at Loop Wellbeing, compared to other trade show formats, fostering an intimate setting where everyone has ample opportunity to engage meaningfully with each other. The format includes concise 20-30 minute presentations covering wellness products, delving into philosophy, concepts, client expectations, the transformative process, and the emphasis on sustainable, long-term transformations rather than one-off retreats. This unique structure encourages deep interactions and ensures that participants leave having engaged in substantial conversations with each other.

How would you describe the fundamental DNA or essence of these shows?

The DNA of these shows is the formula of having an equilibrium between theory, spa treatments, interaction through the appointments with the Wellness partner and travel agents and lots of group dynamics activities which really bonds the whole group. The sumptuous healthy food and other activities such as excursions in the destination are just a bonus. It is after all the bonding this shared experience and exchange of ideas brings is what makes loop wellness special.

The distinctive experience offered by each Destination Spa is what all the participants whether the agent or the other hotel partners will experience: each partner brings a distinctive wellness essence, offering participants a glimpse into unique programs, spa treatments, diverse cuisines, and the atmospheric charm, whether nestled in the mountains or situated by the beach, making Loop Wellbeing an ultimate wellbeing experience for everyone.

Loop Wellbeing Meetings
Could you provide insights into the types of buyers and attendees that attend Loop Wellbeing Shows?
The type of buyers that are selected to join the loop wellness are the best buyers from the german speaking market and now reaching out to the top international - agencies that have the focus on well-being and those who want to diversify and so our focus is to produce new wellbeing experts. These are agencies that have affluent clients with big travel budgets but they are not able to move into selling wellbeing offerings because they do not feel confident about selling it. This is because they do not have the know how – for example what is Ayurveda, Medical Health, Transformative Travel, Chinese Medicine, real Yoga Retreats, healthy food concepts, Meditation, Healing, Naturopath and much more. These are essential concepts they have to understand in order to look after the Well-being of guests.

How has the profile of attendees evolved over time, and what trends have you observed in their preferences?
The demographic of our attendees reflect the notable transformation of the industry. Originally drawn from luxury travel, today's participants are increasingly discerning individuals seeking a comprehensive understanding of wellness travel. This evolution reflects a shift beyond mere spa treatments to a more holistic approach that encompasses the mind, body, soul, and spirit. Delegates would like to explore the diverse wellness programs and have a comprehensive experience it - including elements such as nutrition, movement, and the unique settings of their retreats, be it in the mountains, by the sea, or near thermal springs.

Contrary to common perception, wellness travel extends beyond traditional spa treatments. Attendees are now seeking a balance in their well-being experiences. They aspire to explore the various dimensions of wellness, beyond massage, and are eager to discover what differentiates a genuine wellness program. It's crucial for them to understand that the presence of a spa in a hotel doesn't automatically imply a comprehensive wellness offering.

In our exclusive program, Loop Wellbeing, we carefully currently select over 50 travel agents through an invitational process. Prospective agents undergo a thorough evaluation process, submitting a detailed questionnaire that outlines why they should be chosen to participate. This fully sponsored program only requires hosted delegates to cover their transportation expenses, ensuring a curated group of industry professionals.

Our Wellbeing Suppliers aren't limited to destination spas; we also collaborate with properties, particularly luxury hotels or resorts, whose spa facilities offer distinctive and specialized wellness experiences. This diversity allows us to cater to the evolving preferences of our discerning attendees, offering a comprehensive and enriching wellness travel experience.

Where do you see the future of Loop Wellbeing Shows heading? Are there any specific plans for expansion or evolution in terms of themes or locations?
In the future, we will be adding buyers (outside the DACH market) and with the same qualification process to be able to keep it an intimate group. We are already on the look out for new locations for 2025.

What is important is also the fact that loop wellbeing is putting a lot of emphasis on Continuing Education. Lobster Experience organizes Webinars to support the education of the travel agents. This year, we successfully concluded our first Wellbeing Webinar series and were able to award 250 successful participants from the DACH Market with our Lobster Experience Wellbeing Expert Certificate. All the sessions are recorded and could be accessed in our Lobster Academy website so those who are interested to learn more about Wellbeing and the different hotel programmes could access the recording.

How do you anticipate the global wellness market evolving, and how will Loop Wellbeing Shows stay relevant?
In considering the evolution of the global wellness market, it is evident that investing in this sector is important. The wellness travel industry is undergoing substantial growth in 2023, driven by an escalating demand for well-being-centric experiences. The Global Wellness Institute's 2023 Global Wellness Tourism Economy report underscores this growth, revealing that North America ($1.9 trillion), Asia-Pacific ($1.7 trillion), and Europe ($1.5 trillion) collectively contribute to 90% of the global wellness economy. Notably, per capita spending on wellness is notably higher in North America ($5,108) and Europe ($1,596), signifying a strong willingness to invest in wellness travel within these regions.

The study emphasizes a shift toward preventive and holistic health approaches, particularly relevant as the rising sedentary lifestyles in Europe impact mental well-being. According to the German Insurance (DKV) report this August revealed that sedentary time has risen to an average of 554 minutes per day in 2023, an increase of half an hour from 2021 (523 minutes). This is also strengthened by an interview with FitReisen, who says that their customers are increasingly seeking mental and physical regeneration through innovative programs encompassing mental coaching, modern weight management, and vital camps.

To stay relevant in this dynamic market, Loop Wellbeing Shows align with current trends by showcasing Destination Spas at the forefront of the industry. For instance, our Winter loop partner, Palace Merano, has recently introduced the REVITAL MEDICAL DETOX—a 4-day treatment designed to strengthen the immune system. This comprehensive program includes a detox diet, energy massages, hydrotherapy, naturopathy treatments, and additional modules featuring vitamin drips, ozone therapy, and fitness sessions with a personal trainer. Meanwhile, our Summer loop wellbeing partner, Kamalaya, offers cutting-edge regenerative treatments such as IV therapy infusions, ozone therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and high-sensitivity preventive cancer screening. These innovative therapies are seamlessly integrated into Kamalaya’s Wellness Programs for 2023, ensuring Loop Wellbeing remains aligned with the latest advancements in the wellness industry.

Loop Wellbeing Cooking Experience
Can you give me a sneak peek into the shows planned for the upcoming year?
The upcoming event, scheduled for January 13-17, 2024, will take place at Palace Merano in Italy, renowned as one of Europe’s premier wellbeing hotels, and in June 15-19, 2024, at Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand, recognized as the Worldwide Health & Wellness Destination of the Year by the World Spa & Wellness Awards.

What types of exhibitors typically participate in Loop Wellbeing Shows, and how do you curate the exhibitor line-up to enhance the attendee experience?
Our lineup includes not only destination spas but also hotels and resorts with distinctive spa offerings. For instance, some of our hotel partners feature top-notch osteopaths, embodying the concept of hotels providing something truly exceptional.
Coffee break during a mocktail training at the Loop Wellbeing show
Loop Wellbeing Shows seem poised to become a leader in the wellness market. What strategies or principles do you believe contribute to this potential leadership position? 
The strategies and principles we believe contribute to this potential leadership position revolve around organic growth. Our mission is pragmatic - focusing on enabling everyone to be a sales catalyst and multiplier. We believe that developing Wellness Sales experts are essential for hotels to thrive and continue making a positive impact. By developing these experts through loop wellbeing, we aim to contribute to the overall growth and success of the wellness industry.
special offerings.

What sets Loop Wellbeing apart is its format, which simplifies and adds a touch of enjoyment to selling wellness within the travel trade. Additionally, our latest platform, loop+ will be launching a dedicated wellbeing section. Registered users can access knowledge both online and offline, including presentations of each hotels with their rates and contact persons. This platform serves as a valuable resource for gaining insights into Wellness Programs offered by different hotels worldwide, with the crucial contact person who can provide rates and facilitate client arrangements.

How do you envision Loop Wellbeing Shows influencing the broader conversation and trends in the global wellness industry?
Our vision for Loop Wellbeing Shows extends beyond mere expertise. We aspire to influence the broader conversation and trends in the global wellness industry by fostering a collaborative and supportive community. Attendees of Loop Wellbeing not only become Wellness experts but also cultivate relationships with each other. This collaborative atmosphere helps clients find the right wellness offerings, facilitating their transformative journeys. For both travel agents and Wellness Spas, this translates into increased sales.

Our goal is to contribute to the industry's development, creating a network where knowledge-sharing and relationship-building take precedence. Ultimately, this collaborative approach benefits clients, travel agents, and Wellness Spas alike, reinforcing Loop Wellbeing Shows as a key influencer in shaping the trends and conversations within the global wellness landscape.

Farewell party during one of the Loop Wellbeing Shows
Buyers and suppliers- please apply to join the Loop wellbeing.

I would like to to extend a special invitation to both buyers and suppliers in the wellness industry. At Loop wellbeing, we are committed to making a difference in the wellness industry by developing the Wellness consultant. For those seeking answers, connections, and transformative experiences in the world of wellness travel, we encourage you to apply and join the Loop Wellbeing community. Together, let's shape the future of wellness and create meaningful connections in the industry.

- Astrid Oberhummer
Zoila Checa
Zoila's true passion lies in the art of storytelling, whether that is in print, online, or on screen. Bilingual in English and Spanish since she was born, and versatile by nature, she has a professional background in journalism, travel writing, and screen acting, all of which have led her to live and work in places like London, Madrid, Ibiza and Los Angeles. For Zoila, writing serves as an ingenious channel to convey her profound love for soulful travel, singular cultures, and their transformative impact. She currently resides in Mallorca, her native island in Spain.