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Service Innovations and Experience Creation in Spas, Wellness and Medical Tourism

The Handbook of Managing and Marketing Tourism Experiences

ISBN: 978-1-78635-290-3, eISBN: 978-1-78635-289-7

Publication date: 28 December 2016



The main purpose of this chapter is to analyze the relationship between service innovation and experience creation in the context of spas, wellness and medical tourism. The objectives include providing an overview of service innovation theory and models and applying them to the spa, wellness and medical tourism sectors.


Primary research was undertaken with the purpose of identifying the most important elements in the experiences of spa and wellness guests and tourists. An online questionnaire was collected from 17 different types of spa and wellness facilities from 56 countries including all kinds of spa, wellness hotels, and retreats. Information given was based on three major demand segments: local customers, domestic tourists, and international tourists. A case study is also given of Pärnu hospital in Estonia, where innovative practices are being implemented to enhance the patient experience.


Findings suggested that some aspects of innovation (e.g., design and technology) are not as important as expected, but evidence-based treatments, medical services, and natural and local resources are.

Research limitations/implications

The research gives important insights into customer preferences and current and future trends; however, the research only focused on operator rather than consumer perspectives. This would require further research.

Practical implications

The research findings provide useful information to operators who are trying to create innovative, unique, and competitive customer services.


Existing service innovation models are applied to new sectors (spa, wellness and medical tourism) and new insights are given into how these sectors can increase innovation and enhance customer experiences.



Smith, M.K., Ferrari, S. and Puczkó, L. (2016), "Service Innovations and Experience Creation in Spas, Wellness and Medical Tourism", Sotiriadis, M. and Gursoy, D. (Ed.) The Handbook of Managing and Marketing Tourism Experiences, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 299-319.



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