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How companies are rolling out the wellness mat for business travellers

JOHANNESBURG – For far too long, corporate travel has prioritised back-to-back meetings over back rubs, redeyes over relaxation, and airport coffees over self-care. Somewhere along the journey from airport lounge to hotel to conference room, wellness got left behind. 

But that’s all changing faster than you can say “namaste”. A wellness revolution is happening in the world of business travel. Glamping getaways, yoga retreats, transformational festivals. Wellness-centric experiences are surging into the mainstream.

However, Bonnie Smith, GM of Corporate Traveller, says most companies are on the back foot. “Company policies, hotel and flight offerings have remained relatively static, centred around maximising productivity and output rather than nurturing employee wellbeing. They must embrace this new reality and realise that employee satisfaction, performance and retention rely on a more holistic approach.”

The wellness revolution has arrived

The potential is spurring innovative hotels and hospitality players to target the corporate wellness niche. One exciting corporate travel trend emerging is corporate retreats. The offering marries business travel and wellness programming.

By partnering with wellness-focussed hotels or destinations, companies can take off-site meetings, team building workshops and strategy sessions to environments purpose-built for restoration. Massages, outdoor adventure, healthy meals, meditation spaces and movement sessions are all on the agenda – seamlessly integrated into more traditional meetings and workshops.

Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach

This pivot expands beyond retreats into bleisure travel trends as well. Business trips increasingly incorporate holiday time before or after work commitments so employees avoid rushing back to crowded calendars and overflowing inboxes.

Bringing family members along helps frequent travellers combat loneliness and long separations from loved ones – contributing to better mental health.

Today’s workforce is infinitely diverse, which calls for more personalised options that meet employees wherever they are on their wellness or life journey. Expecting new moms to adhere to a gruelling travel schedule designed for 20-somethings? No longer going to fly. Neither will forcing Gen Z digital nomads into cookie-cutter corporate housing. Instead, forward-thinking travel programmes allow for flexibility and choice, comments Smith.

“Simple policy shifts can also make space for wellness. Allowing route direct flights to minimise jet lag’s impacts allows employees to arrive rested instead of depleted. For example,” says Smith.

So, what does the future look like? Just picture the potential for overworked and overtired road warriors tapping into some of the new wellness travel trends. 

Tuning In with sound baths

Drifting off the deep relaxation as soothing tones wash over you may sound too woo-woo for the bump-and-go pace of business trips. But sound healing’s proven ability to melt away stress, improve sleep and boost mental clarity makes it a perfect antidote for the travel weary. Even quick combined sessions could work magic when strategically timed between long flights or first thing at a wellness resort.

Silencing sensory overload

Constant stimulation is the nemesis of focus and vitality when travelling for work. Yet unwinding in front of the TV or scrolling social media just aggravates stress. Enter silent retreating. Allocating intentional technology and talking fasts could give business travellers’ nervous systems a much-needed break. Attentiveness and creativity tend to skyrocket post-silence. And what businessperson wouldn’t benefit from that?

Realigning with nature

Nature bathing, forest therapy, moonlight meditations… these wellness trends leverage awe-inspiring environments and intentional activities designed to shift perspective and frequency through connection. What better antidote to burnout than realigning with something bigger than a never-ending to-do list? Even quick guided outdoor sessions or complimentary wellness add-ons at corporate retreats provide business travellers with the mental clarity and inspiration they crave.

Sound a little out there? Maybe. But the rising stress endemic among business travellers demands innovative solutions, says Smith. Half of South Africans have experienced stress so intense that it temporarily prevented them from going to work, according to a survey by Ipsos. And it costs us – over R218 billion in lost working hours, according to a study by SADAG and Discovery Health.

“Out-of-the-box wellness approaches have great potential for group and incentive travel too,” Smith continues. “As demand increases for restorative experiences, companies should get ahead of the curve and seriously consider taking advantage of their benefits,” concludes Smith.

For more information about Corporate Traveller, or to interview Corporate Traveller South Africa GM Bonnie Smith, call Dorine Reinstein on 083 278 8994 or email


About Corporate Traveller

Corporate Traveller is a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group, dedicated to saving businesses across Southern Africa time and money. Corporate Traveller has the benefit of being part of the world’s third-largest travel retailer, leveraging its global negotiating strength. It has access to over 50 of the world’s leading airlines and deals with more than 100 000 hotels around the world to guarantee savings for clients. Corporate Traveller provides clear, consolidated reporting of all its clients’ travel activities, helping them to control travel spend and identify opportunities to save costs.

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Big Ambitions

Dorine Reinstein

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