Hello Activities Guide, Goodbye Visitor’s Guide

by Maria K Todd, MHA PhD

Executive Director
Center for Health Tourism Strategy


“In developing a health and wellness tourism destination, you must develop tools to help your health and wellness tourism visitors to plan their experience in the context of any special needs.”


An Unfortunate Case Study

Caused by a lack of experience

Some destinations have followed the advice of consultants to create a medical tourism destination “directory”. The consultants convinced them to spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars to PRINT the directory and place it in hotel rooms throughout the city. They also paid the same consultants between USD $35,000 to 50,000 just to do the “layout” of the directory to prepare it for print. How you spend your money is your business, but the launch of a medical tourism destination development initiative must be carefully planned and executed for maximum impact and return.

Once the project was complete and executed, the subsequent measurement and evaluation of the output was later determined ineffective and a tremendous waste of precious resources — paper, money, time and opportunity.

What to do instead

Focus on context and audience

Health and wellness tourism visitors have special needs. In developing your guide, instead, consider the creation of an Activities Guide that focuses on activities that can be enjoyed by people with mobility challenges, special needs diets, special environments, and things to see and do as opposed to lists of local businesses and activities. Develop your guide through the eyes of a specialized health and wellness tourism travel writer who understands your guests’ special needs, limitations, energy levels that may be constrained by medication, pain or discomfort, medications that could predispose them to increased temporary photosensitivity, getting wounds wet, rupturing sutures, or other physician instructions to temporarily curtail strenuous activities during recuperation at your destination.

Consider a sustainable alternative

A branded, digital approach

Consider creating this as a digital guide that can be supplied in the form of a destination-branded downloadable “app” that can be downloaded onto a phone or tablet device without cost to the visitor. As you gain more and more sophistication, you can decide whether to incorporate proximity offers that can “beam” reminders, tips and special in-app offers to app users (after permission has been granted to do so, of course). A branded, digital downloadable application can be produced in less time and and at a lower cost than the unfortunate examples in our case study, but yield far greater effectiveness and impact, and is easily updated more frequently at a significantly lower maintenance cost.

If you need help, contact us and our experts will guide you every step of the way.

Speaker, Author, Medical Tourism Marketing and Strategy Expert


Maria Todd is a trusted adviser and expert specialist to hospitals, clinics, governments, healthcare business owners, investors, and independent professionals. Clients call on her to help them do a better job of marketing, branding, or contracting with insurers and employers, and to grow their business.

Maria is the CEO of Mercury Healthcare International, in Denver, Colorado and the founder of Mercury Health Travel, the leader of the Health Tourism Practice Group of Mercury Advisory Group, the Executive Director of the Center for Health Tourism Strategy, its research and education resource center, and a Board Member and Advisor at Higowell, the world’s first health tourism operations platform. She has been recognized as an Academician with the Ukrainian Academy of Rehabilitation and Human Health and is a member of the Scientific Committee of Termatalia in Spain. She is also a Board Member at Global Health Connections, a nonprofit organization associated with the University of Colorado MBA-HA program. She is the author of 15 internationally-published business improvement books in healthcare administration and health tourism. 

Invite Dr Todd to speak at your next event.  She presents a compelling workshop of interest to tourism and economic development officials, foreign investors, healthcare strategists, and suppliers on Opportunities for Economic Development through Inbound Medical Tourism Sector Development.


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