The Lithuanian medical tourism company “Wellness Travels”, founded by Gediminas Kondrackis and Paulius Jurgutis, is already counting its fifth year. The two young men, inspired to offer well-priced but high-quality medical services for foreigners in Lithuania, at first, intended to cover a wide range of services. After narrowing down the business idea, they focused on what is the most marketable and most relevant, that is, plastic surgery, dentistry and cosmetic procedures.
Currently, 95 per cent of services at “Wellness Travels” consists of plastic surgery. The company works almost exclusively with Kaunas clinics – mostly with “Aesthetic surgery centre”, “Kaunas Kardiolita” and various dental clinics.
“The institutions of Kaunas region fully meet the needs of our company, moreover, at least regarding plastic surgery, the clinics here are one of the strongest in the country, both concerning the quality of service and competitive prices,” says G. Kondrackis.
For this reason, the majority of “Wellness Travels” clients travel to Kaunas. It is not surprising: according to the statistics, the number of doctors per 10 thousand people in Kaunas city is one of the largest in Lithuania and reaches 82.4; the number of nurses and midwives total to 127.9; the number of dentists total to 18.9.
The most popular medical services in Kaunas are general medical treatment and diagnostics, plastic surgery, dentistry, orthopaedics and cardiology. The city not only has the capacity of medical institutions and specialists to provide for locals but also offers a wide range of healthcare services for incoming medical tourists.
“Our typical client usually visits Kaunas and Lithuania for the first time, often having almost no knowledge about our country. And almost always they are pleasantly surprised of what they see here,” says the head of the company. Most of their clients come from Scandinavia, Great Britain and Holland.
Gediminas and Paulius have also participated in the “Kaunas Startups” program, which helped them update their sales platforms and increase customer flows.
“One of our suggestions for “Kaunas Startups” was to create a video for Kaunas medical tourism – not to advertise a specific company but to show Kaunas as the centre of medical tourism.”
G.Kondrackis claims that it is far more critical in their business to advertise a country as a medical tourism destination rather than to promote one company or a clinic. For the same reason, they do not view other Lithuanian companies providing similar services as competitors: “Every patient brought both by them and by us is an advertisement to our country and city. Every satisfied client becomes an advertiser by spreading word-of-mouth publicity. If our colleagues in Lithuania work well, we are happy for them: the more clinics are involved, the more foreign medical tourists come here. Lithuania becomes a well-known destination in the West, and this encourages others to come here.”
According to Gediminas, the most significant competitors of Lithuanian medical tourism organisers are the neighbouring countries: Poland, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
“We have noticed that more distant countries – such as Romania, Bulgaria or Turkey – are not very strong competitors because Lithuania has a better reputation than the countries of the mentioned region. And in the field of medical tourism, the name has the greatest significance. So, being very dependent on the image of a country, we are helping to shape it.”
“We feel that the life in Kaunas is getting more intensive. The interest in the city is also growing – this is particularly reflected in the accommodation infrastructure. For example, in the first year of operation in Kaunas, the infrastructure has completely satisfied us, but lately, especially in the summer, we feel a lack of suitable accommodation for our clients. To find a solution, together with a colleague, we recently bought a flat for our patients. In this way, we are less dependent on hotels during the peak season. As far as I know, the city is already dealing with this problem, and we fully support this kind of initiatives,” says G. Kondrackis.
Interestingly, unlike traditional tourism, medical tourism is not limited by seasonality: the only “peaceful” period is during the big holidays, for a straightforward reason: doctors who should perform operations just do not work at that time.