By, Lisa M. Starr, Guest Editor
I’ve been in the spa industry for over 30 years, and for most of that time, we never had to consider what was happening with spas in other countries. But one of the wonderful developments in the new global economy is that spa brands stretch across borders, and clients do too! This is one of the reasons that the Global Spa Summit has become such an important annual event; 250 leaders and visionaries in spa and wellness from around the world meet for three days to discuss both the challenges and opportunities currently facing the spa industry. While there are different regulations and culture issues that will continue to affect the way service is delivered from one country to another, it is certainly helpful if we all share the same visions and dreams about what our industry can become, and our role in society today.
The 5th annual Summit was held last month in Bali, Indonesia, and there were several major themes that emerged. I think the most meaningful and important trend is the continued merging of spas and wellness, as evidenced by the numbers of physicians and medical professionals who were present. If spas want to continue to grow their clientele, we have to reach them on a deeper level; receiving a facial or massage is certainly enjoyable, but providing the education platform for clients to try new approaches and make changes in their habits and lifestyle that will have a lasting effect on their health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, is really where the industry is going. One of the main forces behind this movement are the out-of-control costs of healthcare, especially in the US, and if spas can influence people to make subtle but effective changes in their personal care, and become more of a tool for overall wellbeing, that will have a positive effect for the economy as well as the clients. A team of physicians, led by SpaFinder President Susie Ellis, spent the last year developing an evidence-based medicine portal which was unveiled at the Summit, spaevidence.com. This will be a wonderful tool that will facilitate the sharing of studies and data among spas, physicians and clients who want to learn more about the lasting benefits of spa treatments.
Fortunately for us, the world is only becoming more stress-filled, as the confluence of technologies and global business models leave little down-time. Especially for the younger generations, peer pressure and social circles drive many activities, and spas need to ensure they are providing environments that support social components of a spa visit.
Spa franchising is also a growing force, not just in the US, and there is a lot of opportunity here for strong brands with clearly defined infrastructure to grow into multi-unit chains. But, in spite of all of the technological innovations, spas remain a place where people touch people, and we have a meaningful role to play in the lives of our current and future consumers. If you’d like to read daily reports from the Summit presentations and breakouts, please visit my blog.
Lisa M. Starr, Community Ambassador GramercyOne; Senior Consultant Wynne Business