I’m back from the Global Spa Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, and my mind is buzzing with all of the amazing experiences and ideas. It was a wonderful event, filled with truly interesting speakers, relevant reports and statistics, powerful brainstorming sessions, and incomparable networking opportunities. Here are a few highlights:
- The session kicked off with a thought-provoking talk by Edie Weiner, a world-renowned futurist who got us all thinking about our industry and its future. One of her most compelling points—look to the 65-and-older set. Though the group traditionally gets lumped into one 65-plus demographic, this population is growing, has money to spend, and has wellness and health needs that our industry can satisfy.
- The day continued with a presentation from Katherine Johnston of SRI International on her company’s comprehensive market research, Spas & the Global Wellness Market: Synergies & Opportunities. Best lesson: The worldwide wellness market has a nearly $2 trillion value. That number is staggering, but so are the opportunities it presents.
- In other good news, Jan Freitag from Smith Travel Research reported on the latest benchmarking stats in Hotels & Luxury Spas. The good news? A slow recovery is underway. The first quarter of this year is showing improvement over the dismal years of 2008 and 2009. However, discounting is still prevalent across both hotels and spas, so we all face the challenge of bringing our prices slowly back up. Another interesting find is that salon service numbers are up, so it may be time to refocus on your spa’s haircare and nailcare offerings. We’ll be doing just that in our Hair & Nail Supplement in the July issue, so don’t miss it.
- One of the big talking points of the conference involved bridging the gap between medicine and spa, and Dr. Ken Pelletier spoke on just that topic and got us all thinking about what we can do. The healthcare system is not sustainable in its current form, so he tasked us all with coming up with innovative ways to work with insurance companies, doctors, and other healthcare professionals to make preventative medicine a priority.
- Other hot topics of the day included a look at Wellness Tourism from the perspectives of Terry Stevens, Ph.D., who talked about global trends and best practices, and Laszlo Puczko, who discussed both past and present developments in Wellness Tourism.
- We also got to experience some of the best hammams Turkey has to offer, thanks to a presentation by Aysegul Sungar. I was so inspired that I’m working on a story on the growing hammam trend in the U.S. for one of the fall issues of American Spa.
- The day concluded with research presentations on benchmarking, today’s spa consumer, and medical tourism. Stay tuned to the August issue of American Spa for more in-depth reports on these findings.
- Evening activities included a cruise on the Bosphorus and dinner at the spectacular Les Ottomans Hotel, where I toured the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, an inspiring spa that had such unique offerings as a Dead Sea Salt flotation pool and a futuristic-looking meditation room.
- The next morning kicked off with a discussion on Architecture & Design and was followed by a keynote address by the incomparable Philippe Bourguignon, who talked about the evolution of luxury and what we can expect in 2025 when it comes to wellness.
- I then attended a breakout session on spa retail, and my takeaway on this? This is a topic that inspires passion in spa owners and directors and in spa product manufacturers, and there are some wonderful ways we can all be working together to grow our business—but it’s going to take a lot of work. In fact, this is perhaps one of the most asked-about topics here at American Spa, which is why we recently debuted Shelf Life, a guide to growing your retail business. Stay tuned for our next edition in October.
- After a lovely lunch with Dr. Murad, where I learned more about his company’s new partnership with Massage Envy, we headed off to an afternoon that focused on technology and social media. We here at American Spa do have a new website, a blog, and Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I left with about five pages of notes on what we can be doing to make our online presence even more impactful, thanks to a report by Marc Smith and a panel led by Fairmont Raffles’s Anne McCall. Let me tell you — if you haven’t thought about your online offerings, it is time to start. Check out our May story, “Virtual Bliss,” for information about how online booking and gift card capabilities can help grow your business, and watch for our September issue, where we’ll report about the importance of social networking.
Also, be sure to check out our August issue, which will feature event photos, research reports, and more on the 2010 Global Spa Summit. It was an incomparable experience, and I look forward to sharing it with you.