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Building a Better Spa: Face & Body 2007 Spa & Healthy Aging Conference and Expo

By Abby Penning
Posted: April 14, 2008, from the November 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Looking to bring their spas to the next level of business success, owners, managers and estheticians recently descended upon Moscone South in downtown San Francisco to get in on the innovative ideas, surefire solutions and business-building prospects available at the 15th annual Face & Body Spa & Healthy Aging Conference and Expo, held from Saturday, Aug. 25, to Monday,
Aug. 27, 2007.
       Product-neutral advanced education conference sessions, networking breakfast and lunch opportunities, manufacturer classrooms, exhibitor presentation areas and an expo hall full of top-of-the-line spa companies and products awaited this year’s more than 7,200 attendees. These opportunities provided a unique chance to learn about a range of business ideas and industry trends from a variety of spa experts, not to mention more than 450 booths worth of supplies and products from better than 250 companies. And attendees dived right in, soaking up all the three-day conference and expo had to offer.

Coffee and conversation
  The conference began on Saturday morning with conference director and Skin Inc. magazine editor in chief Melinda Taschetta-Millane opening the Attack the Morning Networking Breakfast by introducing the event’s featured speaker, Richard Williams, spa director of The Peninsula Bangkok in Thailand. The audience attentively listened and took notes as Williams discussed the importance of creating a dynamic peer network through engagement, communication, listening, knowing your audience, creating a healthy environment, prioritizing and following up.
       After sharing personal experiences and his own industry insights, Williams responded to audience questions and comments, answering inquiries about the Asian spa market, international education, medical spa trends, treatments, market ratios and more. He also allowed attendees at each table the opportunity to converse with each other, asking them to share their spa experiences and lessons with the entire group. This gave everyone a chance to begin networking right then and there.
       The chance to exchange ideas continued at midday with the Networking Box Lunch facilitated by Bryan Durocher, president of Durocher Enterprises. The luncheon began with the presentation of the second annual Best of the Best Awards, honoring those spas and supplier companies at the top of their industry game. Taschetta-Millane and associate editor Cathy Christensen announced awards in 10 categories, five on the industry side and five on the supplier side, with representatives from spas and supplier companies graciously thanking both readers and judges, as well as discussing what it takes to win such a coveted award.
       Durocher then focused the audience on the networking aspect of the day, talking about how the United States is becoming a spa innovator on the worldwide stage, with countries beginning to look toward U.S. shores for inspiration. Spurring conversation at the tables, attendees discussed topics such as service customization, compensation and productivity, marketing campaigns and male clientele. After sharing discussion points from several of the tables, a rousing game of Spa Bingo was initiated. Filled with tidbits of information that helped the audience get to know one another better, attendees went from table to table finding others that possessed the qualities listed in their bingo squares. The first four audience members to fill in all of their squares won a bag of signature San Francisco Ghirardelli chocolates.

Conference call
       Between and after the networking events, attendees also had the chance to check out the product-neutral advanced education conference sessions on a variety of topics, all associated with five important industry tracks—Esthetic Science; Healthy Aging; Spa, MD; Trends; and Owner’s Forum: Profitability. Led by industry professionals from around the globe, the classes included information on everything from the resurgence of peels and demystification of technology to indigenous ingredients and business training. One session even included live Botox*, dermal filler and laser/intense pulsed light (IPL) procedures.
       “I’ve been here all three days, and I think the show is very well done,” said Veda Horner, owner of Oasis for Skin Care in Bakersfield, California. “Everybody here is very professional, everybody is very well-trained, and that’s something that we come to the shows for—the advanced training. I thought it was amazing. It really is very in-depth information, but that’s what we come for.”
       Along with manufacturer classrooms and exhibitor presentation areas on the expo floor, co-located events continued the education trend on Sunday and Monday, as well. Your Profitable Business Now!, an event hosted by Bryan Durocher and Durocher Enterprises on Sunday, led attendees through the creation of a highly successful business. Information about how to hire a top team, motivate employees, provide retail incentives and set short- and long-term productivity goals were among the topics of discussion.
       Monday saw the return of the Medical Esthetic Conference, now in its fourth year. The event, featuring Austine Mah, managing editor of PCI Journal, included classes such as “The Art of Consultative Selling: Taking Your Practice to the Next Level” and “Medical Spa Startup: Are You Ready?,” taught by industry experts lending their experience and guidance to those interested in the medical spa field.
       Even those who were unable to attend Face & Body 2007 are able to benefit from its educational options, as select presentations are available online.

Exploring the expo
       Sunday morning saw the opening of the expo floor, filled with eager exhibitors and attendees alike. With a myriad of booths and education options to explore and experience, attendees didn’t have to look far to find something that suited their varying interests. Multiple aisles of supplier booths gave attendees the opportunity to interact directly with exhibiting companies’ employees, and manufacturer classrooms taking place throughout the late morning and afternoon on both Sunday and Monday offered insights into product lines and the companies behind them, often using product feature displays. Meanwhile, exhibitor presentation area stages dotted the expo floor, showcasing demonstrations and techniques from various exhibitors.
       “My experience walking around the show was good,” said Colleen Cunningham, an esthetician and owner of Skin Deep Beauty Therapy in San Diego. “I always go with my shopping list, and it’s great to be able to talk to the vendors and gather information and not be so overwhelmed. It was a quality group of vendors, and the show was well-attended. I recommend Face & Body to everybody, and I always look forward to it.”

See you next year
       Don’t miss out on one of the greatest business opportunities in the spa industry. Get the lowdown on all the hot topics, products and spa business solutions by making sure you join us next year for Face & Body 2008 Spa & Healthy Aging Conference and Expo at San Francisco’s Moscone North from Aug. 16–18, 2008!