Have you ever had a preconceived idea that proved to be off the mark? There’s nothing like firsthand research, thoughtful deliberation and debating conflicting opinions to merge perception into reality—the basis of all successful decision-making. This came to a culmination for me at the three-day SpaAsia Wellness Summit 2007 held in October in the Philippines, that dealt with the business realities of the Asian spa world. Organized by SpaAsia magazine, the summit hosted approximately 300 spa owners and industry leaders from throughout Asia and provided a forum to collaborate, network, debate and learn from global industry professionals. It also included the gala SpaAsia Crystal Awards that honor some of the industry’s finest. I personally took away many new perspectives on worldwide trends, including practical business considerations such as the quest for talent—hiring, motivating and retaining staff; benchmarks for financial success; the age of wellness and going green while remaining profitable; how the consumer figures into our radar; and the place of medical spas and medical tourism in this industry.
A star panel that included Dieter Buchner, Urban Healing Co.; Neil Jacobs, senior vice president of operations, Asia Pacific Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts; Anna Bjurstam, managing director, Raison d’Etre; Anni Hood, group director, Spa of Jumeirah Group; and Lisa Starr, senior business consultant, Wynne Business, led the group in a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis for the Asian industry. This analysis helped provide a snapshot of what the industry is doing well, the primary areas to work on and trends for the future.
To briefly highlight what I discovered:
The overwhelming No. 1 weakness repeatedly stated was lack of personnel, both therapists and management. A dissenting voice suggested the underlying problem was that spa owners weren’t willing to invest in training and coaching.
The No. 2 weakness is getting past the core group of customers and attracting the mid-level and periphery, which also is a common problem in the United States.
What do clients want? According to this group, an element of surprise—something to take them out of the everyday norm that creates an enhanced spa experience. Clients want to experience your passion for what you do.
What did I end up walking away with at the conclusion of the summit? Clearly that first and foremost, nurturing and feeding passion needs to be a top priority in any business. You may want to do as I did—throw your preconceived notions out the window, and instead network with some industry peers to delve into your own set of business realities affecting the spa world.