Leading her final Conference as the Chairman of the International SPA Association, Kate Mearns set the tone for the week during the opening General Session, "If each spa professional continues to work together for the good of our consumer, our industry will be unstoppable. With invisible walls and invisible borders and a common goal. We will be able to provide a spa experience that has purpose. Through our business objectives, our personal innovations and tireless passion we help inspire our guests to create their own life balance - their own harmony."
A record-breaking more than 3,300 spa professionals from 37 countries gathered for the 2006 International SPA Association Conference & Expo. Held Nov. 6-9 at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., USA, the 16th annual Conference included an unprecedented more than 400 first-time attendees; 43 hours of education; and an Expo with 241 companies, more than 100 new product launches and 20 new exhibitors.
"The record attendance at the 2006 ISPA Conference & Expo demonstrates the growth of the industry and the strength of the ISPA community," said ISPA President Lynne Walker McNees. "Whether attendees come for the networking, education, to gather product and treatment ideas, or simply to network and make new friends - this harmonious event allows spa professionals to celebrate the industry they love."
Even though the Venetian is one of the largest hotels in the world, the harmony from the ISPA community was felt throughout the vast space. "Even with this year's record attendance, the feel of the ISPA Conference & Expo is that of a welcoming community where everyone knows your name," said newly-elected ISPA Chairman Jim Root. "There were numerous nooks where attendees would exchange hugs, have impromptu meetings or simply sit for a while and plan their day. There were also plenty of handshakes and business cards being swapped in the Expo, Professional Development Sessions and networking events."
Adding to the feeling of community as the master of ceremonies, Dr. Bertice Berry guided attendees with music, dancing, humor and wisdom. The highlights coming from the General Session stage were plentiful.
- The opening General Session featured Dan Burrus, a leading futurist who offered insight on how to help businesses thrive in a world that is constantly changing. He urged attendees to "tell a story, don't give definitions."
- Tuesday's Visionary Panel included Dr. Michael Jacobson, Ginny Lopis, Sylvia Sepielli, Arch Stokes and Deborah Szekely. The attendees connected with Stokes' reference to Aristotle's description of how to be most persuasive by combining ethos (ethics/character), pathos (passion) and logos (logical reasoning).
- John Wooden, former UCLA teacher/coach and author, inspired Wednesday's crowd with his words of wisdom on maintaining a successful and balanced life. The presentation, which resulted in several standing ovations, ended with the following poem: "You're a hunter and a seeker, not for silver or for gold. Not for treasure or for pleasure or for anything that's sold. You're a connoisseur of living as you move along life's way. We're the warriors of tomorrow, for you have found today. Enjoy today - today is the day!"
- As a final message to attendees, the eloquent Immaculée Ilibagiza, author of the autobiography "Left to Tell," shared her story of survival through the Rwandan genocide. Ilibagiza described her experience of finding understanding and forgiveness and closed with the song "Amazing Grace."
In what has become an ISPA Conference tradition, the association released two new studies and five key industry figures. Some key take-aways included that there are currently 13,757 spas in the United States, industry revenue grew by 18 percent between 2003 and 2005, and 57 million American adults have been to a spa. The "ISPA 2006 Spa-goer Study" and "ISPA 2006 Consumer Report: Spa-goer and Non-spa-goer Perspectives" are available for purchase online at http://www.experienceispa.com/cms/cms/articles/. The new industry figures may be downloaded from the Web site free of charge.
Plans are underway to provide more invaluable education and networking at the ISPA Conference & Expo in 2007. The event is set for Nov. 12 - 15 at The Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla., USA. Additionally, ISPA's International Spa & Wellness Conference and Exhibition is set for June 7-9 in Shanghai, China. Additional information on both events is available on http://www.experienceispa.com/cms/cms/articles/.
ISPA is recognized worldwide as the leading professional organization and voice of the spa industry. Founded in 1991, ISPA's membership is comprised of more than 2,700 health and wellness facilities and providers from 75 countries. ISPA strives to advance the professionalism of the spa industry by providing invaluable educational and networking opportunities, to promote the value of the spa experience to society and to be the authoritative voice of the spa industry.