LEXINGTON, Ky. - An assembly of nearly 3,000 spa professionals from 39 countries convened for the 2008 International SPA Association Conference & Expo. Held Nov. 10-13 at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., USA, the 18th annual Conference comprised more than 380 first-time attendees; 54 hours of education; and an Expo with 304 companies, including more than 100 new product launches.
"One of the things that impressed me the most this year was the number of first-time attendees; proving that the spa industry is a growing and viable career choice," said ISPA President Lynne McNees. "The impressive attendance at this year's ISPA Conference & Expo proves that industry professionals know that ISPA is the place to turn for information and tools to help their business through a changing economy."
Kicking things off on Nov. 10, outgoing ISPA Chairman Jim Root announced that digital versions of all previous studies and the new ISPA 2008 Global Consumer Study and ISPA 2008 U.S. Spa Industry Update are now available to every ISPA member as a complimentary member benefit. The inaugural Global Consumer Study is a quantitative report that includes demographics, customer service attitudes, treatment preferences, pricing and number of spa-goers for 15 countries. The ISPA 2008 U.S. Spa Industry Update includes new statistics on revenue, visits, locations, employment and square footage for spas in the United States.
Newly elected ISPA Chairman Jean Kolb began her term during Conference by sharing the encouraging results of the recent snapshot survey showing that ISPA members are withstanding the current economic climate in spa visits, revenue and profit change. "By bringing our members the most up-to-date and relevant information, we are able to keep them ahead of the game in the spa industry. I am so proud that we will be offering free research to our members as data is the foundation for developing and maintaining a successful business."
Embracing the attendees with good cheer and wisdom was master of ceremonies, Dr. Bertice Berry. Some of the highlights from the General Session stage included:
- Opening General Session keynote speaker Dewitt Jones, National Geographic photographer and Academy Award-nominated director, addressed attendees for the second time. He urged attendees to "transform the ordinary into the extraordinary through great visions that release passion."
- Tuesday brought financial guru Jean Chatzky to the stage. Chatzky is the financial editor for NBC's "Today" Show, a contributing editor for More magazine, a columnist for The New York Daily News, and a contributor to "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She offered some practical advice to "spend less than you bring in."
- Wednesday's Visionary Panel included Kerstin Florian, president, Kerstin Florian International; Guy Kawasaki, managing director, Garage Technology Ventures and Forbes columnist; Colin McIlheney, global research director, PricewaterhouseCoopers; and Pam McNair-Wingate, founder, Gadabout Salon Spas. The panel discussed the economy and its affects on the spa industry as well as fielded questions from the audience. The question, "How can spa help people during these difficult times?" was addressed by Kerstin Florian when she suggested, "if you don't have the time or resources for a massage you should at least go down to the spa to take the waters."
- As a final message to attendees, Academy Award winner Sir Sidney Poitier shared the story of his rise to fame. He chose moments from his life to relive with attendees to show how perseverance, accepting help from others and gratitude can lead you down the right path. Poitier reminded attendees to "always be grateful for people that unselfishly help you in life," like the man who worked with Poitier in a New York restaurant who taught him to read, and the police officer who gave him the address of an orphanage when he had no where else to go.
- The ISPA Dedicated Contributor and Visionary Awards were presented to the late Robin Zill, co-founder of TouchAmerican Inc. Zill is the first person to receive both awards, which her children accepted on her behalf. The ISPA Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award was presented to Sir Sidney Poitier during the closing General Session via a special video presentation from the godmother of spa, Deborah Szekely, founder, Rancho La Puerta.
Plans are underway to provide more invaluable education and networking at the ISPA Conference & Expo in 2009. The event is set for Oct. 5-8 at The Hilton Austin and the Austin Convention Center - Austin, Texas, USA. Additional information is available at http://www.experienceispa.com/.
About the International SPA Association
ISPA is recognized worldwide as the leading professional organization and voice of the spa industry. Founded in 1991, ISPA advances the spa industry by providing invaluable educational and networking opportunities, promoting the value of the spa experience and speaking as the authoritative voice to foster professionalism and growth.