If you’ve attended an ISPA Conference & Expo, you’ve likely met or been taught by Dr. Bryan Williams. A perennial favorite among ISPA members, Williams and his impactful education sessions on service and leadership excellence have been constant figures at ISPA Conferences each fall. In recognition of his contributions to the ISPA community, Williams will be honored with this year’s ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award.Pulse spoke with Williams about his career in spa and hospitality, what the award means to him and how spa has changed over the past 13 years.

Pulse: Can you tell me more about your career path and how you initially became involved with ISPA?

Dr. Bryan Williams: I grew up working in the luxury hotel business, primarily with Ritz-Carlton Hotels. I was fortunate to have 17 roles, ranging from busboy to Global Corporate Director of Training and Organizational Effectiveness. When I started my speaking and consulting business in 2006, ISPA was one of the first conferences and the first spa conference that I spoke at. The ISPA Director of Education at the time emailed me to inquire about my speaking because she had recently seen an article that I wrote about the “Voice of the Customer.”

P: And what was that first conference like?

W: Although I had been a professional speaker for multiple years as that point, I was super nervous! By God’s grace, the session turned out to be a major success, and i distinctly remembered more and more people pouring into the training room during the session until there were no more seats and people were standing all around the room and out through the door! Then, there was a long line of attendees waiting to thank me for the session. I had never witnessed such a display of eagerness to learn mixed with immense gratitude. It was a humbling experience.

P: You’ve given a lot of time, energy and love to the ISPA family over the years. What’s been the most rewarding part of that relationship?

W: The amazing relationships I’ve built with people all over the world. it’s the most humbling experience when someone sees or emails me years later and explains what they learned and the actual results they’ve achieved as a result of something they learned from me.

P: What’s your most memorable ISPA Conference & Expo experience?

W: There are so many; but it has to be when I was fortunate to be on the general session stage in 2016 and recited my “Sacred Ground” poem and everyone in the audience stood and joined in to help recite. I still get goosebumps thinking of that moment!

P: Based on your perception, how have the challenges faced by spas changed since you first became involved with ISPA?

W: Today, one of the biggest challenges I see is the shortage of strong leaders who understand the importance of constructive feedback and possess the skills needed to give it. Without that skillset, I’ve noticed that unacceptable individual and team performance are tolerated… which, of course, causes such performance to increase.

P: You’re the first educational speaker to receive the ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. What does receiving the award mean to you?

W: It means everything to me! I didn’t even know that I am the first educational speaker to get this award. Truly humbling indeed.

P: What's the most important piece of advice you can give to ISPA members?

W: Literally treat your team exactly how you want them to treat the guests. in other words, do everything you can to serve your team and make them the recipient of the caliber of service that you expect them to provide.

P: What’s the first step that a spa director should take towards improving the overall performance of their staff?

W: Clearly and vividly articulate the vision of where you want the spa to be ten years from now. What legacy do we want to leave? What accomplishments will we achieve? How will our guests, team members, competitors and the industry describe our spa?


Hometown: “St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.”

Favorite Vacation Spot: “Bali, Indonesia.”

Favorite Spa Treatment: “Deep tissue massage mixed with shiatsu.”

Personal Motto: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.’ Proverbs 3:27.”

Favorite Color: “Purple.”

Ideal Day Off: “If it’s warm, I would spend the day with my family in downtown Washington, D.C., enjoying the monuments, museums and restaurants. We love food!”