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Field Trips for Grown-ups—DAYSPA visits the International Congress of Esthetics and Spa in Long Beach
As travel is typically our preferred form of education, DAYSPA's editors were stoked to take a jag down the coast to Long Beach yesterday to check out one of the country's biggest and longest-running trade shows. After all, it's not too often we get to be in a room—the show floor at the city's eponymous convention center—with thousands of industry experts, spa owners, product manufacturers and enthusiasts!
Compared to some of the louder, glitzier spa/beauty shows we attended over the summer, this gathering had a calm, cerebral feel (reason #4,001 I love working in an industry that values relaxation), but show-goers definitely did not check fun at the door! For instance, we got to sit in on spa owner/consultant Keith West-Harrison's seminar on upping your spa's retail sales, a witty slideshow tracing West-Harrison's transition from crotchety boss who couldn't understand why his therapists wouldn't upsell to enlightened, sales-trained retail guru. We also picked up on some valuable secrets (hint: your staff needs to know more about how to confidently deliver sales pitches, not further details on how the lavender your products contain was picked!).
After checking out some facial demos, we stopped in at the Spa Buzz Networking Event, which was easy enough to find thanks to a giant, silver airstream bus that the ladies of the Spa Buzz managed to drive straight onto the showroom floor. The Spa Buzz, an outfit launched by health and hospitality industry veteran Kristi Konieczny to connect spa and wellness industry insiders through networking events and activities, has used that bus for cross-country escapades throughout most of 2011. Traveling Spa Buzzers have spread the message of active and healthy living by partnering with like-minded sponsors—spas, farmer's markets, yoga and exercise festivals—throughout the states, where they'll park and stay for a while to drum up "buzz" about their health-seeking journey. This year's tour ends next month in New York City, but kicks up again in March. At the show, I got to tour the bus' adorable, retro-styled interior while Konieczny led roundtable discussions (no doubt enriched by wisdom gleaned on the road) touching on social currency and how to implement all components of your wellness-oriented business into your life.
We also spoke with Control Correctives Skincare's Ellen Clark, an esthetician-turned-spa-owner-turned-distributor-turned-manufacturer about her perspective on the industry after wearing so many hats, and had the privilege of meeting with advisory board member Eva Kerschbaumer, a spa owner who lent us some interesting story ideas (thanks, Eva!).
This year's show seemed to have an even greener focus than last year's, as it featured extensive roundtables on sustainability as well as several exhibitors touting their organic/natural skincare fare. Next time, I'm hoping to check out more manufacturers' workshops (and maybe a light therapy demo)!
Were you at the International Congress of Esthetics and Spa? What were your impressions? Sound off below!