Spa networking, Indian-style

This week marks the 7th annual Global Spa & Wellness Summit, taking place this year in the land of ayurveda, India. This important event for global spa and wellness leaders coincides with the inaugural Global Wellness Tourism Congress, and boasts the largest turnout ever this year, with 377 delegates from 42 countries. It’s being held at the Oberoi Gurgaon, a five-star luxury property in the business suburb of Delhi.

The conference agenda begins tomorrow, but this afternoon featured a selection of discussion salons as the last delegates were arriving. The informal salons were organized around a specific topic and hosted by industry leaders. Many interesting concepts and ideas were discussed.

All Things Mobile—The View from Silicon Valley was hosted by Clare Martorana, current practice leader for wellness consultant Wisdom Works, and former general manager of WebMD, who has learned something about internet communications after building WebMD into an online presence with 120 million active users. Martorana made the point that the growth in mobile/smart phones cannot be denied: consumers want information when, where and how they want it, and companies that don’t provide that option will be quickly left behind.

There are now mobile applications for tracking personal biometrics, fitness goals, sleep patterns, calorie counts and cardiovascular activity, but spas aren’t currently leveraging these abilities. Challenges posed include finding ways for spas to measure client biometrics before and after treatments to support efficacy, and encouraging clients to utilize these available tools as part of their illness prevention strategies. Martorana advised that the spa industry has a huge opportunity to “own” wellness in the mobile world.

Cathy Feliciano-Chon of marketing powerhouse CatchOn facilitated Raise the Red Lantern or Fly the White Flag: Understanding the Outbound Chinese Traveler, with tips for spas and hospitality brands on attracting and catering to this huge market, which is forecast to grow to 100 million travelers by 2015. The Chinese traveler is looking for quality experiences, they seek a social element, and want to be educated on how to enjoy the lifestyle the west has embraced for many years now.

Massage Envy’s vice president of product development, CG Funk, hosted an HR discussion, Your Assets Wear Shoes! Raising Awareness of Massage and Spa Careers. This is a global challenge, as revealed by last year’s GSWS commissioned study on the education gaps in the spa marketplace. However, as evidenced in the discussion, it will continue to be a challenge as the reasons differ from country to country, from licensing to lack of education or service orientation to salary issues. Funk wondered if a PR campaign would help raise the profile of spa therapy as a career, but it was difficult to determine how to target such an effort. Everyone agreed that a clear career path and methods to attract viable candidates were of primary importance for our industry. Recruiting great attitudes is not a problem, but finding great skill sets is.

The evening featured a cocktail reception outdoors on the lawn at the neighboring Trident Hotel. Lanterns were hung in the trees, incense scented the air, and candles and flowers lined the walkways of a grassy outdoor courtyard. After a welcome by GSWS Chairman Susie Ellis, 2013 Organizing Committee Chairman Andrew Gibson and President of the Oberoi Group Kapil Chopra, delegates were treated to traditional Indian music and delicious street foods while getting to know each other or reconnecting with colleagues.

Visit our blog for updates over the next few days as the conference gets into full swing.—Lisa Starr

This report was brought to you courtesy of Hydrafacial.

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