I am so honored to be Co-Chairing the event this year with Susie Ellis and Jeff Mathews. This has been an exciting and busy year and I have a new appreciation for the work and commitment of Susie and Dulcy Gregory and others who have worked so hard on the Summits before this one.
Bali… we’re finally here and about to have an amazing time – it is like WHEW… I can see also that many of you have already started to feel a little “Bali” after being at Como Shambhala!
I am VERY pleased to announce that this year’s Global Spa Summit for 2011 is sold out and we actually turned away qualified delegates. This is quite an achievement as the GSS is only 5 years old.
As you can probably tell, it is truly part of the vision of the GSS to actually be Global! We have moved this Summit from the US to Switzerland to Turkey and now to Indonesia. Moving to Asia (and Bali) was a bit of a risk – especially at a time when the world economy had just started a slow recovery. But we had faith in all of you as it was so highly favored in last year’s voting.
We also wanted to ensure that we kept the integrity of the delegates who are invited. We want to attract the top in the industry – so we gave this task to a Committee headed by Andrew Gibson and Mani Berger. They went through the list of past invitees to ensure that only the top people were on it, they developed criteria for future invitations and then reached out to even more people in Asia. Here is their result: FROM over 35 countries, 26% EUROPE, 39% ASIA, 29% North America.
On a personal note, many of you know Andrew Gibson who is the head of spas with Mandarin Oriental. About two weeks ago, he developed some blood clots and needed to be in the hospital to get rid of them. He is doing very well and will recover fully BUT he can’t be with us this week. For the amount of work he did to make this successful – we are all disappointed that he can’t be with us but we are committed to connecting with him daily and letting him know what is happening.
In addition to expanding our global nature – I had my own PERSONAL goal this year and that was to make at least $1.00 in profit. You may not know, but we have been supported by SpaFinder and Susie and Pete Ellis for the past years. We wanted to get the GSS to be able to stand on its own financially. I am very pleased to tell you that we made our one dollar – and I think we will frame it when the accounting is all done! This achievement is thanks to Pete’s financial committee – and of course our sponsors. We also have to thank Jeff Matthews and his negotiating skills with his Logistics committee for negotiating the best rates possible. One thing I learned this year was not to ever end up negotiating against Jeff!
Finally, thanks to all of you for attending and investing your time to be here (and get here). I think we did get your attention with Bali as the destination and I think the agenda also generated some excitement – filled with great speakers and topics. The agenda committee this year consisted of me, Richard Dusseau and Susie Ellis along with the Research Committee of Anna Bjurstam and Mary Tabacchi – we have tried to do everything possible to give us an opportunity for rich and stimulating conversations.
GETTING ATTENTION ISN’T ENOUGH – ENGAGEMENT
So my goal was achieved with a lot of help. We attracted attendance and attention – BUT to be successful today in any business getting attention isn’t enough. Having customers or employees or in fact our delegates just show up isn’t enough. We have to get engagement. Satisfaction isn’t enough to sustain success either – but participation is.
- How many of you are here for the first time?
- How many have been to two or more Summits?
- How many of you have been to every GSS, wouldn’t miss it, and put it on your calendar a year in advance?
This is how we want all of our delegates or our customers in any business to be – engaged.
Successful businesses cannot look to reputation alone to measure success. Brand awareness, media coverage, open rates, click throughs, third party endorsements, and eyeballs just don’t guarantee our future anymore. The measure of importance is more about the amount of interaction we have with our customers or potential customers – their participation with our business is important.
Last year the GSS in Istanbul was great – I learned a lot from the speakers and panels. Many of the ideas that I implemented this year were explored or generated there. At the end of the conference, the Board had a meeting. We felt that there was so much more potential. We had a ton of ideas and suggestions because everything was fresh on our minds.
We started brainstorming and bombarding Susie and Dulcy with ideas but quickly came to the realization that if we were that excited about things we needed to get more engaged and take our endorsement of the GSS to full participation and go from being passive advisors to rolling up our sleeves and being contributors. We set up the committees I mentioned to address the agenda, research, invitations, student challenge, etc. AND it turned out to be a lot of fun! I can say that all of us feel more connected to each other and the GSS and we all feel totally responsible for the GSS this year. We have gone from having commitment and appreciation to full engagement and from advisor to participant.
So when it came time to select a theme for this conference – we had a lot of discussion. All themes have to advance our vision… collaboration/joining together/shaping the future – but there are always many options. At one meeting I mentioned an article I had read called “the Engagement Economy” by Jane McGonigal. It really resonated with Susie – she’s the most engaged person I know so it made sense. What you may not know about her is that she is relentless when she has an idea…. and she just kept coming back to this one. After a lot of dialogue, our theme became: Engage the Change: The Customer. The Money. The Future. Come to think of it, this really reflected the Co Chair’s personal interests too – mine being the customer, Jeff and Pete’s the money and Susie’s the industry future…That was our collaboration!!
So “Engage the Change: The Customer. The Money. The Future.” is the theme, how the agenda is set up and even the structure of how we will approach many of the sessions.
There was a time – actually a wonderful time – when customers simply bought what we sold and most owners didn’t really know what we did in the spa world and didn’t ask too many questions…ahhh… Frankly it was a wonderfully simple time. Spas were a calling that only the pure of heart entered into…it was a blessed time, easy, straightforward.
Then there was an awakening – a dawn of a new era – a change – customers found their voice…helped along by new technologies and social media. The roles have reversed now and customers influence everything – they even start revolutions and recruit followers. Customers are now in charge of what compels them into action – their interests and passions. Social media is a revolution in engagement and with it has come the additional requirements for transparency and authenticity. But fear not – the research also says that engagement comes with a need for… FUN.
The effect on the marketplace has been profound and fast and we as business leaders cannot be bystanders and simply pay attention or watch – our customers want to engage – so must we.
Our business success – the money – is also being affected by this change in our customers. As they have become more sophisticated as consumers AND as spa goers – a lot of opportunities have presented themselves. There are growing numbers of new business models that are bringing spas to a much wider audience.
Owners found their voice (and quite loudly) with the economic downturn and real estate collapse and this new engagement that is required with owners and investors is not always FUN. ROI for spa business must now be done on a stand-alone basis and not as a catalyst for real estate sales.
Some ask “Where’s the money?”– meaning both how do we make a return AND where do we now look to find investment in spa businesses? Things have changed from our first GSS in New York in 2008 where we had a strong panel of investors and many attendees representing Venture Capital companies – they are no longer courting us so enthusiastically. There are market opportunities though and we need to seek them out and understand them.
The future of our industry is also affected by the new customer engagement. Transparency and authenticity rule and our industry will be under scrutiny from many sides for its benefit and its ability to contribute to healthy lifestyles. The knowledge that our guests have and demand is growing – and this has to be matched by the knowledge of our leaders and our staff. An increasing number of people are on a quest for ways to improve health and lifestyle and take control.
One of the key topics at last year’s Summit was the need for evidence based medicine for spas and wellness. Stimulated by Dr. Ken Pelletier, we started a most engaged conversation with a commitment to do something about it. Our future – our relevance even as an industry perhaps is tied to this area.
The agenda is structured to follow the theme.
DAY ONE (TODAY) – THE CONSUMER
We are going to look at trends inside and outside of our industry, new technologies and social networking. We are going to investigate the Asian consumer specifically and then engage in some dialogue about branding in this new environment, and opportunities to use and understand the beauty business.
I just want to note that throughout the agenda we have tried to have a global balance but because we are in Asia – we have specifically geared some of our speakers and topics to this region.
We have brought in some experts to help with our conversations about consumers and I will introduce them to you in a few minutes. We will end this day with an amazing sensory presentation of future trends presented in a unique way – one which we not experienced before.
DAY TWO – THE MONEY
This day explores a variety of business topics including developing opportunities in China from insiders who represent a very distinguished group of spa business leaders from China as well as a dialogue with some of you outside of China who have now entered this huge market. This is the first year we have added translation for Mandarin by the way.
We will explore where the money has gone and where to find it, new business models and in particular franchising which is new to our industry and growing quickly – less than five years ago franchising didn’t really exist in our industry.
We will have dialogue on managing our businesses through cataclysmic events and even look to design as a potential ROI tool and brand-definer.
This is a very data rich day but ending with an inspirational presentation from John Hardy – a world renowned jewelry designer from Bali who also has a number of passions including the famous Green School.
DAY THREE – THE FUTURE (OF OUR INDUSTRY)
This day focuses on something that I am very excited about – the launch of our new evidence based medicine portal for spas and wellness. This could really increase the relevance of our industry.
We are also going to have a presentation and dialogue about our new research paper on Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism commissioned by the GSS and made possible with the help of several key industry sponsors.
We will end this day with an engagement session with our own version of mass collaboration and most important of all we will have a surprise announcement about where next year’s Summit will be held AND end with our traditional champagne toast.
Each year we have engaged a group of bright university students in a challenge of creating a “spa of the future.” This year the Student Challenge includes not only a creative concept but also the parameter that the concept must have a ROI. We then matched students who have a business background with a professional designer to help bring their idea to life.
Over the past few years the Student Challenge has become an important component of the Summit – knowing that focusing on our future leaders is a worthwhile investment of our time and resources. This year the committee consisted of Sue Harmsworth and Mary Tabacchi and we have four outstanding schools from Asia competing. We are also bringing the Student Challenge into the main timing of the Summit instead of scheduling it as a pre-summit activity. It will start each morning at 8:30 am before the actual start of the day at 9:30 am. We encourage you to attend and watch the students present to the judges. We will announce the winner of the challenge on our final day.
This year there are many research presentations and you will find them on the USB you were given when you picked up your delegate binder. Thanks go to the research committee of Anna Bjurstam and Mary Tabacchi.
Each year we bring in a few SPEAKERS from outside our industry to assist us in our dialogue. I want to introduce them to you now so that you will be able to meet them and then engage with them right from the start and not wait until their presentations.
- Kate Ancketil – Managing Director GDR Creative Intelligence – trends from outside our industry to start off
- Dave McCaughan – EVP McCann Worldwide – agencies in world – Japan based – Asian consumers and participate panel on Managing through Crisis … another earthquake in Japan
- Emmanuelle Linard – EXEC Director Edelkoort – UK – Li Edelkoort is someone I looked up to as a young fashion obsessed teen.
- Marc Smith – Chief Social Scientist – Connected Action – back by popular demand – spend time with Marc if you want to understand the benefits of online engagement.
- James Kaplan – SVP FRHI – heads up development in Asia for our company, Fairmont Raffles Hotels – but also was in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and has a great pulse on the money.
- John Hardy – more tomorrow. He of course is co-Founder of the Green School.
- Dr. Kenneth Pelletier – Clinical Professor of Medicine – started the conversation with us last year as well on evidence based medicine.
- Dr. Daniel Friedland – Founder SuperSmart Health – Worked with the team on curating the information for our new portal.
- Ruben Torel – Founder Mede Guide – Medical tourism expert.
- Laszlo Puczko – Managing Director for Xellum (wellum) and will present our cutting edge report on Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism.
- Darlena Zhai – Senior Consultant, Horwath HTL
- Julia Fransisca – Research Analyst, Euromonitor
- Jacqueline Clarke – Research Director Diagonal Reports
Thank you speakers – we are really looking forward to your presentations.
To all of our delegates – we hope that you engage with all of our speakers during the next few days and take advantage of their ideas.
The format for this conference has also been set up according to the theme to allow maximum engagement. Engage as you can see is definitely the rallying call this year. ( I think you might have already figured this out!!)
While the GSS has always been about conversation and dialogue, this year it is amped up. Conversations will happen with or without you so we encourage you to be part of the conversation and we have made it easier for you to do that.
You can expect:
- Longer coffee breaks
- A networking lunch
- Question time in many sessions
- Our successful table topic lunch with some very interesting topics this year
- Increased speaker involvement – coffee breaks will have a designated area for the speakers so you can talk to them directly
- Speakers have also generously devoted their time to be involved as delegates, table topic leaders, and panel members.
- Smaller tables of 6 in our meals and some sessions…insisted upon by Susie so that conversations can happen
- A resource table and a sponsor table to learn more about anything that is new with them
- A convenient Internet café sponsored by SpaEquip
- Research – on a memory stick compiled from a range of companies – not all who could attend.
- Briefing papers – regional trends written by delegates sent in advance
FINALLY ENDING THE SUMMIT WILL BE A WRAP-UP OF THE POWER OF ENGAGEMENT – A mass collaboration session. During this session we will work together to identify some of the greatest opportunities and issues before us that will help us develop a 2012 agenda. I encourage you to make a few notes of the top ideas you have encountered during the next few days and bring them with you to this session.
We did say we also want to have FUN. Remember that fun is now a critical part of the conversation and engagement, so we couldn’t ignore it!! So with that we engaged Jeff Matthews to be Co Chair not just on logistics BUT fun too. You can see what you are in store for after last night’s lovely opening party at the St. Regis. Tonight will be our wonderful and elegant gala dinner evening sponsored by Babor at the Laguna Resort and tomorrow will be a lavish Indonesian Night, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Indonesia where we’ve suggested you wear “white with a splash of color!”
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
Now just before we get on with the agenda there are a few GSS “Rules of Engagement” that we want to share.
- This is a great time to contemplate our businesses and not necessarily time to do business. It’s better if that happens post Summit.
- This is not a trade show, so no sales pitches, no solicitation, no job hunting – we want to encourage dialogue.
- And definitely no promotion of any kind from the stage.
Engage IS the change that is affecting our customers and our business and our industry. This is a great opportunity to engage and learn.
Don Tapscott (renowned technology guru) says “we must collaborate or perish,” Brian Solis takes it one step farther in his book Engage where he suggests that “Engage or Die” might be the best slogan. This is his view of what will happen to businesses that don’t engage. He was specifically talking about engaging with customers.
Jane McGonigal – penned The Engagement Economy article that started this whole theme. She also predicts that this new direction will lead to a “fun revolution” or even the “fun economy” – the fun world of games and gaming will start a whole new revolution.
So let’s all ENGAGE and have FUN.
My twitter address: @susieellis
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