It’s been a few weeks since I attended the ISPA (International Spa Association) conference in Las Vegas. I have had some time to reflect on the days I spent there, visiting the expo exhibits, attending sessions, and catching up with many industry colleagues (which is the best part). I always learn things at ISPA and this year was no exception. But as I reflect on the various insights garnered, the most important conclusion is that our industry is really quite resilient.
There is no doubt that economic turbulence was on everyone’s mind. ISPA did a good job in trying to address some of these concerns through their keynote speakers and general sessions. What impressed me the most, however, was how robust the conference was in terms of the number of exhibitors and attendees. It is true that they didn’t report any all-time records, however, they got pretty darn close – and that to me is the real story.
When so many other industries are declining by 20 percent, 30 percent, and even 40 percent, workers are being laid off around the country, and we hear of large businesses shutting down altogether, it is pretty encouraging to see how buoyant the spa industry has been. The recent surveys that we have done at SpaFinder support the same conclusion – there have been shifts, however many spas are still doing good business.
I remember back to 9/11 when the country was “stunned” and travel and spa-ing were affected along with everything else. A few months later we published an issue of Luxury SpaFinder magazine with the cover line, “Spas for Challenging Times.” It was one of our best selling issues ever! Although 9/11 did affect revenues for many businesses, looking back, spas recovered quite quickly.
As I reflect on why our industry has such resiliency, I can’t help but think about one fundamental change that has taken place. Spas have as much to do with “wellness” as they do with “pampering.” Since we know that the number one reason people go to spas is “to relax and de-stress” (stress is at the root of almost 70 percent of doctor visits), it should come as no surprise that in these stressful times we are truly the very thing people need – and seek.
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