Wrap-Up thoughts from the recent 2012 Global Spa and Wellness Summit – Aspen, Colorado
In many ways, this 2012 Global Spa and Wellness Summit – our 6th – was the most important one to date.
I think there are several reasons for this:
- The entire event reached a higher level of conversation because of the inclusion of discussions regarding larger global and geopolitical issues from speakers such as Philippe Bourguignon and Former President Jose Maria Figueres-Olsen
- The theme, Innovation through Imagination, was spot on as the most important focus for the industry at this point
- Speakers from outside of our industry introduced us to new ways of thinking and challenged us to be more creative
- We came away not only having gotten new ideas for our industry and our businesses, but having learned how to come up with fresh, innovative ideas for the future. (It reminds me of the quote “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”)
Some of the terms that I feel represent what resonated most specifically for our industry include: Brain Science, Prevention, Happiness, Neurovation, Healthy Hotels, Workplace Wellness, Telomeres, Wellness Coaching, Gadgets and Gaming, Will-Power, Public/Private Partnerships, Alliances, Kids, Technology, Industry Philanthropy, Mental Wellness, Healthy town of the Future, “There is no Planet B,” Mindfulness, Defiant!, Spa Management Education Gaps, and Purpose-driven Spas.
Some concepts I found of note regarding Innovation and Imagination include: Stress reduces creativity, practice innovation, integrate discontinuities, experience jazz and improvisation, imagination and discipline, collaboration, complexity, creating a climate for creativity, imagination as a subset of creativity, innovation and purpose, wicked problems, modulation, intuition, tension between structure and freedom, roll with mistakes, beginner’s mind, connected yet in isolation, mine ideas, reward ideas, fail quickly, quiet the mind, incubate creativity, stress is a continent, guided imagination, play.
A surprise discovery: While the above take-aways are exciting and exceedingly valuable, there was one finding that I would have to say was totally unexpected. While this year’s Summit theme, Innovation through Imagination was to help us as an industry learn to become more innovative and thus lead our industry to new heights, I learned that one of the key factors in sparking imagination, creativity and ultimately innovation is a state of reduced stress – the very thing our industry does best. Is it possible that we not only have learned to spark innovation through imagination as a result of this year’s Summit, but that we have also learned that our very industry is positioned to be one of the best contributors to an environment that allows innovation to happen for all? It has led me to question whether this oft quoted line may not apply after-all, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” I feel it warrants some thought and further discussion within our industry on how we might be able to educate others, incorporate and take advantage of this unique and important contribution as the world focuses on innovation as a key driver for the future.
Partnerships, Collaboration, Initiatives and Friendships: The Summit’s purpose is summarized by the tag line, “Joining Together. Shaping the Future.” it is always heartwarming to me to learn of the various relationships that spring forth as a result of the Summit. Already there are several initiatives underway; efforts to benchmark industry numbers via cooperation with technology companies; a group getting together for the purpose of legitimizing wellness; and an ongoing group discussion regarding spa education curriculum development and improving industry/education connections.
There are also many liaisons that happen between delegates who end up doing business with each other (many we don’t hear about until the following year) and myriad of friendships that result in people staying in touch, visiting each other all over the globe and often collaborating in ways that do in fact shape the future of our industry – and the world.
Spa 2.0: Philippe Bourguignon, who headed up the agenda committee that curated this Summit’s speakers and presentations, summed up his thoughts in the following way:
“ There were two things that really struck me at our GSWS at the Aspen Institute:
- There was so much talent assembled over 3 days: spa and wellness entrepreneurs, architects and designers, equipment providers, cosmetics and skincare … but also entrepreneurs, developers, politicians, all representing 40 nationalities. So many different cultures and origins, talent and skills
- Those who were not from the industry and did not know about us were stunned by the size, the complexity and the potential of the industry. But also how limiting the world “spa” was.
I took a lot of ideas back home in this respect, and I think a lot of attendees did the same! Maybe next time we should share and discuss how to reinvent our industry: It is probably time for “Spa 2.0”!”
And then….I am also quite excited about an imaginative idea that was sparked for me at this Summit – how to create a Virtual Version of this (and future) Global Spa and Wellness Summits that we can make available to the entire industry – and beyond. Stay tuned.