Industry associations need to create standards, while
spa companies need to develop training programmes.
In May 2011, spa leaders from around the world met for the 5th annual Global Spa Summit in Bali, Indonesia. The three-day gathering always produces a wealth of stimulating conversation and debate.
The theme this year was 'Engage the Change,' and what choice do we have, really?
As the world becomes more connected and borders and boundaries shrink, we really do need to familiarise ourselves with business practices from other regions.
This has great implications, especially for the spa industry, as it creates the opportunity to combine best practices from other sectors and geographies to create a strong global business infrastructure.
During the conference, the audience participated in some live polls, and three of the questions really popped out to me - what is the greatest challenge facing the industry today; which segments of our industry will see the greatest growth; and who should determine industry standards and best practices?
In answer to the first, 28 per cent of the audience said training and education was the greatest challenge, by far the largest segment. In answer to the second question, 46 per cent of the group answered preventive medicine, and 19 per cent said alternative medical therapies. For the third question, the overwhelming response at 75 per cent was professional industry associations, as opposed to governments.
Combining these three points really gives us a roadmap to the immediate future, especially regarding the development of our most valuable asset, our therapy staffs.
Professional industry associations need to create standards, spa companies need to continue to develop ongoing training programs, and special attention needs to be paid to incorporating alternative and wellness therapies.
I don't mean to imply that spas should be able to train or certify our personnel in medical procedures. But we do need to keep abreast of the current trends in alternative therapies, and pay attention to how they can be interwoven into the spa experience.
If spa clients are seeking treatments for sleep deprivation, then spa therapists could benefit from a deeper understanding of relaxation techniques to use during massage and skincare services.
Guests interested in detoxification may seek out the latest in lymph drainage or seaweed and mud wraps to complement services or counseling they are receiving from medical professionals.
At GSS, an excellent tool to support this endeavor was revealed. For the last year, a small group of M.D.'s and Ph.D's have been working on a web portal to support the need for evidence- based medical results for both citizens and spa and medical professionals, and it was unveiled at the conference.
Visit the website, www.spaevidence.com, and you will be presented with snapshot photos emblematic of 22 different therapies such as acupuncture, ear candling, thalassotherapy, and yoga.
You will also discover a wealth of information about that therapy along with an array of research results. The savvy spa therapist will definitely invest some time in going through this site and becoming familiar with the basics on these therapies and their efficacy.
It will likely lead to ideas about how to update current service protocols to reflect the wellness component of a spa visit.
Therapists who are up-to-date on the facts and can present management with a business case for related training programs will be highly valued in this new world of wellness.