Cosmoprof Asia Spa Conference 2016 Wrap Up

Highlighting trends in spa, wellness, nutrition and fitness, social turning points that are pushing the industry and challenges that are holding it back, this year’s industry leaders provided a fact, figures and networking packed day.

Cosmoprof Asia 2016’s Spa Conference was opened by the director of Cosmoprof Asia, Michael Duck. “You may be suitably exhausted from going through the halls and doing battle with the buyers,” he said with a smile, “but here you will find some respite and reflection, and guidance in how to go forward with your businesses. We have 13 high calibre spa and wellness leaders bringing their rich expertise to today’s event. Take this great opportunity to learn from them!”

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Michael Duck, Director of Cosmoprof Asia

First the stats: global wellness tourism is worth a cool US$563, as of 2015 according to the Global Wellness Institute. Lisa Starr, Senior Consultant at Wynne Business, added that the stats on beauty and anti-ageing are US$999 billion, healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss US$648 billion, fitness and mind-body US$542 billion. “There is a growing middle class of people understand they are responsible for their own health,” she said, pointing out a tipping point that has been a long time coming.

Andrew Gibson, Vice President Well-Being, Luxury Brands, Accor Hotels kicked off proceedings by clicking through the top 10 trends for 2016 as announced by Spa Finder at the beginning of this year. The ones with which he agreed included adrenalin and Zen cocktail in fitness, healthy cruising, workplace wellness and the dichotomy of rising obesity and diabetes and extreme health and fitness.

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Andrew Gibson, Vice President Well-Being, Luxury Brands, Accor Hotels

He highlighted his hotels’ guests are demanding more wellness, while wanting results-driven and express beauty, and fitness in hotel gyms is undergoing a revolution. However, his most pressing point was to remind us how vital the financial aspect is, saying hotel spas are more in competition with their own hotel’s F&B department than nearby competing spas.

Interestingly he also emphasized, “Wellness is no longer a space in the hotel, it is the hotel, full stop!” And illustrating this is his pioneer Vitality Suite in the Swissotel Zurich.

Neil Jacobs, CEO Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, also discussed how wellness needs to move centre stage into the DNA of all hotels, and he said this must come from the top. “At Six Senses we believe wellness is the right thing to do from a human perspective. We also believe it’s commercially the right thing to do. It’s not just about the revenue, it is what it does to the brand, the image, the revpar, length of stay and occupancy. And it is our ability as an industry to foster that culture of wellness within hotels.”

He talked about another tipping point that has been slow to arrive, about how important it is to include an environmental focus for today’s guests. And interestingly he added how significant this was for today’s hotel staff. “To have a well articulated sustainability and wellness agenda will help us as an industry attract talent.”

Talent was mentioned numerous times, especially during the panel on successful spa expansion. Todd Hewitt, Corporate Director of Spa, Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd expressed how difficult it was to find staff, and how difficult to retain them. Helene Goetzelmann, International Spa Director, L’Occitane Hong Kong said she found the key for retaining staff is training, even if it is difficult to factor into busy schedules.

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Panel on successful spa extension

Melinda Yon, MC, Senior Lecturer at School of Hospitality Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, reminded us some labour issues still stem from the stigma attached to spa, an issue that has long tarnished the industry. Kathryn Moore, Managing Director Spa Connectors, reiterated the proposal she floated at the Global Wellness Summit in Austria earlier in the year, to have a global road show of industry leaders with clear career paths motivating the next generation to join the industry.

Technology may help with staffing in the future, and is already revolutionizing the industry in other ways too. According to Ronald Jean, Director of International Business Development, Pevonia International, advanced science is constantly helping us better understand the skin, unlock the mysteries of nature and manufacture results-driving equipment, all of which are playing out through beneficial skincare full of natural actives and increasing amounts of machinery in spa treatment rooms.

Lisa Starr’s presentation shared a number of the strongest trends in the US. Wearable technology was one of them, worth US$14 billion this year, forecasting 34 billion by 2020. Nutricosmetics was another, beauty drinks and supplements making up for lack of regular nutrition. She also mentioned the Wellness for Cancer movement spearheaded by Julie Bach and the growth of wellness coaching. She added spas are getting more niche, offering treatments for people will specific issues, like cancer survivors, pregnant women or those wanting to spa with their families. On the other hand social spa’ing is gaining momentum, especially with social media-addicted Millennials.

Experts pondered how to interest Millennials, especially those in Asia, in joining the industry’s workforce. With a panel dedicated to the subject, workplace wellness was one of the subjects of the day. Panellists agreed that a happy workforce makes for happy guests and an even happier hotelier when looking at the bottom line… Taking us back to Gibson’s emphasis on how important it is for spas to make money, and to Jacobs’ plea for industry experts to show owners and stakeholders just how focusing on the wellness, of guests, staff, communities and the planet, can help hotels do exactly that.

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