Recently I had the opportunity to go to Dubai for SPAMEETING, which is an event that takes place three times a year in different locations. SPAMEETING is two days of business meetings, where buyers and suppliers meet. I managed to conduct 24 meetings in 2 days, all of them with people I never met before. How is it possible? The secret is speed-dating; Each meeting lasts for 20 minutes and everyone tries to make the most of the valuable minutes before the bell rings and you have to move on to the next table. Personally I value face-to-face meetings, especially these days when most things happen on the web. It is amazing how much you can talk about in 20 minutes as long as both parts are well prepared and know what they want to achieve. But of course, to make business happen, the most important is to actually connect again after the event and continue the discussions.
I discovered some very interesting new cosmetic brands. A few of them really share Raison d’Etre’s passion and dedication for 100% natural and organic products. Right now I have the benefit to test and explore some of the products. (I must admit, it is one part of my job that is very enjoyable). I also had interesting meetings with linen and towel producers, equipment suppliers and innovative new concepts, such as Aquaroll. I will share more about this exciting tool in the next coming days…
The SPAMEETING in Dubai focused on the Middle East area and spa projects where coming from all around the GCC, North Africa and South East Asia. As Raison d’Etre is having several projects in the Middle East region it was very valuable to meet, not only suppliers and distributors in this area, but also meeting Spa Directors working in the area.
I was very happy about the location for the SPAMEETING; Dubai, as I had not been there before. The destination is not new to Raison d’Etre, as we created and opened the spa at Atlantis about 3 years ago. Of course I paid a visit to the beautiful spa at Atlantis and I had the pleasure of meeting staff that was trained by Raison d’Etre for the opening and were still working in the spa!
Dubai is a very unique destination; it is filled with dynamic business centers, skyscrapers, all the shopping you could ever wish for, spas to die for and amazing hotels. As you probably know the world’s only seven star hotel is located here.
The SPAMEETING event took place in Park Hyatt, next to Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. The resort was beautiful, with lush gardens (must have been one of the greenest spaces in Dubai) and from my terrace I had a view over the yacht club and the impressive Burj Kalifa tower (one of Dubai’s master pieces; 828 meters with 160 stories) in the background.
During the SPAMEETING we had the opportunity to listen to Daniella Russel, from Spa and Wellness solutions in Dubai. Daniella had an interesting speech about the Spa market in Dubai and the changes that has occurred there during the last years. Just a few years ago everything was booming in Dubai, it was all very vibrant and fast growing, spas opened rapidly. Now many spa projects are on hold due to the recession, everyone is more cost conscious, budgets are more restricted and the number of staff in spas are reduced. Daniella also talked about the challenges about staffing in Dubai, only 20% of the population is originally from Dubai, so it is a very international mix among the spa staff, many therapists comes from Asia. So there are many language- and cultural barriers to overcome, and there are challenges with work permits. When it comes to training, the actual product and opening training can take much longer time than in Europe and spas need to estimate for this. When it comes to cosmetic products in the Middle East, spas must be aware of that imported products needs to have a license and be registered for each country. The registration process can be long, sometimes up to 18 months, so be aware if you plan to launch a new brand in your spa and ensure that all registrations are set. It was interesting to hear Daniella’s reflections as it goes very much hand in hand with our experience from working in many of the countries in the Middle East.
All in all, it was a great event, some intense, but productive and fun days, with lot’s of inspiration and new business opportunities.
I will end this report with sharing one of the most memorable moments from Dubai – meeting Lisa in the deep waters…