ITB Wellness forum 2013

annikaA few words from Annika Jackon about ITB Wellness forum

A big thank you to Michael Altewischer with Wellness Hotels & Resorts who with his team did am amazing job setting up this venue as a great extension to the very big ITB Berlin Convention, where the who is who in travel all were this past week.

What great fun and how inspiring it was to spend a few days with esteemed colleagues and having the opportunity to network, while hopefully contributing our own unique experience from Raison d’Etre.

While I personally presented on the subject of; General Criteria for Spa and Wellness Hotels – Essentials and operating requirements for planning spa areas and the differences between Europe, Asia & the USA.

It was also fantastic to have the opportunity to listen to the other speakers such as Dagmar Rizzato with Rizzato Spa Consulting, presenting very useful benchmarks for the spa industry together with Kohl & Partner.

I also found Dr. Franz Linser’s presentation very fun and inspiring and gave us all something to think about when it comes to multitasking and stress, what great energy!

Susie Ellis, President, Spa Finder Wellness Inc., CEO, Global Spa and Wellness Summit, was there to present the overview of the latest findings from SRI International and a glimpse into some of the most important future spa and wellness trends. (Picture: Susie Ellis presentening spa trends)Susie Ellis

The day concluded with Antonino Minneci, Marketing Consultant with Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung, GfK presentation of Findings, information and insights into the latest developments and guests’ expectations in 2013.

Wellness as a lifestyle and marketplace is expanding with no sign of slowing down.

We all gained valuable insights into the differences by region, conceptually, facility wise and operationally.

A few excerpts in regards to the Market places of Europe, Asia and the US:

Some examples of spas, that was discussed, having shown to be examples of great sustainable concepts and that have gained great reputations. However, that is not necessarily the same as turning a profit for its owners or investors. More often than one would think, spa’s that are well known and/ or receive great press and accolades are not necessarily profitable. Especially challenging is the Destination Spa Concept.

Operating a spa has different advantages in different regions when it comes to for example staffing. A challenge in some regions may be the significant labor laws and high staffing costs, long vacations etc. While in other areas it is difficult to operate with local staff and maintain a high service level and quality of treatments.

In order for a spa to be successful in any of the three regions, the spa has to prove why the guest should come to the spa. Or why a guest should pay more to go to your spa compared to the spa or resort down the road. Typically across the board we can see that menus not tailored to the target guests, too long menus and to sterile design are three great ways to fail.

No matter how much we all would like to think we are all in this to bring health, wellbeing and balance to the people in the world, (which we certainly are) it all does in the end come down to one thing: Is the Spa and Wellness center sustainable? I.E what is the bottom line for the owner’s and investors? Can it continue to prosper year after year?

This is where we come in: Overhead is important to consider. Have a smart layout before the facility has been built, design for optimal flow with the minimum for overhead, such as guest service staff.

In conclusions: You cannot cook European, Asian or American food with the same ingredients, for spas the facilities you build, will have similar features, however, they will differ in myriads of ways. Tailor your spa and wellness center to the people you serve.

The most important factor to take into consideration is not WHERE your spa is located but WHO will come.

Understanding your target market, communicating to them through a clear concept, will ultimately decide your design.

More information:

// Annika  Jackson



The ISPA Research and trend session

I was honored to be invited to speak at the general session at ISPA this year, and going around speaking at several events every year, I was truly impressed with their professionalism. Back stage there were make up artists (thank God!), coffee, great technicians that helped with my lost font on my presentation making it look like my 6-year old had made it.

Being a founding board member of the Global Spa & Wellness summit, myself and Mary Tabacchi (professor at Cornell) are responsible for collecting and tailoring the research each year and this was a summary with my analysis.

When it comes to fitness, I only need to say two words 

  1. Personal Training
  2. Functional fitness

And if you are not onto that yet, you need to get on the bandwagon fast.

Health and Wellness packaged food and beverage, there are two new words

  1. Nutroceuticals – which is food and beverage with a purpose, for example “White tea for radiant skin”
  2. Comseceuticals – is a suppment you take for stronger hair, brighter skin etc.

Health & Wellness package food is a USD 680 billion market, 10 times the spa industry and we have a huge opportunity to tap into this market. I found a couple of interesting companies trying to convince the spa market on the Expo, namely Forte Tea and FOHAÅFOH

When it comes to beauty, we find that women are starting to change beauty products more often depending on how well the skin care companies communicate benefits and if it also talks about anti-aging and organic, we are more likely to buy the product.

70% of women believe that beauty = happiness. Hey guys, we are not that complicated, make a woman feel beautiful and we are happy. Simple as that.

Now to the crown jewel. Every year the amazing Susie Ellis releases her top 10 trends for the coming years. The minute they are released they are broadcasted on television, blogs, twitter, magazines and news paper. It is an explosion of Susie’s trends world wide who everyone is talking about. I am not sure if she is spotting a trend or actually creating it, but the truth is that they are very much a reality 12 months later.

Working closely with Susie for the past 7 years on the GSWS board, I asked her if she didn’t want to give me a sneak preview of one of the trends to present – and she did! The trend that she predicts, and I wholeheartedly agree with from our own research, is that the traveler wants WELLNESS when staying at a hotel. Experience is great, but closer to their heart is sleeping really well, eating well, being able to enjoy great fitness offerings to stay fit and simply being well and there are several initiatives that are showing that hotels are catching on. One example is Even hotels Check it out!

A little snippet from ISPA, you will probably hear more the coming weeks, a great event and fantastic people and a whole of sharing.


ISPA conference update!

I am just on my way back from the ISPA conference in Kissemmee/Orlando Florida. Orlando. Once my home for a year (1987) when I was there on a basketball scholarship, and it brought fond memories back and I regretted only staying for 2 nights. The spa event was super professional, great organization, and although it is in essence a US centric event, it has attendees from over 40 countries.

It is set up in a way that there are general sessions for 1.5 hours in the morning, then the expo opens and one can chose to walk the expo or attend the many valuable breakout sessions or why not book a facial at the small mini-spas set up. There is lots of time for network and in the evenings there are myriads of parties and gatherings to join. Some for all, and some by invitation.

What ISPA is really about is networking and I did my fair share of that. After arriving at 6.30pm (00.30 my time in Sweden) I went straight into dinner with some dear friends, Anne McCall from Fairmont, Polly Johnson from SpaEquip and Elaine Fernard from SpaStrategy, who had Moet waiting and we had a great dinner. I was invited to a party at Universal Studios, but after the dinner bed was calling….

Susie Ellis, Deborah Szekely  and Nicki Bryan

Susie Ellis, Deborah Szekely and Nicki Bryan

As we are on the dinner theme, the following night I was invited to the late “Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award dinner”. Alex was taken from us way too early by cancer, and the dinner hosted by his mother Deborah Szekely, 90 years, founder of Rancho la Puerta (a fantastic destination spa), Susie Ellis from Spa Finder and Mary Elisabeth Gilford from Washington Spa Alliances. This was a moving event which showcased the passion and love that is all around us and why we all love working in this industry. People shared fond memories of Alex and experience and great conversations were held. Poker, spa management workforce gaps, the US election debate, the future vision of the spa industry and how we have to evolve in the coming years wear dealt with and I was honored to be part of that. I even sat next to a married couple, who actually met 7 years ago at the same dinner event!

In the next blog post I will tell you a bit what I found walking the expo – some very interesting stuff and also a bit about today’s speech I held at the general session, before whisking off to the airport and back to good old Stockholm.