Global Spa Summit declared a sell-out success
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Global Spa Summit declared a sell-out success

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A record 275 delegates from 35-plus countries gathered for the fifth annual Global Spa Summit (GSS), held in Bali, Indonesia on 15-18 May, making the event a sell out success.

Susie Ellis, board member of the GSS says: "Highlights for me included seeing 275 like-minded people gather together to establish and renew relationships that end up leading to improvements in our industry.

"The value of this collaboration is greater than I might have imagined when the GSS began five years ago."

The theme of this year's top spa executive conference was 'Engage the Change: The Customer. The Money. The Future' and over the three days delegates explored fresh ways of capturing consumers, new business models, investment opportunities, valuable industry research and tourism and wellness concepts.

Because of the location, there was a strong contingent from across Asia (39 per cent) - which is the fastest-growing spa, hotel and tourism market in the world - and Mandarin translations were provided.

Conversations focusing on entry strategies into China, its business and people, culture, opportunities for development and pitfalls to avoid dominated general and breakout sessions. Dave McCaughan, executive vice-president at marketing firm McCann Worldgroup, Asia-Pacific, and James Kaplan, senior vice-president at Fairmont Raffles, both executed insightful talks on the country; while Tony Cheung, managing director of PA Wellness Consultancy, chaired a panel of Chinese spa delegates who gave an insider's view on running spa businesses in China.

Another key highlight included the inspirational presentation by retail trend forecaster Kate Ancketill, managing director for GDR Creative Intelligence. Ancketill outlined how brands have used technology - mobile apps, iPads, social network sites and gaming - innovatively to increase their market share and the growing possibilities for spas to get in on the act. Her top recommendation for spa operators was "to get your services on video".

As ever, new industry research grabbed the attention of many delegates. The anti-ageing and wellbeing US market grew from US$1.3bn (€917m, £800m) in 2006 to US$2.8bn (€2bn, £1.7bn) in 2010, according to Euromonitor Singapore research analyst Yulia Fransisca who detailed new customers and trends for operators to watch out for.

Darlena Zhai, consultant at Horwath Asia-Pacific, who presented performance figures for the Asia hotel sector disclosed that in 2010 urban hotel spas in Bangkok and Shanghai had the highest annual revenue per treatment room, while Phuket and Koh Samui were the winning destinations for resort spas.

An in-depth, GSS commissioned report - Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism: Where Do Spas Fit? - outlined ways for the spa industry to take advantage of opportunities in the wellness and medical tourism sectors.

Overall, the atmosphere at the summit was positive and energetic. A live poll revealed that 78.2 per cent of the delegates expect their gross revenue in 2011 will be 'significantly greater' or 'somewhat greater' than in 2010.

The last day saw the unveiling of spaevidence.com - a portal which pulls together research on the efficacy of 22 spa therapies (to read more on spaevidence.com, click here for news story).

The event ended with two announcements. Firstly, that the 2012 GSS will be held on 4-6 June in Aspen, Colorado, US, in conjunction with The Aspen Institute, a global think tank that has attracted leaders such as Nelson Mandela and entrepreneurs such as Sir Richard Branson.

Secondly, that Philippe Bourguignon has been appointed to the GSS board of directors. Bourguignon is the vice-chairman of Steve Case's Revolutions Places, CEO of Miraval and previously served as the co-CEO of the World Economic Forum for two years running.

Bourguignon, together with fellow GSS board member Richard Dusseau, founder of Spa Strategy, will also act as the GSS co-chairs for 2012. Ellis concludes: "We are thrilled to be planning our next summit along with the prestigious Aspen Institute... it will be an outstanding event that will take us to yet another level of accomplishments and influence."

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A record 275 delegates from 35-plus countries gathered for the fifth annual Global Spa Summit (GSS), held in Bali, Indonesia on 15-18 May, making the event a "sell out success".
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