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SPATEC Europe 2012 paints healthy picture

While most of Europe is mired in an atmosphere of economic uncertainty and doubt, delegates left the SPATEC Europe Conference in a spirit of optimism and hope

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This networking forum for representatives of the spa industry, held in the upmarket Spanish resort of Marbella in April, was attended by 63 industry suppliers and 49 spa operators. The representatives from fields as diverse as aromatherapy to towel providers gathered for the two day event, which saw over 800 meetings being held by delegates from across the spa orientated health and beauty world. The bulk of the delegates came from the UK, but visitors from Australia and Hong Kong also attended.

Talking about the success of SPATEC Europe, event organiser Stephen Pace-Bonello said, “Spa operators are seeking new revenue-generating and cost saving products and services while striving to maintain their standards. Meanwhile, suppliers are coming up with new ways to promote their products and services.” In January 2012, Director Magazine, published figures from an SRI report revealing that the global spa industry is worth £39bn and that in the UK, more than 35 million spend around £5.2bn on services and products. The report valued the worldwide wellness industry at £1.2trn.

One of the major conclusions to come from the forum was the importance of the youth market. Both young men and women have spent a lifetime growing up with marketing messages targeted at the ‘body beautiful’ and there is huge potential among this group for the development and sales of anti-ageing products. Another area that should focus on positive growth is the value of using older spa therapists and beauticians; the forum agreed that with the changing global demographic and the increased spending power of the mature consumer, more spas should invest in experience as well as youth.

Investment in employees was a continuing theme throughout the forum’s discussions. Sandra Sadowski from US based, Ritz Carlton Spa, New York, said, “we’re looking at what’s the most invasive treatment that spas can do that’s safe.” One way to move these procedures into the spa and therapy arena is to promote staff training and excellence. The forum felt that an important aspect of these types of therapies is that clients can see the effects of their treatments immediately.

Another area for growth is the rise in more specialised treatments. Speaking to ‘The Director Magazine,’ Vim Patel of London’s Hydrohealing Spa said that his spa is concentrating on providing a ‘therapeutic service.’ SPATEC 2012 confirmed that the industry is poised to take advantage of these changes in perception and many leading spas now deliver a more focused approach. Rockliffe Hall director, Liz Holmes agrees, commenting, “we’ve begun to separate areas of specialisation for therapists to allow their confidence and expertise to develop (this allowed one therapist) to create a protocol for guests affected by cancer and life limiting conditions.”

SPATEC 2012 ended on a high note, with Stephen Pace-Bonello announcing, “there is a general feeling of optimism in the industry”, though he went on to caution that this must be accompanied by greater creativity and innovation.

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