Spa Blog

Industry Topics An Inside Look at ISPA Conference & Expo 2013

Did you miss ISPA this year? The 23rd annual gathering was held last month at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Year after year, the conference proves to be a worthwhile event and a great place to connect with spa professionals from all over the U.S. and beyond. The three day event offers something for everyone; excellent keynote speakers, recognition for industry contributions, a trade show floor, 75-minute breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics, and of course the fun silent auction, which this year raised over $104k dollars for the ISPA Foundation to put towards education and research for our industry.

The first day we were treated to a keynote address from Tom's Shoes' down-to-earth founder, Blake Mycoskie. After receiving the ISPA Humanitarian Award, Mycoskie regaled the audience with the company story; from losing (by 4 minutes) the Amazing Race with his sister, to a chance meeting in an Argentine café, to accidentally finding himself in the shoe business. Five months ago, Tom's gave away their 10 millionth pair of shoes, and the story and photos left many in the audience with sniffles. Mycoskie and One for One are now founding a new initiative, Tom's Eyewear, to bring eyesight to those in need through the sale of sunglasses. Mycoskie's book, Start Something That Matters, tells the whole story and is available on Amazon.

Longtime industry cheerleader, Mary Bemis, received the Dedicated Contributor Award, and the Visionary Award was bestowed upon Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients. Cornell University senior, Kendra Kobler, was awarded the Mary Tabacchi Scholarship. This conference marks the last under the stewardship of Chairman, Ella Stimpson, and welcomed incoming Chairman Michael Tompkins of Miraval, who was seen zipping about the conference on a scooter due to a knee ligament injury which did not slow him down. 

Notable breakouts included Building, Buying and Growing Resort Spas by Chris Manning of Travaasa Experiential Resorts, Five Secrets of a Highly Engaged Spa Team with Eric Stephenson of imassage, and a two-part series on menu development from SpaCare Groups' Melanie Edwards. Also well-attended wasGreg Grisham's session entitled, Protect Your Spa, on the enforcement of non-compete agreements, and the innovative Powerful, Persuasive Public Speaking, where participants were able to practice on the General Session stage with facilitator Peter Kerr of KerrComm. Another worthwhile learning opportunity was created during the second edition this year of the Innovate Sessions; 15 ISPA members who had submitted innovative ideas on something that resulted in a positive impact for their businesses gave 5-10 minute presentations during 3 different sessions, providing for a nice smorgasbord of good concepts on a variety of topics.

The trade show with 220 resource partners seemed lightly trafficked at times, but many vendors still reported making worthwhile contacts. My favorite new discoveries were the Essio Aromatherapy shower pods, and CND's Vinylux polish, which lasted longer than the promised 7 days, and healthy lunches on the show floor add to the good reasons to spend time browsing. As always, it was great to see so many friends and colleagues in the one place where we congregate annually. 

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