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Takeaways From a Recent Conference

A conference is full of takeaways. I apologize for the late release of this newsletter but after attending and teaching at the Day Spa/International Medical Spa Association's first ever Pro Knowledge Workshop, I had few days to reflect on what I had experienced.

Congratulations to Allan Share and Eric Light for their vision and willingness to launch a new conference in the crowded market of spa and beauty events. If the early reactions are any indication, we nailed it! How great it was to have a conference (not a trade show) that provided phenomenal and varied education (and CE credits), timely product and equipment information and amazing networking. By bringing in physicians, industry business educators, and vendors, a forum was established that allowed meaningful discussion and learning. Attendees enjoyed spirited classes and panels which addressed the direction of our industry, business management, marketing, massage, and aesthetic techniques. Since meals and receptions were provided, networking naturally occurred between attendees, educators, and vendors. The DSA sought the leading spa directors and operators in the region, and they were involved with the networking with spa operators and therapists. It appeared that everyone left inspired and motivated to take fresh ideas back to their businesses and move them forward.

So what were the takeaways?

1. As an industry, we're in recovery mode. Business isn't as strong as it was pre-2006, but things appear to be getting better.

2. It is not possible to stay in business if we do not continue to increase our revenue and profitability. We must be careful in doing so in that our clientele is much more cost conscious and spa loyalty is being challenged by the likes of Groupon and Living Social mass couponing. We must be mindful that our clients and prospective clients love our services and facilities; however, they are struggling through challenging economic times and are cautious with how they are spending their money. Nonetheless, we are still the sanctuary that they seek as they escape from their stress-filled lives. They still want their sanctuary, but they are not willing to pay full retail price.

3. Dr. Tamyra Comeaux (an OB-Gyn, ND with a degree in Chinese Medicine) spoke about Bio-hormone replacement therapy and taught us that many pharmaceuticals are plant based. In Europe and Asia, they can be purchased in their natural organic form. She also taught us that 25% of the annual budget of the FDA is funded by the pharmaceutical companies. Hmmm . . .

4. Dr. Lauren Olsen showed us how she is providing hand and foot rituals to provide a high level of hospitality for the families waiting for her clients as they have services done in her medical spa.

5. Did you know that Primary Medicine is disappearing from our list of medical options? For the fifth consecutive year, the Massachusetts Medical Association has reported a decreasing amount of family practices and internists? The Primary Practices (family doctors) of medicine are areas considered underserved in many areas of the country. This is due primarily to the reduced Medicare coverage and decreasing amounts that insurance companies are willing to pay.

6. Of the billions of dollars spent every year for pharmaceutical drugs, the majority of dollars are paid for drugs that are used for the treatment of preventable diseases and chronic conditions such as diabetes (weight loss), cardiology (stress), and mental health. Do we think that our industry of health, wellness, fitness, and spa could be major players in helping our clientele live a healthier lifestyle, avoid the need for some of these drugs, and lower the cost of health care?

7. You've heard us talk about Wellness Villages, where we work with physicians, wellness practitioners, and spas to join forces, acquire a building and manage and market a Wellness Village™. This business model allows several businesses and practices to operate independently with a unified front. One administration, one reception, one back office, one retail area and one lab supported by several treatment rooms. The tenants own the building and benefit by the synergy and co-marketing and referral efforts of their neighbors who happen to be complementary and integrative health practices and spas and wellness/fitness facilities. Neat concept right? This not only supports the concierge (membership) medical practice, it also helps the spa become a preventive/integrative healthcare service provider versus a pampering/luxury service. Synergistic, cost effective, and real estate ownership. Sounds like a way to lower health care costs to me. This concept was echoed by my colleague and fellow panelist Alfredo Carvajal of Universal Companies and the Global Spa Summit as he introduced the concept of "wellness clusters" in Nashville.

8. We're thinking in similar directions with common vision. The fusion of medicine and spa is happening via Integrative Medicine. It's happening now and we as an industry have the opportunity to be a big component of it. The trends are heading in that direction and we need to move with it.

9. Our clients want results, affordable services and they don't necessarily want it during bankers' hours. We're seeing more and more efficient and quick services provided at all times including late night or early morning. This changes the way we've been thinking for the past few years.

10. Pampering and mindful healing isn't dead. This and hospitality needs to find a way to play nicely together and find their way into medical practices. We don't need any more surly, indifferent medical practices. We need our medical practices to be more inviting and warm. They need to look (and feel) more like spas and spas need to look and feel more like medical practices. The fusion promises to be interesting. The bigger guys are already doing it. Take a look at the Cleveland Clinic and California Health & Longevity for ideas.

11. Yes the first baby boomers have hit age 65, but our fastest growing market is between the ages of 25-35. The first wave of the baby boomers is probably better prepared financially for retirement than the younger baby boomers. This will affect the age they retire and the amount of money they are able to spend on discretionary items. The 25-35 year old clientele has a job but wants fast service when they want it. Results, convenience, and cost. Hopefully the loyalty will follow.

These ideas and others will continue to develop at futureProKnowledge Workshops. Hopefully, we'll see you in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, or Portland.

As always, if you want to discuss your business, the first call is always free.


Call 888.727.5489 or e-mail us at Monte@WellnessCapital.com.

Pro Knowledge Workshops from the Day Spa and International Medical Spa Association

I'll be presenting "Budget Intensive – An Advanced Business Planning Workshop", "Good Debt, Bad Debt. Know the Difference" and "Using Consumer Data to Deliver What Your Clients Want NOW!".

I am also honored to be seated on a panel discussion called "The Fusion of Well Being: What the Future Holds" with my colleagues Dr. Tamyra Comeaux and Alfredo Carvajal.

To learn more about the Pro Knowledge Workshops, visit www.ProKnowledgeWorkshops.com. I hope to see you in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, or Portland!