Slideshow: 2012 ISPA Conference & Expo

Universal Companies' booth

After the morning’s presentations, the doors opened to the Expo Floor, and attendees began making their way down the aisles to check out the latest and greatest in spa products, equipment and services. A delicious, healthy lunch was served at the back of the expo floor, maximizing available time for visiting with vendors. In the afternoon, the first set of Professional Development Breakout Sessions launched. Here's a summarized rundown:

Jan Freitag, Sr. V.P. of Smith Travel Research (STR), but perhaps better known as the “data guy,” presented the latest findings from STR on the state of the luxury hotel spa market. The news on hotel numbers is good; in fact, July 2012 saw the greatest ever demand for hotel rooms across the board. Demand is forecast to slow to a 2% increase, but not to dip. Demand for hotels continues to inch upward, but is still behind where it would have been had 2007 numbers continued their pre-recession annual climbs. On the spa side, however, the going is still a bit tough. Average treatment rates are still below their peak in 2007, and treatment room utilization is fairly flat.

Strategic coach Tanya Chernova delivered some sound management advice; namely, insights on dealing with the young worker of today. These people, Chernova said, are living at home longer, and receive “toys” (such as nice cars) much sooner. Because this segment may feel secure, losing one's job is not a scary idea, which can make them more difficult to manage. Chernova also discussed those filters in the human brain that flavor our belief systems, relating this to the struggle that amiable spa technicians have in selling products, who fear clients may say “no,” or that they “can’t afford them.”

Visibility Coach David Avrin offered some humorous tips for creating an effective spa business marketing strategy, while avoiding the plague of “blah blah blah.” So many marketing messages, Avrin asserted, sound the same (“Our people make the difference,” etc.). So he advised those present to ask themselves to consider what they could rightfully claim. Among his suggestions:

• Creating a "top 10" list of persuasive highlights of your company or products
• Avoiding clever taglines—"Make them conversational," Avrin advised.
• Considering the following focal points:
—Sole claims – "first", "only", "regional"
—Action verbs – "created", "pioneered"
—Supremacy – "first", "fastest", "oldest", "largest"
—Honors – named “spa of the year”
—Media appearances – highlight editorial mentions
—Key clients – famous people and companies

Avrin advised examining all of your marketing claims, and asking yourself,
• What does that mean?
• Why do I care?

Make sure the answers are obvious, and you’re on your way to successful marketing!