Industry leaders gather in London for the World Spa & Wellness Convention

The 2017 World Spa & Wellness Convention wrapped up in London on Monday, February 27, drawing more than 300 senior industry delegates, speakers and chairs from around the world.

The convention, previously known as the Professional Spa & Wellness Convention, took place at the ExCeL London exhibition centre on Sunday, February 26 and Monday, February 27, as part of the Professional Beauty trade show.

Topics on the varied two-day agenda covered areas of high relevance to the global spa and wellness sector, including stress management, fitness, staff retention and team empowerment.

The senior industry chairs and speakers from around the world who spoke at the convention included Patrick Huey; corporate director of spa, fitness and tennis at Sandals Resorts, who chaired the Manage the Stress of your Guests and your Team panel on the Sunday morning. Speakers on this panel included Tracey Woodward, chief executive of Aromatherapy Associates. 

Among other speakers on the Sunday were Andrew Gibson, vice president of wellbeing at Accor Hotels Luxury Brands division; Justin Musgrove, chief executive of The Bannatyne Group; and Patrick Lemaigre, general manager and group customer experience director of Aspria – who all spoke as part of the Manage and Boost your Fitness Operations session.

Gibson highlighted the importance of engaging clients with interesting and innovative activities and features in gyms, and said today's gym-goers want results as quickly as possible, while Musgrove explained that Bannatyne recently changed its strategy from giving gym staff commission on sales, to instead rewarding them on retention. 

Day one of the convention also saw Ghislain Waeyaert, managing director of Deep Nature Development, speak – during the Manage your GM/ownership panel in the afternoon.

Sessions on day two included Lead and Empower your Team, with contributions by Josh Luckow, executive director of health and healing at Canyon Ranch; Irene Forte, director of spas and learning development at Rocco Forte; and Reena Hammer, managing director of Urban Retreat.

The Monday additionally featured the Lead your Industry session, focused on how to reward and retain staff, featuring research and contributions by four different spa associations. 

Speakers during this session were Liz Holmes; vice chair of the UK SPA Association; Aldina Duarte Ramos, president of the French Spa Association SPA-A; Andrew Jacka, chairman of Asia Pacific Spa & Wellness Coalition; and Michael Tompkins, past chairman of Ispa.

There were also networking sessions on both days, at which a collection of leading industry names hosted breakout sessions that addressed a wide range of topics.

These ranged from supporting your team, engaging millennials and filling your white space, to making wellness accessible and delivering results.

Creative networking session chairs included Anna Bjurstam (above), vice president of spas and wellness at Six Senses Resorts & Spas; Trent Munday, vice president of Steiner Spa Consulting; and Leon Trayling, group spa director at Principal Hotel Company.

Takeways from the networking sesssions included that we are all responsible for our own wellbeing, brain health as a key future topic for the industry, and the importance in investing in your spa managers and directors.