Interview with Jean-Guy De Gabriac, the WSW convention producer
What can we expect from the 2018 World Spa & Wellness Convention?
Next year will be the fth one I serve as conference producer, and every year we strive to provide a fresh and exciting take on the World Spa & Wellness Convention (WSWC). This applies when it comes to the overall theme, which this year is Threats and Opportunities, the format of the sessions, and the bringing onboard of new faces from across the spa, wellness and hospitality industries – to name just a few elements.
Are there any topics on this year’s agenda that you’re particularly excited about?
Like all sectors, spa and wellness is always evolving, morphing and cross-fertilising. It’s currently being propelled forward by two powerful drivers: innovation in technology, and guest demand for ever-increasing personalisation.
For the 2018 programme, we have invited prominent disruptors – the full theme for next year’s convention is Get Ready for Change and Disruption: Threats & Opportunities – to share their views on panels and in keynote sessions. We will be digging deep into topics that include building spa communities, affordable wellness and leadership development.
Following the success of last year’s Manage and Boost your Fitness Operations session, we’re also continuing to look at tness. I’m passionate about helping the more than 30 chairs and speakers ying to London from all over the world nd exciting angles and pearls of wisdom that delegates can really bene t from.
Why is it important for senior spa professionals to attend the convention?
The World Spa & Wellness Convention is a must-attend event with a tremendous lineup of senior executives whose innovations and achievements one reads about in trade publications and who deliver premium content that can’t be found in textbooks. Any spa professional wanting to advance their career and boost revenue for the stakeholders in their business will bene t from attending.
What do you look for from the World Spa & Wellness Convention speakers and chairs?
We look for people who have impressed us: with their expertise, their personal qualities and their ability to run successful operations – steering companies through challenges and forging meaningful relationships with their teams.
Speakers and chairs for 2018 include Andrew Gibson, vice president of wellbeing, luxury brands for Accor Hotels, and Frank Pitsikalis, founder and chief executive of Resort Suite. They have been driving change in the industry for decades and will bring their perspectives on the main theme of change and disruption. We also have leading names from top hotels and hospitality groups sharing their experiences, including Jessica Shea, director, global brand spa for Hilton Worldwide; Isabelle Gobbo, corporate spa director for the La Reserve hotel group; and Corinna Yap, spa director at Como Metropolitan London.
What can delegates do to ensure they get the most out of the convention?
Every year, I meet two types of delegates: the silent ones who take lots of notes but are too shy to interact and those who prepare in advance and research the speakers, making a list of the ones they want to meet so they can engage them in conversation and ask for their opinion. Both groups greatly bene t from the education and networking at the WSWC, but the latter squeeze even more out of this networking event, using it to the fullest.
How important is networking to the convention formula?
The convention sessions provide great, and applicable content. However, you have a better chance of leaving with additional information if you engage more. The smaller, more intimate and interactive elements such as the Breakfast Club, the lunches and the Creative Networking Sessions (CNS) in the afternoons are great opportunities to do that.
What is the concept behind the Creative Networking Sessions?
Delegates love the content of the panels and keynotes, but they also enjoy sharing best practice in a more intimate setting, which is why we have breakout sessions in the afternoons. We offer a selection of topics, with two speakers per topic. They kick things off by sharing inspiring tips for around 10 minutes each, to get the conversation started.
Delegates then get to ask questions or share their own experiences for around 40 minutes and, nally, everyone gathers in the main convention room for the last 30 minutes of the day, to hear the concluding thoughts from the different networking sessions. In 2018, the CNS will cover topics such as mental wellness, boosting revenue per guest and becoming an award-winning spa.