Technology and personalisation among the topics at the 2018 World Spa & Wellness Convention in London

The advent of technology in spas, making wellness key to repeat business and the rise of hyper-personalisation were some of the topics on the agenda at the 2018 World Spa & Wellness Convention.

Taking place in London on Sunday, February 25 and Monday, February 26, the World Spa & Wellness Convention (WSWC) once again attracted hundreds of senior spa and industry professionals from around the world.

The convention featured an impressive line-up of top-level speakers from within and outside of the global spa and wellness sector.

They included Garrett Mersberger, director, wellness and Kohler Waters Spas, at Kohler and chair of the International Spa Association (Ispa); Jack Tang, chief executive and co-founder of Urban Massage; and Frank Pitsikalis, chief executive of Resort Suite.

Taking part in a panel on Tech Disruptors on Sunday, February 25, the three speakers debated the way in which technology is improving the spa experience –enabling a smoother, more streamlined booking and user experience.

However, the conversation also addressed the fact that, at the same time, guests are increasingly looking for a digital detox and a break from a 24/7 connected lifestyle from their spa experience.

The Sunday of the convention also saw a session that took the form of a conversation between Neil Jacobs, chief executive of the Six Senses resort group, and Andrew Gibson, vice president, wellbeing luxury brands, at Accor Hotels.

Topics covered during the session included the launch of Six Senses’ social, club-style wellness concept in New York, scheduled to open in 2019. The conversation also addressed how to make spa more affordable, with Jacobs suggesting that looking into ways to reduce the costs of building spas could hold the key to this.

Gibson and Jacobs also discussed the concept of potentially appointing wellness directors at hotels – roles that would be separate to spa directors and would overlook the entire wellbeing offering at a property – not only the spa element.

Sessions on Monday, February 26, including The New Wave of Hyper-personalisation, with Dr Elke Benedetto-Reisch, medical director of The Lanserhof Group; Avi Lasarow, founder of DNA Fit; and Matt Roberts, founder of Matt Roberts Personal Training.

Benedetto-Reisch emphasised the importance of a thorough consultation to find out what the client is really looking for from their wellness experience, in order to be able to create programmes guests are satisfied with and that are likely to see them come back to the property. 

Lasarow, founder of genetic testing company DNA Fit, said that although genetic testing is today becoming much more mainstream, and affordable, clients are often still weary of it, and can be concerend about the information it might unearth.

High-profile personal trainer Matt Roberts commented that personalisation is a very strong trend within fitness, spa and wellness at the moment.

Roberts, who runs bespoke retreats with destinations such as Ananda in the Himalayas and Lime Wood Hotel & Spa in the New Forest in the UK, said “everyone now wants someone who will go that extra mile for them”.

Other sessions on the two-day WSWC agenda included keynotes by Marc Ellin, global head of the Miraval Group – discussing what’s next for the brand following the takeover by Hyatt Hotels last year – and spa and wellness expert Tanya Chernova, tackling how to drive retail sales in spas.

Panel discussions included The Rebirth of Fitness in Spa on the Sunday. The panel featured Sharon Barcock, director, spa and fitness operations and development MEA, Hilton Worldwide; and James Blower international hospitality manager EMEA, Matrix Fitness.

It also included Colin Farndon director of leisure, The Gleneagles Hotel; and Johannes Mikenda director of spa and sports at the Schloss Elmau resort in Germany. For the complete 2018 World Spa & Wellness Convention programme, including all topics and speakers, click HERE