2018 Spa and Wellness Trend: The Rise of Regional Spa Associations

Regional spa associations are shaping up to be a trend in 2018. // Credit: missbobbit/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The size and scope of the spa and wellness  industry is truly astounding— last reports from the Global Wellness Institute value the global wellness economy at a staggering $3.7 trillion. But what is good for tropical spas in Hawaii may not quite fly for the round-the-clock wellness approaches of a spa on the Las Vegas Strip. That’s where regional spa associations come in and are thriving like never before. Penny Kriel, chair for Washington Spa Alliance (WSA), says she thinks these regional groups give local members a sense of community that they crave. “Although our spa industry is relatively similar in business and trade, every region is unique and has individual needs,” adds Ilana Moses, founder and CEO of the Florida Spa Association (FSA). “Focusing on the needs of a specific region is advantageous to achieving a better outcome and development.”

Membership in a regional association generally involves an annual fee, which gives members entrée to local networking events, parties, and award celebrations; access to local charity efforts; targeted connections to relevant  vendors; surveys and research; and more. Each group also tends to have a standout event or affiliation that makes it unique. The Las Vegas Spa Association (LVSA), for example, hosts an annual formal awards night to acknowledge standout members. FSA’s Moses is a Global Wellness Day ambassador and enlists the support of her group to advance that cause. The Washington Spa Alliance hosts an annual symposium that helps bring awareness of wellness-related issues to the national government stage and hopes to be a hub for other regional groups to bring their concerns to the nation’s capital.

The most obvious reason regional spa associations are resonating is because they connect colleagues facing the same successes and challenges in a way that may not be possible on a more global scale. “The personal connection, the advantage of proximity, and the opportunity for relevance is often limited on the larger stage,” says Michael Garvey, president of the LVSA. “There is strength in unity—so much can be shared and gained by the collective.” Moses also believes that the intimacy of regional events encourages focusing on the needs of a specific territory. “Being a tight-knit community creates a feeling of trust, and a bond is created by a shared goal or experience as well as forming a support system,” she says.

It’s also helpful when it comes to career advancement and addressing staffing needs. “This aspect of joining forces has assisted greatly in staffing and recruiting challenges, which most spas continue to struggle with,” says Kriel. “Bringing the leaders together allows you to learn if anyone wants to share providers or who has therapists looking for additional hours.”

Additionally, the social aspect of connecting with others who are in the same busy boat is personally fulfilling and helps address the sometimes-solitary aspect of running a spa and leading a team. “I remember back in the day, it was to each his own, and you were hesitant to engage your industry peers, as you saw them as competition,” says Kriel. “I feel like the association gives us a platform to break the ice, gather, discuss, and support each other."

Opportunities abound to become a part of a regional spa association. Have you joined yours?

What spa association are you a part of? For more info, stay tuned here on American Spa online for an upcoming series on regional spa associations.

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