The (Spa) Show Must Go On
by Steve Capellini

I remember attending the first spa trade show ever put together in the U.S. It was the International Spa Association (ISPA) show in Miami, Florida, in 1991, and there were about 125 people there. This included people from other countries, like Germany and England. All of us could have easily fit into a typical Denny’s restaurant. There were twenty some booths on the trade show floor, and we had a limbo party where just about everyone went under the bar.

Today, things have changed. The ISPA show this year, for example, will be held at a huge convention center at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, and well over 2,000 people will attend, meandering through a hundred booths, listening to famous keynote speakers like Deepak Chopra and Andrew Weil. And that’s just one show. There are at least a dozen other spa trade shows you could attend this year in the U.S. alone, should you choose to. Add Canada, and there are half a dozen more. When you include Asia/Pacific and Europe, there is another spa show you could attend almost every weekend of the year.
How is this possible, you ask? How could so many shows do so well, attracting so many people? Well, the answer is simple. The spa industry, contrary to some “expert” opinions in the past few years, has continued to EXPLODE, mushrooming up into the popular culture in ways unforeseeable to those 125 people at the original ISPA event 14 years ago.

Part of this can be attributed to a phenomenon dubbed “trading up.” Coined by Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske in their new book, Trading Up: The New American Luxury, it describes those people who are prone to go the extra mile and spend the extra dollar to have a “luxury” experience. Spas are the ultimate trading-up experience.

So if you’re ready to get on the bandwagon, there’s no time like the present. It is definitely NOT too late, as this industry just keeps going and growing. To explore more about the myriad spa trade shows, visit the great about.com spa website. Specifically, surf over to http://spas.about.com/cs/spabuscalendar/index.htm. There you will find dozens of venues at which to mingle and learn from top professionals.

And if you would like some firsthand experience with a veteran such as myself, head over to the Downeast School of Massage in October 2004, and we’ll talk, face to face, about the possibilities for your thriving spa future, while you learn (and enjoy firsthand!) all the basic techniques that will make it possible for you to inexpensively add a myriad of spa services to your menu. I look forward to seeing you there.


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