Spa Conference – The Value Proposition

Over the past few months I’ve attended three spa conferences. Each in a different country. Each of a different size and scale. And each with a different cost to me. So, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the cost vs benefit – ie: the value proposition – of these events.

What’s the value of attending a spa conference?

It’s a question lots of hotel spa managers get asked each year. Hotel General Managers want to know. Are you really going to learn anything practical that you can bring back to the spa and implement? Will that implementation produce an uptick in revenues? Will the resulting profits cover the costs of sending you the conference? Couldn’t you learn just as much from an online course or a YouTube video or, dare I suggest it…from reading a book?

Remember, value is a function of benefits and costs. And we’re not just talking about the cost of the entry ticket to the event. Often times, there’s a transport cost to get there, an accommodation cost to stay there, a food cost to eat there.  Additionally, there’s the cost of your time too. And the opportunity cost of attending a spa conference versus working on a new promotion for the spa or some extra retail training for your team.

Whenever I’ve asked fellow attendees what they felt was the benefit they got by attending these conferences, the answer was usually the same. Ideas and Networking.

Hmmmm? Good answers…if we were in the year 1965!

Online or Offline?

But today we’re living in the Information Age. Not to mention the Social Network Age. Sharing ideas and networking are arguably the two main uses of the internet. Shouldn’t we be able to get benefits like this all from the comfort of our laptop? Infact, I could make an argument that both benefits could actually be reaped more efficiently online than they can offline. Can you really tell me you can achieve effective networking at an event with 600+ attendees?

Am I missing something?

Now, it is worth noting that not every spa conference follows the same format. There are some that focus on having industry leaders share their insights on a range of topics. Others are more of a platform to highlight and launch new products. Then there’s the match-making events that bring together sellers of spa products and equipment with potential buyers. But regardless of the conference format, Ideas and Networking still seem to be the main reasons for attending.

Again I ask, casting a dispassionate eye over the value proposition, are spa conferences an effective and efficient use of your time and money today?

As mentioned above, cost is key factor. So, if the tangible benefits can be derived online, maybe it all comes down to the cost of attending that spa conference. If it’s just a few hundred dollars, then why not? That’s a relatively small price to pay. It’s probably worth that just to give the spa manager a bit of a reward for a job well done. But what if the cost is $2,000+? Is it still worth it?

Of course, there is no substitute for human interaction. I get that. Indeed I agree wholeheartedly. After all, we are in a high touch industry. All I’m saying is let’s be real when assessing the overall value of these events. Convincing your GM that you need to attend that spa conference to get fresh ideas and to network will, at some point, start to run a bit thin as a justification.

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