Self-Care Insiders: Spa Talk With ISPA’s President, Lynne McNees

Officially the International SPA Association plays an important educational and research role in the spa industry, for professionals and spa-goers alike, however it does so much more than that. Today, it is more important than ever to promote wellness and self-care for those looking to live a healthier lifestyle. ISPA gives us a glimpse into the wide world of spas, they are the real insiders.

Most importantly, their mission is to promote the advancements in wellness for public welfare. This means more than luxury spa treatments. Spas and wellness should be encouraged and accessible to the masses; through fitness, self-care, spirituality, holistic health, medical care, and yes, professional spa services. Fostering new leaders and making sure the public and media are made aware of quality wellness services, available and visible to all, has been at the core of ISPA’s philosophy since the very beginning. ISPA’s President, Lynne Mcnees, admits that when ISPA launched, there was a real lack of education about what the word spa means and what spas can do for your mind, body and soul. Not anymore. The organization has been well on their way to accomplishing their mission and Lynne Mcnees’s work to make that happen continues to impress spa professionals, the media and spa lovers each and every year.

Read our Q & A with the President of ISPA, Lynne Mcnees.

How has ISPA’s mission/purpose changed or shifted over the years? 

The International SPA Association (ISPA) was created in 1991 to provide industry professionals a place to connect and share experiences while working together to grow the industry. The spa industry generates revenue of more than $18.3B with over 22,000 spas in the U.S. alone. The industry has come a long way. When I first started with ISPA, we had to explain that we weren’t hot tubs! Now, spa has become a part of our everyday lives.

In addition to the industry growing to record levels, the spa goer has become incredible sophisticated in regard to what they want in a spa experience. With that, the benefits that ISPA offers its members has evolved to help them meet these. Although our association and the industry look different than it did thirty years ago, our core mission to grow the industry as a community of spa leaders has not wavered.

Going to a spa for the first time can be intimidating. How can newbies best tap into the spa life? 

Although most people still visit spas by themselves, research has shown an increase in spa-goers visiting with friends, partners or in a group. This spring, we released a new Consumer Research initiative focusing on the spa-goer. For both males and females, the percentage visiting spas with others had increased over twenty percent from our last research in 2013.

In the research, we found that women are more likely than men to visit with a group of friends. While men, on the other hand, are more likely to visit with their partner. This tells us that a large portion of our population now sees spa as a social event, which will help introduce the spa experience to customers who have not visited previously.

Spas are all about healing and taking a respite. How do you think people focusing on their mental health or recovery from an illness benefit from the wellness industry? Do you know of any programs that cater to this specific group of people? 

Spas, now more than ever, are embracing those clients who are looking to heal from injuries or illnesses. A perfect example are spas that have massage therapist trained to specifically work on those clients who have been diagnosed with cancer. Last year, Kohler Water Spas – for example – held a training session for their therapists so that an oncology trained therapist would be on staff to specifically help clients that are experiencing cancer and the side effects from their treatments.

Another area we are seeing considerable growth in is the use of CBD products in the spa. Our 2019 ISPA U.S. Spa Industry study showed that one in five spas in the U.S. is already offering CBD in their treatments. As the spa-goer learns more about the healing effects of CBD, the demand for spas to offer this on their treatment menu is only going to rise.

ISPA’s Las Vegas Conference and Expo will be celebrating 30 years in 2020 and will has so much to offer. Do you have a recommendation on navigating the Expo so visitors get the most out of their experience? 

We are so excited to be celebrating 30 years in 2020 and cannot wait to introduce many exciting features for this anniversary year.

Coming to the Conference & Expo with a plan is very important. Have a list of items and services that your spa is specifically looking to add in the next year. Explore the Expo floor and schedule on attendispa.com before you arrive and set appointments with those you are most interested in connecting with. This will help keep you on task while you are there. With that being said, I also think it is important to have a flexible schedule so that you can thoroughly explore all the show has to offer. There are so many new, exciting products and brands that launch at the event each year, you never know what you may discover.

Be sure to network with other attendees at the event. The connections you make offer incredible insights about what they are using and what treatments and products their customers are most excited about. Everyone at the ISPA Conference & Expo is there to learn and grow so don’t be shy about connecting and meeting new people.

I read that you love to sing and makeup songs. What other ways do you unwind and practice the spa lifestyle in your personal life? 

My husband and I are lucky to live on six acres outside of Lexington, KY surrounded by horses and our two miniature dachshunds. We love to be outside in our garden and be homebodies when we are not traveling.

We see the terms “self-care” and “wellness” everywhere. People have become more educated and willing to live a slower and healthier lifestyle. What do you foresee happening for the wellness spa industry in the future? 

Spas have always been a place where people seek to relax and reenergize, but more customers now view spa has part of their overall healthy lifestyle. Last year alone, we saw 190 million spa visits in the U.S., and we anticipate this number to climb as the population continues to become educated on the benefits of spa treatments.

One of our industry’s biggest challenges is keeping up with the demand. Currently, we have over 30,000 jobs unfilled in the spa industry. ISPA is taking on an active role to try and fill this void by hosting the ISPA Talent Symposium. This event is the first of its kind for our industry and will provide attendees with key takeaways on how to build an engaged workforce.

I believe we will also begin to see the use of technology take on new roles within the spa. The use of artificial intelligence is already being incorporated with some spas offering guided mediation through a virtual reality headset during a manicure.

With that being said, spa goers are busier than ever and are looking for ways to disconnect. Through the use of smartphones, we are always accessible which can make it hard to fully relax and recharge.  We anticipate seeing more spas creating technology and phone-free zones allowing the spa goer to be completely free of distractions during their visit.

It is a very exciting time to be a part of the spa industry and we look forward to the new developments ISPA Members continue to make as the industry advances.

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