23 May 2024 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2023 issue 3

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Leisure Management - Andrew Gibson

Spa People: 20th anniversary issue

Andrew Gibson

The real growth of our sector is the result of a global collaboration of passionate leaders

Andrew Gibson Andrew Gibson Advisory Andrew Gibson
Banyan Tree’s integral approach to spa is inspirational, says Gibson photo: banyan tree hotels & resorts
Key collaborator: Belgin Aksoy leads Global Wellness Day photo: global wellness day

What key innovations can you identify in the last 20 years?
While innovation has been a vital element of our industry’s development, I believe the real growth and maturation of our sector is the result of global collaboration by a dedicated group of passionate leaders who wanted to elevate the industry into a serious and relevant contributor to personal and societal health.

Organisations have been created that are able to set standards and get recognition from the relevant authorities. Global networks, aided by industry media, have released valuable market research. Scientific evidence showing the efficacy of modalities enables society to trust our practitioners and for us to evaluate our offerings, moving beyond gimmicks and questionable claims to credible experiences. Today the spa industry is also supported with training, careers and a network that encourages innovation.

Who have been the biggest influencers?
Susie Ellis and the board behind the Global Spa Summit (now GWS) which was formed in 2007; Belgin Aksoy who spearheads Global Wellness Day; Deborah Szekely who’s inspired so many careers and projects around the world; and the International Spa Association with its annual US Spa Industry Study and valuable support network.

From a personal perspective, I also recognise the leaders of global hotel companies who believed in wellness 20 years ago – Sonu Shivdasani at Six Senses; KP Ho from Banyan Tree and Edouard Ettedgui at Mandarin Oriental – because they paved the way for the expansion of spas into hotels.

What’s holding the industry back?
We’re not effectively demonstrating the true value of hotel spas because we don’t have the data to prove suppositions.

Properties are still measuring the success of a spa on the departmental P&L with little statistical evidence that facilities contribute anything more. Most spas are still considered a necessary burden and since COVID, some are questioning the validity of a manned facility at all.

We’ve collectively failed to prove that a good spa and skilled therapists improve the average length of stay, repeat business and increase total guest spend. With more success in this area, we’d certainly attract more investors, innovators and leaders.

Birthday message to Spa Business

"With a reputation for unbiased factual reporting, a global network that keeps us informed and an engaging style, Spa Business is one of the most influential reads for anyone wanting to understand our business"

More from spa industry leaders...

In celebration of Spa Business’ 20th anniversary, industry leaders take a look at how far the sector has come since the magazine’s inception in 2003, share personal career highlights and reveal their plans and ideas for the future.

View next: Rainer Bolsinger

Originally published in Spa Business 2023 issue 3

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