Global Spa & Wellness Summit, Day Two (Part 2)

In a continuation of stellar presentations on day two of the GSWS in Marrakech, Morocco, keynote speaker Swedish economist and author Kjell Nordstrom, PhD shared his vision for Funky Business of the Future, based on his book, Funky Business. Smart, funny and engaging, Nordstrom who talked about how the world would be changing in the next 20-30 years. He described “temporary monopolies,” using Volvo as an example of a company that had had virtually no competition until, suddenly, everyone was making safe cars. He also reminded us that life expectancy is on the rise and the planet “pin code” representing population in billions by region, currently 1114 (Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia), would in 30 years be 1135.

Nordstrom went on to discuss how populations are moving to cities, led by women, and predicted that multi-national corporations would become multi-urban as regions consolidate around those cities. He predicts that the U.S. will continue to lead the way in innovation and business in the foreseeable future, and bases his description of the U.S. as an “idea,” not a country. In that vein, he observed that anyone can “become” American in 3-5 years, but a person cannot “become” Finnish or Japanese. This quality continues to attract immigrants to our “dynamic and flexible” country, Nordstrom said, and is the reason that Silicon Valley. He did note, however, that the spa industry has “too much sameness,” and needs to innovate. His mantra: “know… go… do… be.”

Next, Pete & Susie Ellis led the GSWS Board of Directors in acknowledging appreciation for the 33 Summit sponsors, without whom the Summit would not be possible. The long list of generous contributors can be viewed here.

With three 45-minute “workshop” options were available next, I chose to attend that of retail consultant and CEO of Creative Realities Paul Price, entitled Retailing in the Future: Next Steps Workshop. Price drilled deeper into some of the concepts he brought up in his keynote the previous day. He discussed how emotions are the most powerful currency in business; inspired experiences unleash strong emotions, and connect more deeply to consumers. We were advised to leave behind our idea of business as product or service, and embrace the concept of experience, to “stop thinking about USP and embrace story-telling. Your businesses are a collection of inspiring stories, inspiring customers to come and enjoy. Stop worrying about targeting and focus on inspiring human instincts for discovery and exploration. Content is king but context is queen.”

Price went on to explain that humans are driven by an urge to feel good, and especially to have others say that we look good; these are real drivers of business to our spas. The real path to industry growth is to identify the dreams of our target audience so that we can then drive them to our businesses. He emphasized that mobile phones are a crucial marketing tool, and are native to those born since 1980. He advised that we don’t let our own antiquated references influence us, and focus on enabling a social layer in our businesses, and shared photos of examples from companies such as Illy café, with a digital social coffee table, and Colgate’s “social” aisle header, with digital images.

Price also shared examples of the next wave in retailing, including automated retailing through vending units, and social CRM platforms such as Shopify. He was asked if it was more important for businesses marketing corporate wellness to focus on the dreams of the consumer or the business, and he recommended to consider both. He mentioned that he considered USPs and brand architecture, once mainstays of brand-building, to have become “overthought psychobabble.” He advised, “Forget what you knew about marketing and let your discoveries of your client’s dreams drive the experience you are creating.” Clients find our businesses now through the web; does the home page of our website really symbolize and capture the clients’ dreams, and have we SEO’d for those terms? Price has doubts about the traditional web model, and suggested we “play with Facebook and Instagram, that’s how most people are accessing information. Think about whether the social layer is more important as an acquisition tool than your website.” So many brands have a vanilla brand experience—we need to make sure we stand out.

Other concurrent workshops available were a presentation on Islamic Wellness Traditions by Prof. Gerry Bodeker and Becoming a Wellness Warrior with industry pioneer Deborah Szekely.

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