We just returned from the 2018 ISPA Expo and Conference in Phoenix, and dang! was it a great time. Each of the keynote speakers were funny and inspirational, we learned a tremendous amount about innovative spa products on or coming to market, and best of all, we were able to meet some great people and connect with old friends in the industry.

The Keynote Speakers: Here’s What We Learned

Shawn Achor, ISPA 2018
Shawn Achor

Shawn’s speech was not only hilarious but amazingly insightful. He has sat down to talk about  happiness and positive psychology with both Oprah Winfrey and Brené Brown, making him an instant favorite of ours.

The takeaway: Shawn’s years of research has shown that implementing daily happiness habits can transform your life, and that of others. He claims that what will make you happy is changing just one habit per day, and that gratitude is one of the most powerful things you can give to people, so expressing gratitude is one positive habit you can make each day to put you on a path to lasting happiness.

How we’re going to implement this into our business and lives: we’ve started employing the one simple habit he recommended — start your day by taking two minutes to praise or thank one person in your life. In the bigger picture, we understand now that happiness is an interconnected choice, not an individual choice, and since social connection is vital to life expectancy, we’re going to make sure that everything we do works towards staying truly connected to others and expressing gratitude for it.

Favorite quote: “Happiness is the joy we feel moving towards our potential.”


Sally Hogshead, ISPA 2018
Sally Hogshead

We were first introduced to Sally Hogshead’s Fascination Advantage tool last year during the Being Boss creative entrepreneur mastermind retreat.

Sally defines the Primary Advantage as your most effective mode of communication. “When you communicate with this Advantage, you are your most fascinating and influential.”

The Secondary Advantage “describes your second-highest mode of communication. Like your Primary Advantage, it describes how your personality is most likely to add value.”

One benefit of delving deeper into an upgraded report was discovering the Dormant Advantage — Sally describes this advantage as “the one that holds the least potential for you in fascinating others; it’s how you are least likely to influence and impress others.”

The takeaway: The Fascination Advantage is different than all the other personality assessments because it’s not based on how you see the world, it’s based on how the world sees you. Sally has developed a system that is based on branding, rather than psychology. It shows us communication patterns rather than personality traits, which is super helpful in all interpersonal relationships, whether socially or in business. Defining your Advantage helps you create your personal brand, identifies what makes you valuable and fascinating, and gives you the tools on how to communicate them.

Probably the biggest takeaway from Sally’s keynote was how to use the Fascination Advantage system for business: it can greatly improve recruitment, retention and engagement within the workplace. “Teams that work well together are teams that understand each other. When you understand the communication patterns and tendencies of your team members, you can cut through the conflict and encourage healthy relationships.”

How we’re going to implement this into our business and lives:  Moving forward, when we hire, we’re going to make it a requirement to have each team member take the Fascination Advantage Assessment. We’ll put up a board and create a shared document with everyone’s archetype as a daily guide on how we can all collaborate and communicate effectively with all these fabulously different and fascinating people.

Favorite quotes: “You don’t have to learn how to be fascinating. You have to unlearn boring. You don’t have to change who you are, you have to be more of who you are. Different is better than better. The greatest way to empower someone is to show them who they are at their best.”

ISPA has partnered with Sally for an exclusive Fascinate Program for ISPA members. See the September 2018 issue of Pulse Magazine for details.


Daymond John, ISPA 2018
Daymond John

Daymond John’s talk showed us how one determined and motivated young entrepreneur can bootstrap from the bottom (his mother’s basement) and rise all the way up to $6B in fashion product sales, receive multiple entrepreneurship awards, and become a highly sought-after and influential consultant and investor. He’s written best-selling books, met all the world’s most influential thought leaders, and danced with Prince onstage on to party like it was 1999 on New Year’s Eve Y2K.

The takeaway: Daymond’s five SHARK points (that he developed via his marketing firm, Shark Branding) are good pieces of advice for any entrepreneur.

  1. Set a goal (otherwise people set it for you)
  2. Do your homework (know every single thing about your customer and industry)
  3. Love what you do and those love those around you more than what you do (never forget who you’re doing it for)
  4. Remember you are the brand (use 2-5 words to describe you, then you’ll master your pitch)
  5. Keep swimming (don’t give up!)

The biggest takeaways or inspirational moments from Daymond’s speech were not actually things that he did, but what two women in his life did for him that helped to propel him where he is today. The first was Khloe Kardashian, who “fired” Daymond as her consultant so he could accept the job on Shark Tank, and the second was his ex-wife who showed him that the true way forward for him was to pay it forward in life.

How we’re going to implement this into our business and lives: Thankfully Daymond’s SHARK points are relatively easy to implement and most of it we’ve done already.  Daymond has inspired us to think laterally though, and perhaps start watching Shark Tank on a more regular basis.


ISPA Expo 2018
Image courtesy ISPA.

Trends for 2019 We Saw on the Expo Floor

We walked the expo floor for three long days, and had the very difficult task of sampling and collecting a wide variety of spa products. (I know, I know, it’s a tough life. We took one for the team) One of the things we love to do when we attend the ISPA Expo is to see what’s new and upcoming in the spa industry. Here are some of the brands and products that made us take notice, and where we see a trend developing for next year:

CBD Oil, Massage Lotions and Pain-Relief Balms

Maybe many of you are asking, “What the heck is CBD?” Those of you who have imbibed in a little THC probably know its non-psychoactive sister. Cannabidiol —CBD — is a natural constituent of the hemp plant that has been shown to have positive health benefits, without causing psychoactive effects. CBD is a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits, but doesn’t make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. Scientific and clinical research has shown CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including: arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD is also extremely effective for alleviating pain and inflammation without any of the side-effects that you’d normally find in pharmaceuticals or over-the-counter pain drugs.

Last year at the expo we saw maybe one brand mention that they were developing CBD-based products for massage lotions and pain-relief balms. This year, we counted at least five exhibitors that had CBD products in their lineup. These products included both edible hemp oil and CBD honey, as well as a ton of topical oils, lotions, salves and balms.

Image courtesy ISPA.

Consumers are really getting into all natural means of pain relief without getting high, and this year news story after news story has shown just how transformational CBD can be for those suffering from chronic pain, seizures and mental illness.

Spas have been looking to offer more natural ways to promote relaxation, reduce stress and alleviate pain in their spa-goers and savvy product manufacturers have clearly taken notice. Here are some of the brands we met with that offer CBD in their product lineup:

  • Mana Artisan Botanics: Handcrafted, full spectrum hemp extracts infused with pure, Hawaiian botanicals for whole body wellness. http://manabotanics.com/
  • Bolt CBD: Verified CBD Oil and a premium manufacturer of organic CBD oil products. http://boltcbd.com/
  • Sacred Mind & Body: hemp oil infused products including Pain Balm and Pain Relief Lotion, using only the finest, natural, high quality ingredients. https://hempsacred.com/
  • Biotone Lab + Blends: LAB+BLENDS CBD is a division of Biotone Products dedicated to enhancing lives with the breakthrough powers of CBD. https://lab-blends.com/
  • Zilis: Zilis ULTRACELL® technology delivers superior bioavailability in a full spectrum hemp oil. https://www.zilis.com/

Experience-focused discount marketing

If you read our blog series, Horrible Mistakes You’re Making with Spa Branding & Marketing, you might remember that in Part 3 that one of the horrible mistakes was working with discount marketers like Groupon to offer first-time visitors a discount on spa treatments.  In last year’s ISPA Snapshot Survey on Marketing, 51% of spas indicated that offering discounts for first-time customers was only somewhat effective or not at all effective.

Not only is this kind of marketing ineffective, but it can also tarnish your upscale spa brand image. When we saw that Groupon and Travelzoo were going to be present at the show this year, we wanted to meet with both to see how they were going to counteract the stigma of discounts and cheapening brand images with their new spa-focused programs.

Photos courtesy ISPA.

We’ll write another post on this since the landscape here is changing, but here’s the preview:

  1. Groupon has started a new platform called Groupon Signature in their Health, Beauty & Wellness department. Essentially they wanted to make sure that luxury spa treatments don’t end up next to car washes, and that those who find these offers are more likely to be repeat customers instead. This program is completely customized to each property/spa/business and Groupon develops to custom ideas with you based on your spa’s goals. In order to combat the perception (or stigma) of the cheap deal, Groupon is more focused on helping you craft offers that are more experience-based, rather than discount-based. There might be a small discount offered to make the experience more attractive, but this program is definitely not your average Groupon deal of the day.
  2. Travelzoo is leveraging its 28 million global subscribers for their own spa industry solution. Data on their members shows that 80% visit spas, and when they visited spas, they spent $10 million on spa treatments, and spent 30% more per visit than the average American. In short, their subscribers are ready, willing and able to spend money on going to the spa and are looking for offers in their inbox to do so. Travelzoo has several different ways to promote your spa business and they’ll recommend the ones best suited for you and your needs or goals. Like Groupon, they want to focus more on the experience at the spa, rather than the discount because their data shows that 41% of their members spend more than the Travelzoo voucher amount when they visit the spa. “Travelzoo media products target customers with the interest and the means to indulge in premium spa experiences.”

For both Groupon Signature/Luxury and Travelzoo, the most common goal for spas in the luxury category is to fill available appointments during the week targeted to people who have the means to indulge in premium spa experiences, as opposed to creating awareness.

Health, wellness and sustainability

While the old guard of aesthetics and beauty were still out in full force, it seems that they were not the majority of exhibitors at this year’s show. When I say “old guard”, I mean brands that have been in the spa world for over a decade, and whose lines are “results-driven” without any mention of “free from” bad stuff, natural ingredients, sustainability, or eco-friendliness.

This year, we saw more brands with “botanical” or “botanics”, Certified Organic, COSMOS or Ecocert Certified, and free of practically everything — parabens, GMOs, chemical preservatives, gluten, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, phthalates…the list goes on. These great wellness-driven products weren’t just for the face either as we’ve seen in past years.

Farmhouse Fresh booth at ISPA 2018

We were excited to find healthy whole body lines that went right down to your nails, and products for that were geared towards beauty from the inside out — food, drink and other edibles. Our favorites from this year are:

  • Farmhouse Fresh: skincare products grown and crafted with delicious epicurean flair, that are either certified organic or use up to 100% naturally derived ingredients — all chock full of fruits, vegetables, milks, and more from U.S. farms, including their own. They’ve been a perennial favorite actually because of this, and because of their dedication to animal rescue — they have one on their farm and they work with local rescues to save forgotten and abused animals. https://farmhousefreshgoods.com
  • Dazzle Dry: Dazzle Dry creates flawless nails without flawed ingredients. By manufacturing exclusively in the U.S. and verifying each ingredient for quality and purity, they ensure that their entire line is free from animal byproducts, animal testing, and harmful chemicals such as toluene, formaldehyde, TPHP, nitrocellulose, camphor, formaldehyde resin, ethyl tosylamide, phthalates, xylene, and MEK. Dazzle Dry delivers a nail care system that is both nontoxic and hypoallergenic. In addition to creating a super-healthy line of nail products, they also partner with the WeForest Project in India to help regenerate forests in the Khasi Hills of India. https://dazzledry.com/
  • Whish: “Powerfully effective naturals” is how Whish describes their range of skincare products, which includes shaving cream, body butter, ingrown hair serum and self-tanners. We were first introduced to Whish when they only had shaving cream and post-shave ingrown hair serum, which are fabulous. Now they have an entire line for face and body, featuring Bakuchiol (an antioxidant found in the seeds and leaves of the plant Psoralea Corylifolia) in their skin care line. Bakuchiol delivers restorative, retinol-like anti-aging benefits without the harsh side effects. Other products in the Whish line have botanical ingredients like Seabuckthorn extract, pomegranate oil, organic coconut fruit extract, organic sunflower seed oil and organic green tea. https://whishbody.com/
  • milk + honey: “milk + honey is organic, luxurious, and effective.” milk + honey was launched as a spa in 2006 and its founding principles were to create an exceptional spa experience, commit to clean ingredients, enrich their employees’ lives, and give back to the community. Kia loved her experience at the milk + honey spa in Austin so much that she brought home their Sore Muscle Soak and Body Oil (which contain Eucalyptus, Arnica, Rosemary, Sweet Marjoram) and Arnica balm (which also contains Eucalyptus and Calendula). milk + honey have expanded their line to include lip balms and scrubs, aluminium-free and baking-soda free deodorant, essential oil candles, and home fragrances. https://milkandhoney.com/

To see more from this year’s #ISPA2018, check out ISPA’s official photo gallery.

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