In December, 260 spa professionals from 15 countries gathered in Baku, Azerbaijan, for the sixth annual Spa & Wellness International Congress, oriented to businesses in the Russian-speaking regions of the world. Organiser Elena Bogacheva, president of Russia’s Spa & Wellness International Council (SWIC), and CEO of consulting firm Spa Priori, put together an insightful four-day event.
Opening day, panels covered wide-ranging topics such as current spa concepts, wellness marketing and KPIs. Dr Tamaz Mchedlidze, creator of the Bioli Medical Wellness Resort in Georgia, shared the vision behind the resort’s successful mix of stress management, exercise, and functional nutrition. Later on, the resort received SWIC’s 2019 Perfect Spa Award (see opposite), along with Gazelli Art House, a gorgeous multi-faceted business in downtown Baku which hosted delegates for an evening.
On subsequent days, the congress was divided into sections such as Hotel & Resort Spa Segment Trends and Day Spa Best Practices, enabling deeper dives into content specific to these markets. There were numerous insightful presentations on subjects such as investments in biohacking, wellness architecture, and budgeting & cash flow management.
Meanwhile, in evening discussions, many delegates voiced their concerns about black market spas, especially in Moscow. These non-licensed facilities offer cheaper services and are tempting staff from legitimate spas with unrealistic compensation schemes. In other news, however, it was noted that younger clients are drawn to more sustainable businesses and practices.
In a Scientific Conference on the fourth day, professors and doctors gave expert presentations on Age in the 21st Century; Innovative Laboratory Diagnostics; and hormones, beauty and ageing.
The congress concluded with a gala dinner, with copious amounts of food, wine and a fun atmosphere emceed by Russian talk show host Alexander Gerasimov. The delegation now look forward to meeting again in Minsk, Belarus, on 15-18 September 2020.