One of the great things that happened in 2015, was bringing together all of the regional spa groups at the Washington Spa Alliance’s annual Symposium at the National Press Club in DC. As Symposium Chair, this was a longtime dream come true that I’d been working towards since early 2004, when I left American Spa magazine. At that time, I wanted to start a professional alliance that would connect all of the regional groups—but back in 2004, there just weren’t enough of them. So, I helped launch the New York Spa Alliance, and then co-founded the Washington Spa Alliance.
Getting the regionals together at WSPA was a major step. The reason why this is such a big deal is that we started a national policy discussion about spas—and alerted our legislators to the enormous economic impacts of our industry. The really great news is that this story is continuing. In the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing from each of the regional directors of our great industry, as we work to expand the national dialogue.
Today, I’d like you to meet iConnection, the California group that formed earlier this year with the consolidation of the Southern California Spa Directors Association and the San Diego Spa Association.
What is iConnection & who is behind it?
We were founded as a grassroots organization—hosting events, non-profit giving, and networking. The people behind it are Scott Duncan, President and Partner of Spa Gregories, Jim Croghan, Vice President of Operations ESPA: The Americas, Dana Wilkerson, Owner of Spa Velia & Joanne Berry, Founder & Owner of Spa Remedies.
What is the group’s mission?
iconnection’s goal is to connect industry professionals, nurture their personal and professional growth, and enhance their ability to network and succeed in the spa industry. Share, Connect, Experience.
Tell me about the beginnings of the group.
We began very grassroots. Jim and Scott ran the Southern California Spa Directors Association, and Dana ran the San Diego Spa Association with Joanne’s help. We found out six years ago that we were all running an event in the same week in March 2010, and decided to collaborate. We launched our first joint event called Spa Connection at the Grand Hyatt in Carlsbad with over 100 spa directors and 25 vendors in attendance. Since this time The Spa Connection events have evolved into what is now known as iconnection, LLC.
How many members do you have and how do you connect/engage people?
Over 1,000 qualified attendees attend our events annually. We connect and engage people face to face, at industry events, and on social media platforms. It really comes down to a lot of word of mouth within our spa community.
Does iConnection host an annual event?
Yes, we have four events a year, all in southern and northern California.
What do you hope to accomplish with iconnection?
To branch out into other industries similar to spa such as medical, cosmetic, yoga, alternative therapies, and beyond, from regional to national then to international.
How does one become a member?
We encourage everyone to join our Facebook page (see below). Spa directors, managers, department leads and buyers are all invited to be a part of our events. Spa leaders who bring immense value to our industry (such as public relations, etc.) are also invited.
I heard you had a very successful event not so long ago, and that you raised money for a few good causes through ticket sales and by auctioning off an ISPA Conference pass.
Our last event was our kick-off event of 2016, where we announced the name change to iconnection. Julie Bach, Founder of Wellness for Cancer (a Global Wellness Institute Initiative), was the keynote speaker and the event served not only as our traditional networking platform for spa directors and suppliers, but also as a tribute to Lori Hutchinson and Geraldine Howard who both passed away from cancer in early 2016. ISPA donated a full conference pass to raffle off on the night, and we sold tickets for $10 a ticket. We raised $1000 for Lori and Geraldine’s chosen charities.
Our next event will be Thursday June 9th, 2016, on the yacht in San Diego. It is two days before Global Wellness Day this year (June 11th), so we will be collaborating and our theme will be that all 150 attendees wear pink and white (the GWD colors) to support and raise awareness for GWD in our spa community.