NEW YORK — Record attendance at this week’s third annual Spa & Resort Expo & Conference in Manhattan was further evidence that organizers of the relatively new trade show have found a viable way to serve the $14 billion spa industry.
“There were more people here on the first day than at last year’s show over two days,” said Nancy Trent of Trent & Co., a public relations firm that represents the Expo. According to Trent, more than 4,900 aestheticians, spa management personnel, buyers and physicians attended the two-day event, which ended Monday. There were 239 exhibitors.
Greg Topalian, vice president and show manager for Reed Exhibitions, the Expo’s organizers, attributed successful attendance to taking a “regional approach of [holding shows] in selected top markets — New York, Los Angeles and Miami. The formula is really working. It gives deep penetration into the biggest markets in the country.”
Things are apparently going well enough that next year’s Expo will move from Manhattan’s Pier 94 to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. “We’ve gotten to enough of a critical mass to have a new location,” Topalian said. Additionally, next year’s New York event is scheduled for a month later — May 22 to 23 — so that “it’s further away from the other shows,” said Topalian, such as the New York International Gift Fair and Extracts.
Perhaps because the Expo opened on the warmest day in New York since November, tanning seemed to be on everyone’s mind.
“There’s more airbrush tanning than at previous shows,” observed Monique Bertsch, manager of Manhattan’s Away Spa and Gym in the W Hotel at 49th Street and Lexington Avenue. “Being tan is ‘in’ but people want to do it safely.”
Cynthia House, chief executive of tanning product maker Enhance Me, highlighted the trend by showcasing the company’s newest entry, Bronze Velvet, an at-home tanning system. Bronze Velvet made its debut at the New York International Gift Fair in February; House has sold roughly 50,000 of the 8-oz. cans, the equivalent of about $1.5 million in retail sales.
Fantasy Tan, which began marketing airbrush tanning machines in 1997 and bills itself as the “creator of airbrush tanning,” was highlighting its Fantasy Tan Express system, which is now in some 50 spas. “The sunless tanning business has exploded,” said Dominic Szurko, marketing manager for Fantasy Tan. “It’s a safe alternative to UV rays.” Another company, MagicTan, also featured its latest airbrush tanning booths and equipment.
As attention to, and acceptance of, male grooming continues to proliferate, so does the focus on catering to men — as this year’s exhibitors showed. Issimo International, for one, featured its eight-item Guy Gear shaving and treatment line. The collection, which was reformulated and repackaged, will be re-launched in about 70 doors May 1, according to co-founder Guy Lewis.
Guita Dovas, ceo of Oloff Beauty, highlighted Rash Decision, an alcohol-free, tea tree oil-based treatment that’s designed for shaving-related ingrown hairs.
And proving that the medical world is inching closer to the spa world, for the second year in a row, Medical Spa Expo & Conference was held adjacent to the Spa & Resort Expo. There, Melissa Rogne, a licensed medical aesthetician, learned about implementing spa services in the plastic surgeon’s office where she works in North Dakota. “Everyone wants to know about how to get [this business] going,” said Rogne. “If a session didn’t address setting up, people walked out.”
Wendy Bosalavage, vice president of the Medical Spa Society, agreed that the medical world has realized there’s money to be made in spa services. “Doctors want revenues from services they don’t have to bill out for. Additionally, when services occur under the umbrella of a doctor, it communicates credibility.”
— Matthew W. Evans