ISPA Europe Closure - What Next?

As the future of the European spa industry voice hangs in the balance, news of a global gathering has reached Spas Weekly.
Some of the spa industryå‘s biggest operators from Africa, the Middle East, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Hungary, Austria, the UK and the Netherlands, are gathering for a forum in May, in Germany - the birthplace of ISPA Europe - to discuss the future of a spa association to replace ISPA Europe.

With a working title of ‘The Spa Federation’, the aim is to create an organisation that “Truly understands and caters for the different cultures that make up the spa industry across Europe, The Middle East and Africa, and contribute to its rich diversity. The forum is the first step to realising this and will provide the opportunity for key business influences in these various countries to work out strategically how a new association can be formed, and what its vision and mission will be.”

The decision to hold the forum is being backed by many ISPA Europe members who have voiced concerns over American-based ISPA’s decision to close the European and South East Asian Chapters. Jonathan Stapleton, general manager of the Old Course Hotel and Spa, in Scotland, says: “My feeling on the closure is that it’s a backward step. It’s na├»ve to think that an association that is domiciled in America can truly be international simply by having European representatives on its board. Any influence they can bring can only be limited and as time goes on it will be very difficult for anyone who remains a member in Asia and Europe to feel they are being effectively considered.”

His views are shared by Robert Rogner Jnr, owner of the Rogner Group in Austria. “The spa business is different throughout the world and especially within Europe, which is why we feel a global voice is the wrong answer. Such an approach would not address our customers and industry needs. To protect our interests we feel that there has to be a European voice you can trust and rely on.”

Speaking on behalf of the ex-board of ISPA Europe, Carina Billetun says, “We recognise the need for a spa industry association that is focussed on Europe, the Middle East and Africa - one that is part of their cultures and communities and is driven by their different needs from the ground up. The idea behind trying to create a new association is to build on all the good work that ISPA Europe achieved, so we can develop a strong closeness between the different countries that can be consolidated into a representative international body. That’s why we like the idea of using the word federation because it’s a term that infers a grouping of like-minded people who can stand stronger by learning and developing from each other.”


Also on the agenda for discussion at the forum, are plans to hold an international spa congress in Stockholm this September, which could see the official launch of the new spa association.

More information about this and membership details will be announced after the forum. But in the meantime, any queries or comments can be directed through Samantha Orange at Footprint Impression Management Ltd, PO Box 4, Leeds, LS15 8WX. Tel: +44 (0) 113 251 5694. Fax: + 44 (0)113 251 5351. Email: [email protected]