While there is no shortage of spa events on the calendar these days, an impactful newcomer arrived on the scene this month: We Work Well, which hosted its first event at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena, California.

Founded by Monica Helmstetter and Lucy Hugo, the inaugural event drew 80 spa and wellness professionals to the buyers conference.

Helmstetter and Hugo formerly worked for Questex Media’s Spatec North America and American Spa magazine, and founded the event with a mission to bring wellness into every aspect of the event experience in order to “cultivate stronger and more authentic business relationships.”

“We recognise that there are many events in our industry, but we believe this new approach of merging business with wellness addresses current trends in the industry, as well as the changing needs of the spa professional,” said Hugo. “We felt that both buyers and vendors were ready for something new and different, an event that encourages authentic connections while optimising attendee wellbeing.”

While the event featured a framework similar to other buyer conferences, the We Work Well team managed to pack in a variety of interactive components, including expanded exercise, networking and even education features.

Mocktails, guided meditation, casual attire and walking meetings were just a few of the innovations; as part of the Give Well component, buyers and suppliers spent time working side by side to make stuffed animals and fleece blankets for sick children.

All attendees participated in a “state of the industry” exercise that I facilitated through my work with Wynne Business, surfacing challenges and opportunities both individually and in groups.

But the highlight of the event for many was when the entire delegation was divided into 11 teams for an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt through the streets of Old Town Pasadena, with medals awarded to the top three teams at a sweaty group dinner, and proving that while spa folks are friendly, they can also be quite competitive!

“The feedback from out inaugural event has been very humbling, we are excited that our attendees loved our programme as much as we loved putting it together for them,” said Hugo. “We could not be prouder that we stuck to our message and provided an environment at The Langham that encouraged our attendees to connect in healthier ways, beyond traditional one-on-one meetings and networking activities.”

Aside from the positive feedback, Hugo reports that the event has helped to inspire many of the attendees: many are looking to add walk & talk meetings, wellness balls and stand-up desks, and to create give-back programmes and volunteer opportunities in the workplace.

“Most importantly,” said Hugo, “over 80 per cent of our attendees plan to close business with a buyer or supplier they met with in the next six months.”

Buyer Dawn Ferraro of JW Marriot Desert Springs commented that the event was “Truly the most impactful spa conference I have attended in my 21 years in spa. The journey these past few days was amazing, and the attention to detail was so impressive.”

The next We Work Well event will be held in 22-25 September at Dove Mountain in Tucson, Arizona.