Tuesday, May 12, 2009

World Massage Festival 2009

A bit delayed but here it is.

I do have to say that my first experience with the World Massage Festival was quite good. First off, hats off to picking such a great location, T Bar M. Of all places in Texas the location selected was New Braunfels. The resort selected really made the feel of the festival very close and communal. Unfortunately, I was unable to schedule a stay within the grounds but I sure wish I had. The property was beautiful and had that summer camp feel to it. Looking back on the festival, I am glad that it had that feel because I felt that it really added to the process of developing strong relationships with those that I had met. Sitting pool side taking in the great weather while chatting with industry colleagues about new techniques and the changing economy really added that special touch.

My first day was Saturday, so I missed the opening day and night activities. The first day I miscalculated how long it would take me to drive from Austin to New Braunfels, took me almost an hour. Luckily, the scenery made the drive enjoyable. It was so easy to get to the Festival that I didn't even need a map. It was really easy to access off of IH-35, the highway that most people probably took to get to the event. Ease of accessibility is key for festival success. It may have drawn a bigger attendance crowd had it been in a bigger city. But I have a feeling that the intention of the festival was to focus on the students and their learning and provide a very intimate environment.

The food was great. My favorite item in the meal offerings were the ribs on Saturday night. By far the best ribs I have ever had, and I have quite a bit in my time. I did find the prices a bit pricey but what can you expect, it was a festival. I do want to recommend Herberts Taco Hut near by, incredible Mexican food.

Saturday started out a bit slow. Once I got there, attendees were in class and there was not much traffic in the vendors hall. But that did provide time to stroll around and see what all was being offered at this years World Massage Festival. Some interesting vendors that really caught my attention were Mother Earth Pillows, Liddle Kidz, Bamboo Fusion, Cupping, Bon Vital, Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, Emergency Response Massage International, and finally Rossiter & Associates.

I point out this particular vendors because either they had an extravagant vendor booth that caught my attention, told a great business story or had a great product.

I was relieved to have seen the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards there promoting their cause. From my experience as a massage therapist and instructor business consultant, I have witnessed the complexity and lack of uniformity amongst the various massage therapy governing bodies. From speaking many attendees I quickly realized that this is a very common problem in the industry. Hopefully they can make the governing body uniform throughout the country, especially with the dawn on online CE course offerings.

I was able to get a trial run with Mother Earth Pillows and found it quite soothing. The entrepreneurial journey of the founder of Mother Earth Pillows was even better. Having gone from a start up in her basement to getting endorsed by Bill Clinton at a techie conference to appearing in a major national newspaper publication really made for a compelling story.

The great things that Liddle Kidz is doing for pediatric massage, pretty much making its own industry and running it. Not only does Liddle Kidz help in the development of children but they also have it in their business model to teach their students who get certified in their techniques how to build a business replicating what they learned from Liddle Kidz, talk about quick scalability. I look forward to seeing where this two person operation goes, the sky is the limit.

Bamboo Fusion presented an interesting way of a new massage technique using various polished bamboo sticks that could be either hot or cold. I found it quite innovative on how they can take something and transform it into an entire business. Too bad they were not giving demos because I would have loved to have felt what Bamboo Fusion was all about.

During my stroll around the vendor hall I came across a sort of disturbing technique called cupping. Having only been around the massage industry for 5 years now, I found this technique a bit disturbing. Although I heard all the benefits and saw a few demos, it looks quite painful. I didnt see many volunteers doing it. One thought for cupping pieces would be to put some type of cover on the glass part so that viewers of the technique wont see that inflated dark piece of skin in the glass cup, ouch talk about looking painful.

Bon Vital had by far the most extravagant vendor booth. This was definitely not their first rodeo, they had huge banners, vertical and horizontal, tons of product and they were giving free bags. Thank goodness we were close to them because it drove a lot of traffic our way and it.

Right next to us, the Emergency Response International Massage booth was there. I had never heard of them but thankfully was able to speak to them for a little bit. They do such great work. I had never thought of fulfilling the need they tend to. They quickly head out to where ever there is a disaster and provide relief in terms of giving massages to emergency workers. Talk about working together. With scenarios like that happening just about every day, I am grateful that there are people out there taking care of those taking care of us.

I really enjoyed my conversations with Rossiter & Associates. I found his business model extremely unique and re/depression resistant to an extent. His focus on companies rather than individual massage clients is genius. Also his ability to teach others what he does makes for a great business model, especially in the areas of working directly with large corporations.

Finally, the reason I attended the WMF. The Ariana Institute made its first, of many, World Massage Festival appearances. I have been working with the Ariana Institute for about 5 years now and have seen he business grow quite steadily. Ariana has a great ability to connect with her students and industry colleagues. There was not one person that I did meet that was not happy to have met her. Her energy, knowledge, and ability to talk to anyone really adds to her business. Watching her speak to her students so passionately about different techniques and business strategies made me stop and admire the true passion of the healing arts through massage.

Till next year.

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