Through the years we develop a pool of highly qualified and experienced contacts in the Spa & Wellness sector. In this interview, Wellness Today is fortunate to start the new year (2018) discussing the industry with Barry White, a highly regarded professional in global wellness.
▲ Mr. Barry White
[WT] Could you give us a bit of a background on your experience in the industry? What led you into Wellness, and the path that took you into east Asia?
[BW] My experience in the health, wellness, spa and fitness industry spans over 25 years. First starting out in the UK, moving on to Australia and then to Asia. My permanent move to Asia was in 2004 when I moved to Hong Kong to become pre-opening Director for the newly opened Langham Place Hotel. This was the start of my amazing 14 years with Langham Hospitality Group, in which time I was not only able to grow in terms of new promotions and roles, but more fundamental I was given the unique opportunity of relative freedom to create, develop and define the Chuan Spa brand. Chuan Spa is Langham’s proprietary luxury award winning spa and wellness brand that is located in all Langham, Langham Place and Cordis hotels globally. It was a ‘dream’ role, that is hard to come by and has given me the best platform and tuition to starting my own company in 2017.
[WT] What is the focus of your company?
[BW] My company is called WHITE (www.wswf.co) and I am developing broad elements of the business. First is in the spa, wellness and fitness space. Whereby I am providing management consultancy services, whether it be full management services, bespoke trouble shooting or a business optimization focus. We are providing comprehensive marketing and event solutions, this includes full traditional marketing solutions, in addition to e-business, SEM, SEO and social media content. We are also providing specialist event organization, which combined with our social media marketing expertise provides more engagement and return for the clients.
Given my extensive background in developing and opening over 30 projects in the last 14 years, WHITE is also providing project & technical services for new builds and pre-openings operations. Lastly, we are providing business development solutions to product companies specifically wishing to growth their portfolio in the Asia market. We operate between the owning company and regional agents / distributors, to provide additional expertise required to ensure brand integrity and consistency, whilst growing the brand in partnership with regional agents and distributors in keys market, who may not be able to secure the level of expertise we provide on a full-time basis.
We have also partnered with some of the leading wellness and lifestyle companies, to also support us provide recruitment, product and equipment solutions to our clients. Thus providing a comprehensive solution to any wellness business owner or operator whether in development or in operation.
[WT] You presently have offices in Hong Kong and Manila. What is your intended reach with this base?
[BW] Hong Kong is our home, and is the base of all our activities. This location provides us with the environment and reach to continue to successfully grow WHITE. Hong Kong remains one of the top international Asian business hubs and is critical to our long-term objectives.
We have identified several key cities in Asia to enable quick growth, Manila being one of these. In our first year, we have secured several high-profile clients in Manila, and we believe that the Philippines has massive potential in the wellness space and we are commitment to growing in this amazing country.
[WT] Have there been significant changes in the Wellness Industry since the start of the millennium?
[BW] In many ways, the industry has come full circle. We have seen a ‘boom’ period in the early part of the ‘000, now the industry has become better understood and a standard in the hospitality sector. Now we are seeing more consolidation and a focus on making the sector more commercially sustainable. This is where I believe WHITE is able to support businesses old and new, as we have the in-depth experience, knowledge to understand the errors and successes over the past 25 years, to ensure that our clients are set for success and benefit directly from our 25 years of expertise in the wellness space.
[WT] What changes do you see are needed in the industry in the coming years?
[BW] Owners and hotel management companies need to invest early with experts in the industry, who really understand not only the operational and softer side of the business but more critically the project and commercial aspects. The hospitality sector of the industry, requires to invest and better understand the unique elements of the business in-order to demonstrate just how commercially and operationally successful this part of their business can be, if designed, set up and operated correctly. Rather than over simplify and cookie cut the approach to the industry.
[WT] How does technology play into your recommendations in spa management? Are there technology functions that are underutilized in the industry?
[BW] Technology in spas is only now becoming a big talking point in the industry. Its woefully underutilised, it's nothing new, just people are talking about it now. In the hospitality sector, I was always could not understand why in the hotel, all other depts., had IT solutions to assist optimize the dept, but when it came to the spa either you had nothing or the systems available were not very good. This in part was due to my answer in the last question and because many hoteliers have a built-in notion that spas don’t make money (it is also this attitude that is also significant factor of being able to grow and get investment in the industry).
In recent years this has changed, with the likes of Book4Time(https://book4time.com), now providing a system that is affordable and has been created with many of the requirement needed to effectively operate your business.
[WT] Does technology have a place in the treatment room, and how well are those needs presently addressed?
[BW] Absolutely, Technology has had a functional place in the treatment room, for a long time, whether it be music, AV, lighting, and environmental controls. But now there is significant opportunity to enhance these functional experience, in additional to compliment these with introducing technology into treatments and services themselves. In order to become a fully immersive experience.
However, the opposite equally has value, subject to the focus of the business. Having technology free environment, in a technology rich world is becoming increasing popular. Finding a ‘silent’ space to disconnect is as important.
[WT] Are you able to highlight a couple of your projects and what your services did for them?
[WT] Could you explain "White Art Concepts"? How did this evolve?
[BW] This is very much a passion project. Over the last two years, I have had several ‘pop-up’ art exhibitions in Hong Kong, mostly recently last year between March – May 2017. My Dad is a prolific artist and has over 4500 original art works in his portfolio. I decide to do a ‘pop-up’ concept to exhibit his work, mainly because it was a fun process. These have been very well received and we have been lucky to have sold a number of pieces. Moving forward I intend to exhibit around Asia, using the same pop-up concept. Having now completed two exhibitions and obtained the knowhow to conduct these exhibitions successfully. White Art Concepts, is a platform for any up and coming artist who has the desire to exhibit their work to the public. We provide a turnkey affordable solution to enable them to realise this objective.
Wellness Today would like to thank Barry White for his time and contribution to this interview. He may be reached at: Website: www.wswf.co