Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

Wellness Collective Events – Spa Networking Experiences With A Difference


Max Laurence-Gutteridge reflects on his passion for the spa and wellness industry and the journey that led him to create Wellness Collective Events.

IMG_2069.JPGThroughout my childhood I always wanted to be a Paramedic. The idea of helping people, the fast paced environment, and the opportunity to help save lives was very appealing. 

However, as many of us do, I actually ended up leaving school and heading off to college to study something entirely different. In my case it was business management and event production.

While at college I worked part-time at Harrods, and also on contracts for a handful of exhibitors at a number of major exhibitions.

So, on leaving college, I decided I wanted to go into event organisation full time, and joined Media 10, working on Grand Designs Live and the Ideal Home Show.

The next move was to Ocean Media Group, and the National Wedding Shows, then on to i2i Events Group to work on Spring Fair International, (one of the largest international trade events. My final move was to Trades Exhibitions where I headed up the team for the Professional Beauty and World Spa & Wellness portfolios.

These last two trade shows for the wellness industry really resonated strongly with me. I’ve always had an interest in health, wellbeing and leading a positive lifestyle.

Every day I try to take time out for myself; clear my thoughts and make sure I feel good in myself. As most people will agree, living in a fast paced city like London can be challenging, so what better way to keep a healthy than to practice wellness and visit spaces regularly? 

So I decided to take the plunge, leave my job, travel and explore an opportunity that had been buzzing around in my head for a while…

The idea came about after hearing friends and acquaintances within the wellness industry repeatedly acknowledge the importance of networking events to them, but also the frustration of trying to fit them around hectic professional and personal schedules, rushing around and squeezing in/getting out as much as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Additionally professionals within our industry are so passionate and talented and they always focus on their individual spa clients, trying to maximise their wellness and create the perfect experiences for them, but rarely take time out for themselves. A huge irony in our industry!

Plus, the affordability of attending such valuable events was also often a barrier. Spa operators don’t often have lots of disposable budget flying around to cover the cost of attending such events. Even though they are incredibly important to the personal growth and development of industry people, and therefore the industry itself.

And there are indeed some great events out there! I’ve worked and attended most of them. But I just felt there wasn’t anything that allowed our industry to stop, take time out and really practice what we preach.

And so Wellness Collective Events was born!

These events are in no way stuffy corporate environments. I created these networking experiences to allow our professionals space to learn, brainstorm, support each other and do business but to also feel relaxed, rejuvenated and revitalised at the same time. Wellness in the workplace is a key focus for us.

Of course there will be an allotment of business to business meetings and obviously the networking activities, and I’m really excited about our new practical style ‘hot-seat’ symposiums, but as importantly they’re an escape for operators, brands and influential minds to get together and socialise, talk openly about the current industry issues and grow our industry by finding new ways to support our customers, our communities and take the health and wellbeing of our nation to a new level!

What I want to see the Wellness Collective drive is the opportunity for operators to have ‘face-time’ with new and truly specialist spa products and services. To focus the narrative on how we practically get more people visiting our spas and losing the ‘elitist’ stereotype in favour of essential ‘self-care’ services (the same way gyms are seen for physical fitness for example).

I want the Wellness Collective to facilitate growth and development in our industry so that we become the vanguard of the United Kingdom really delivering on the wellbeing of its citizens.

Oh and it doesn’t stop with the UK! With a quickly growing team full of highly talented and motivated people, the support we’re already seeing from this wonderful industry, and our sheer determination, we’ve already got a few more ‘irons in the fire’ for new developments over the next few years.

But if I was to tell you now they wouldn’t be as exciting! They can wait for a future blog!

I suppose the final thing I want to reflect on is why I’m so committed to this industry and making Wellness Collective Events work for it.

Life can be challenging for everyone. If anyone says it isn’t then maybe they've just been very lucky. I always keep a positive attitude even when times are hard or I’m feeling low and I know that working in the spa and wellness world has been my best remedy during the less fortunate times.

I’m very grateful to have an abundance of loving, caring and thoughtful friends and I cannot thank them enough for all the support they’ve given me in recent years.

I want to ‘give back’ now by looking forward. To many more exciting years ahead creating new relationships, leading a healthier lifestyle and contributing my time to the growth and development of a wonderful industry and one of the most passionate, talented and welcoming group of professionals within it.

So each day I will commit to getting up early (not especially hard now as I’ve live half the year by some idyllic Greek views and scenery) and watch the sun rise while I run by the sea, thinking up more ways that the Wellness Collective can help the spa industry achieve world health domination ;-)

Stay well


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Monday, 20 May 2019

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