The 1st International Wellness Tourism Conference – thank you to ALL who participated!

The 1st International Wellness Tourism Conference – thank you to ALL who participated! 2021-09-30T18:02:19+00:00

(You’ll find the registration button at the bottom of the page. All times are ET)

All attendees will be offered two small gifts: 1. A 20% discount on skin care products from Dakota Biotech and 2. Complimentary access to the current list of Bedside Reading eBooks and Audiobooks. We’ll send all registrant more info following the conference.  PLUS, one lucky attendee will win a gift pack of The LaFlore® Collection – total value $460.

Wednesday, September 29th

9:00 – 9:15 am:  Official welcome to the 1st WTA International Wellness Tourism Conference

Host for this virtual event is Anne Dimon, Co-Founder and President /CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association. A long-time industry journalist who has traveled the world as a columnist/contributor to a wide variety of publications, Anne is also Owner/ Editor of launched in 2004 as the first online resource for the wellness-minded traveler. Prior to her life as a journalist, Anne was president of her own public relations company specializing in hospitality. She is also the co-author of The Travel Institute’s Wellness Travel Specialist Course, a collaboration with the WTA.

Opening Commentary from Molly Anderson, representing WTA Co-Founder Canyon Ranch

Vice President Sales and Programming, Canyon Ranch, Molly Anderson currently oversees the sales, central reservations and programming functions for Canyon Ranch. Dedicated to partnering with clients to find solutions that deliver on wellness intentions for leisure travel and corporate retreats, Molly is always looking for new and innovative programming and was instrumental in the creation and launch of the Canyon Ranch Wellness Retreat concept in Woodside, CA. Prior to joining Canyon Ranch, Molly was Regional Director of Catering and Conference Services for Loews hotels.

9:15 – 10:15 am: New developments (trends, challenges & opportunities) as the industry recovers 

Joyce Kiehl is the Director of Communications of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, the destination management organization for the Coachella Valley, serving nine cities. Kiehl leads a team responsible for all public, media and film-industry relations for the region. A native of California, Kiehl joined the CVB in 2009. Prior to that, she worked as entertainment publicist for KRON-TV in San Francisco. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in International Relations and Economics. 

Rebecca Platt, the Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing at SunSwept Resorts, has worked in sales, marketing, and strategic leadership roles in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. Working across the globe has given her a wealth of experience in the luxury hospitality market as well as extensive sales, public relations, marketing, analytical and digital knowledge. 

 Over the last four years, Kathryn Schutz, President of Chicago-based Kathryn Theodore Travel and an independent consultant with Largay Travel, has melded her two passions – travel and wellness – into a profession. She believes that self-care on a regular basis is crucial and that a true wellness vacation can help. Even though everyone’s path to wellness is different, Kathryn introduces her clients to the many different aspects of wellness travel which can include stress reduction, sleep therapy, physical activity of many types, spiritual connections, food education, and much more. 

Rachael Colacino, Marketing Director, Skyterra Wellness began her career as a newspaper journalist and built her marketing experience across several different industries. She is the former television host of InfoSource on community television in western Massachusetts, and is the current co-host of Skyterra’s podcast, Inspired Intentions. Rachael is also a lifelong runner and the founder and owner of Rachael’s Runners. She has coached hundreds of endurance athletes worldwide, of all ages and abilities. Her WHY for coaching is to help as many people as possible run strong and healthy, so they can continue doing what they love for as long as possible.

10:15 – 10:30 am:  Q & A + Tell us what new trends and challenges YOU are witnessing as the industry recovers.

10:30 – 11:15 am:  Opening up to diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility of wellness travel

Jackie Roby, CEO of Inspired Journey Consulting is a sales solution strategist & brand ambassador. She hosts the podcast Through Inspired Eyes, has 19 years of travel & hospitality sales experience, and is an advocate of diversity equity inclusion (DEI). Jackie helps her clients stand out as “authentic wellness” to reach their ideal guests while embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Mytecia R. Myles, a strategic communications executive, diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, aesthetician, certified authenticity coach, and nutritional wellness speaker, has consulted with thought leaders and top brands on how to influence success and cultivate corporate wellness. Her company, Supernatural Success, LLC., a PR and communications consulting firm, specializes in the beauty, spa and wellness industries. Supernatural Success provides natural health & nutritional wellness strategies for PR, communications, beauty, spa, and wellness professionals.

11:15 – Noon:  Medical Wellness: What suppliers and agents need to know  

Dr. Yvette McQueen is a global physician on a mission to educate about health, travel wellness, and disease prevention. She is an Emergency Medicine physician and Travel Doctor, working as a physician across the US and the Caribbean. Dr. McQueen also serves as a travel group physician ensuring healthy and safe travel of the clients before and during their international trips. She is also a best-selling author, speaker, blogger, consultant, CPR, and First Aid instructor including wilderness emergency care training and international teaching for the American Heart Association. She has traveled to 40+ countries, organizes medical missions to Africa, hospital training/teaching in Rwanda and Tanzania, and participates in international church missions. She is also a member of the WTA Board of Directors.

Ross Bloom is the co-founder of the Biostation, an anti-aging and medical wellness company. As co-founder, he fulfilled his passion for helping others transform their lives through healthy living by elevating the Biostation into one of South Florida’s most prominent anti-aging and medical wellness practices, as well as one of the leading providers for hormone replacement therapy. His vision has led to extensive growth and expansion for the practice, with one location in 2013 to a total of seven in 2021 and others on the horizon. After studying finance at the University of Colorado, Ross worked in the finance industry for many years. 

Samm Pryce, NMD is a licensed Concierge Naturopathic Physician with a particular expertise in the areas of blood type science and the Blood Type Diet and how this integrates into the field of epigenetics and nutrigenomics. Through in-office appointments and tele-medicine, she helps patients lead more balanced, healthier lives by getting to the root cause of their challenges. She is also a best-selling author, an international speaker and wellness retreat producer and sleep medicine expert. Dr. Samm is also the Chief Medical Officer for Balanced Integration, PLLC, where she bridges alternative and conventional medicine using the best of science and empirical evidence to transform illness into wellness

Dr. Judi Shaw is a board-certified internal medicine global physician with 30 years of clinical and management experience. She has a particular interest in the delivery of integrated healthcare models focusing on bi-directional relationship of health & Wellness with culture and cultural assimilation. She is fluent in Spanish, extensively traveled, and is well versed in the health care markets of the United States, Caribbean in Latin America. 

Noon – 1:00 pm: Break for lunch

1:00 – 1:15 pm: How LIVE Probiotics and the Microbiome fit into Wellness

Maria Beck is the Director of Strategic Development for Dakota Biotech, LLC,  the leaders in live probiotic technology. With nearly 30 years as a licensed aesthetician, entrepreneur, health industry sales professional and former fitness instructor, Maria has a hands-on passion for beauty, health, nutrition and promoting all-around wellness. 

One lucky attendee of this session will win a gift pack of The LaFlore® Collection – total value $460.

1:15 – 2:00 pm:  Post-Covid customer service/ Attracting new hires and working around staffing shortages

Carol Stratford is a Partner at Hutchinson Consulting, best known as hospitality recruitment experts. Their proprietary database contains top-level hotel, resort, spa, health, and wellness leaders. Carol is best known for analyzing trends and forecasting sales to develop long-term strategies, key objectives, and operational execution plans based on business best practices, as well as maximum growth and profitability, Carol has worked with a number of hospitality brands including Lake Lanier Islands Resorts, Stone Mountain Park, Doral Resort & Spa, Marriott Harbor Beach, The Homestead Resort, Miraval Resort & Spa, Hilton Head Health, Green Mountain at Fox Run, The Oaks at Ojai, Four Seasons Lanai and others.

2:00 – 2:20 pm: Advice and insights from an industry veteran

Co-owner of New Life Hiking Spa, one of America’s award-winning wellness retreats, Kathleen LeSage talks about what she has learned in her 20 plus years with New Life Hiking Spa, and what she’s taking with her as she launches her next wellness business. A certified health coach, author of God’s Plan for Wellness, published in 2018, and a bronze medal winner in the 2019 Illumination Book Awards. Prior to joining New Life Hiking Spa, Kathleen worked in marketing and public relations with companies including Marriott International, Marriott Senior Living Services, Woodward & Lothrop, and former U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings. Kathleen’s new business is Wellness 50 Plus, a wellness consulting company geared to individuals age fifty plus.

2:30 – 3:30 pm:  Annual General Meeting – For WTA Members/Partners Only

Thursday, September 30th

9:00 – 10:00 am:  An in-depth look at the 2021 Wellness Travel Consumer Survey

Danny Kessler is an Assistant Professor at Dongseo University, International College in Busan, South Korea. He has a Ph.D. in Wellness Tourism from Youngsan University and is the founder of the Workplace Wellness Research Society. The author of two books currently lives in Busan and conducts research for the South Korean Government, while also working as a Research Associate with the Wellness Tourism Association on various projects.

The survey was conducted with the kind support of WTA Partner WeTravel, here to point out what results from the survey they are actually witnessing from bookings on their platform.

Keri Pfeiffer has been in the travel industry for 4+ years working as the Head of Account Management for WeTravel, an online payment and booking platform for wellness & travel companies. At WeTravel, Keri has consulted with hundreds of businesses to scale up their operations using technology. Additionally, she is a certified yoga teacher & has traveled to more than 50 countries as a digital nomad.

10:00 – 10:45 am:  How travel agents/advisors and suppliers can best protect themselves from legal issues as travel resumes.  

For close to 30 years, Connecticut-based Jeffrey Ment has provided legal representation to companies and individuals in the tourism industry, with clients spanning the globe and many in the wellness space. His experience ranges from helping form new companies to defending lawsuits. His focus is ensuring that clients are always ahead of the curve – following best practices. This includes risk management, regulatory compliance, seller of travel registration, IATA/ARC issues, vendor selection, tour director training, and insurance coverage. As a former travel advisor, airline sales manager and tour guide, he relies on personal experience to deliver best legal practices for DMOs, suppliers, and agents as travel resumes.

10:45 – 11:15:   How to work with retreat leaders

Retreat leader Devon Combs is the founder of Colorado-based Unbridled Retreats and leader of the award-winning Unbridled Retreat™ for women. She is a globally recognized Equine Gestalt Coach, inspirational speaker, and contributing author in the Amazon bestseller, Speaking Your Truth: Courageous Stories from Inspiring Women. Named “Equestrian of the Wellness World” by Canyon Ranch Resort in Arizona, Devon works with hotels and resorts helping them create specialized retreats for women.

Tammy Petersen is a seasoned communications professional with over two decades running her own public relations firm specializing in the luxury hospitality and wellness sectors.  As the Founder/CEO of Chicago-based Wellness Marketing Ltd. Tammy strengths lie with strategy, business development, project and account management, budgeting, financing and managing and developing wellness and marketing programs. Her biggest assets lie in her client relationships and developing solutions to increase sales for her luxury resort clients. Tammy is also the Business Development Director for the digital publication LA Yoga. 

11:15 – Noon: How to develop a marketing plan & digital strategy to reach the Wellness-Minded Traveler

Bibi Mukherjee launched Curve Trends in 2009 when digital marketing was in its infancy. Since then, Curve Trends has evolved into a leading digital marketing agency focusing on a multi-channel mix of digital efforts, including brand development, social engagement, and digital advertising.  In this session, Bibi will discuss (regardless of marketing budget) how to blend a data-driven creative marketing strategy, strike an effective balance, and deliver a comprehensive behavior-based marketing plan that ultimately drives brand growth with a targeted audience.  Bibi is also co-owner of the active wellness travel company, Sojourn Bicycling Vacations, a WTA Member.

Noon – 1:00 pm: Open Round-the-Table Discussion for all attendees who would like to participate.