For the first time in three years, the Hand & Stone Corporate Team, Franchisees, and Managers finally reunited! The 2022 Hand & Stone International Conference was held in beautiful San Antonio, TX from October 12th to 14th, and our team was given the opportunity to network with each other and our vendors, learn what’s to come from our brand, and grow as an essential part of our organization.
But this conference was not put together overnight – it was well over a year in the making. Jack Bachinsky, Hand & Stone’s Chief Marketing Officer, started the destination vetting process last fall, and after talking it over with John Teza, Hand & Stone’s Chief Executive Officer, they ultimately decided on San Antonio, Texas. “We’ve both visited San Antonio previously, and always enjoyed our times here,” said Bachinsky. “When planning a conference for our franchisees, I always aim to give them an experience they otherwise may not have on their own. In prior years, the entire system would really get into our themes and dress to the nines, so Día de Los Muertos really fit our vibe.”
Over the next 12 months, the conference team, consisting of veterans Jack Bachinsky & Greg Mowry and three new members, Eric Haberacker, Megan Rominecki, & Sam Tacca, held weekly meetings with hotel coordinators, convention center contacts, caterers, decorators, and vendor partners to ensure a seamless event. Before we knew it, it was time to fly down to ‘San Tone’ (a nickname from the locals).
DAY 1 – We kicked off the 2022 Hand & Stone International Conference with a Scavenger Hunt benefiting the American Cancer Society. With the help of the scavenger hunt participants, the Hand & Stone management team, and the Todd Leff Foundation, we were able to donate over $12,000 to the ACS! To end our first day, we invited all attendees to our Welcome Cocktail Reception to catch up with our Franchise Owners and Managers and meet with our amazing vendors.
DAY 2 – Our 800+ attendees met in the main convention area to listen to our executive team’s presentations, ranging from new technology innovations, where our skincare division is headed, how our operations efforts are continually growing, and more. In between speakers, we presented prestigious awards to franchisees & spas that have gone above and beyond this past year.
- Rookie of the Year: Columbus-New Albany, OH – David Burch
- Stony Award: Weston, FL – J. Paul & Sunitee Singh
- Member Achievement Award: Livingston, NJ – Ken & Jeff Silbert
- Marketing Rainmaker: Guillem Ortega
- Face Forward Award: Toms River, NJ – Nicholas Marco, Tara Bogota, and Michael Masco
- Growth Momentum Award: Sarasota, FL - Debbie & Mike Gulledge
- Community Service Award: Heather & Mark Mize
- Fast Track Award: Clovis, CA - LeeAnn & Robin Prideaux
- Customer Service Excellence Award: Warrington, PA – Maripat & Greg Mowry
- Brand Ambassador Award: James Egan
- Smoother Operator Award: Orlando Dr. Phillips, FL - Andrew Mellen & Kirk Sorenson
- Front Runner Award: Sarasota, FL - Debbie & Mike Gulledge
- Employee of the Year: Shane Kirner – Director of FP&A
- Founders Award: Debbie & Mike Gulledge
- Spa of the Year: Greensboro, NC – Eric & Christiana Anthony
- Chairman’s Award: Rob & Alicia Beers
After our awards ceremony, we were honored to have Todd Durkin, a well-known fitness trainer, previous massage therapist, and motivational speaker, present to our Hand & Stone community. All attendees left the session feeling inspired to grow with our organization and find ways to better themselves, their teams, and their spas.
After rotating through some of our interactive and informative workshops, it was time to head to the Vendor Showcase, organized by Greg Mowry. Our attendees were able to personally meet our amazing vendors, learn more about their products and how to use them in our spas, and receive a ton of free swag!
Finally, it was time to hit the famous San Antonio Riverwalk Día de Los Muertos style, sangria in hand, and make our journey to Venue Villita to celebrate all we’ve accomplished in the past year. The party was completed with street tacos, churros, margaritas, a mariachi band, flamenco dancers, stilt walkers, an awesome live band, and more. Like Jack mentioned before, our community loves a theme, so most attendees were wearing Día de Los Muertos attire (see photos for their fun looks!).
DAY 3 – On our last day together, we began the morning with a tremendous presentation by Dean Snook and Delaney Allen Mills on Cryoskin, the latest innovation that we’ve added to our service menu. Following this presentation, we had the pleasure to welcome our next guest speaker, microexpressions and body language expert and strategic advisor Annie Sarnblad. Her seminar compelled all attendees to think differently about their own facial expressions as well as the facial expressions of others in our personal and professional lives.
After Annie’s intriguing session, we hosted our newest addition to our typical conference agenda: super panels. These panels addressed topics ranging from Holiday gift card sales to what matters most to our spa managers and gave newer franchisees and managers the opportunity to ask veteran spa leaders questions.
Since we’ve been unable to host a conference for the past three years, there were plenty of first-time attendees. This is what newer franchisee, Heather Mize, had to say about her experience: “Wow...all I can say is that I am so humbled and proud to be a part of such a TOP-NOTCH and amazing brand! With over 555 spa locations across the US and Canada, the Hand & Stone team is incredible from head to toe! We have amazing, talented leadership on the corporate side and motivated, enthusiastic leaders as franchise owners and managers! To say the energy was through the roof at the conference is an understatement! It was so lovely to be together face to face to meet each other in person, to collaborate, to share, to learn, to excite, to motivate, and to grow! We were honored and humbled to win the "Community Service Award" and 3rd place for "Rookie of the Year"! The past year and a half (almost 2 years) has been a whirlwind of growth and change for our family, but I am grateful for this experience and am grateful to be in an industry where we make a difference in people's lives each and every day! We are in the health and wellness business and is it so rewarding to know that our team is here to help you achieve just that – from our lovely Spa Associates to our amazing Licensed Massage Therapists and fantastic Licensed Estheticians, we love bringing the light of health and wellness into our community!
Oh, and it wasn't just all work and no play at the conference--we had a fun team-building scavenger hunt with silly stunts we had to capture, and lots of great times getting to mix and mingle with other spa leaders. Dressing up for our Día del Muertos parade down the Riverwalk was the perfect San Antonio touch! Great job to the convention committee for putting together a fabulous event! Can't wait for next year!!”