Abi Wright: Moulding Perceptions and Redefining Wellness

Entrepreneurship in its essence is a responsibility, resting upon the shoulders of those deemed fit to play the roles of a guide, an innovator, a beacon of motivation and a preacher of disruptive ideologies. This responsibility essentially builds up the foundation of an entrepreneurial career and demands ceaseless commitment, unfathomable patience and determination of the size of a mountain. Considering the significance of these traits Insights Success recognizes Abi Wright as the ideal personification of entrepreneurship, and is thus shortlisted as one of the most successful shepreneurs of 2018.

Abi is the Founder and Managing Director of Spabreaks.com. She started her career as a journalist before quickly realising that wasn’t where her skills were. She then moved into PR and marketing. After time contract negotiating in Maritime Security following 9/11, she found a happy home in spa hotels. It was there that she really began to feel there was an opportunity to change the perception of spas, and to work with them to realise their commercial potential.

Abi owned a PR agency for a few years, and then launched Spabreaks.com in 2008 with a team of three, and it has all gone from there. “Today it’s amazing to think that Spabreaks.com is not only an industry leader, particularly concerning spas and cancer, but that it’s also Europe’s largest spa booking agency,” Abi expresses.

An Avid Emphasis on Customer Satisfaction

Showcasing the amazing variety of experiences that are available, is at the heart of what Spabreaks.com is all about. Whether one’s looking for a real health and wellbeing escape to detox and address particular concerns, or fancies a romantic and indulgent mini break with plenty of champagne, Spabreaks.com is possibly the best option.

Abi has a team of really experienced product managers who work with spas to create packages that really showcase each spa’s best qualities and experiences, and through the organization’s website it offers those packages in easily identifiable categories to suit a wide variety of customers. “After all, that’s the thing about health and wellbeing – it’s for everyone,” states Abi.

According to Abi, a major part of building strategies in order to tackle competition is about knowing the industry and having a very clear vision of what she wants the company to represent, but it’s also about listening to her customers and being willing to evolve. From day one she has read every review and piece of client feedback that has come through – good, bad and indifferent, and from there she has been better able to entirely understand what they feel has been missing from their experiences. For Spabreaks.com it’s all about customer service and experience, and that’s a policy driver for the organization.

Surpassing Adversities

Abi expresses that she feels lucky that she has never experienced any direct discrimination, sexism or misogyny, all of which are appalling and have no place at work or at home. If she takes her own experiences and observations however, she thinks the biggest challenge for women in the workplace is juggling everything. She doesn’t think that we live in a world where we can pretend peoples’ work and home lives are separate any more.

As a mother, Abi has a particular set of challenges. She always remembers being told that “it’s either your work or your kids that lose out, but it’s not, it’s you.” Abi would never let her company or her children suffer because of her schedule. It’s her wellbeing and her time with friends that is sacrificed and she expresses, “We all know that if you don’t balance that out at least some of the time it, is very bad for your wellbeing.”

She asserts that she has always tried to treat employees as individuals and make sure she has good relationships with her team, so she knows when someone needs extra support. She tries to facilitate flexibility wherever possible, and in recent years she has been able to enshrine that in an organizational policy a bit more. Abi thinks for everyone, including women, the challenge of having a healthy work/life balance is really tricky, but she thinks her organization is doing something right because, 90% of its senior management executives are women, who have grown through the company and the company has seen them through births, deaths and everything in between.

The ongoing challenge for Abi has been to change the perception that spas are just about beauty and are just for women, and to highlight their importance for wellness as well. Spabreaks.com has done a lot to change that over the years but still continues to be an ongoing challenge. There are also some age old issues in the spa industry that the organization has been really adamant about changing. In particular the attitude towards anyone with or recovering from cancer has been an industry wide issue that it is working on with other industry leaders – that’s really all about education and understanding. Abi comprehends that the same applies really to any other serious health condition. The team at Spabreaks.com has done a lot of work to open up the spa industry to anyone who has previously felt marginalized, but have also realised that things don’t change overnight.

Setting a Benchmark

Asserting upon the ideal question of what an entrepreneur’s perspective should be, Abi States, “I think it’s a combination of knowing your market, surrounding yourself with good people and trusting your gut.” When Abi first started Spabreaks.com the Groupon/discount code model was in full swing and her organization was in the middle of recession. “Everyone thought I was mad starting a business that was essentially a luxury product, but I knew the industry, I knew what I envisaged for it and why it was different, and I backed that up by surrounding myself with people who I knew were good at their jobs and who I could really trust. I think it’s probably called a strategic risk,” Abi adds.

Abi aims to continue to develop the way that spas are perceived, to widen people’s understanding that spas can heal, and to dispel the idea that it’s just about beauty. Abi wants to enhance the healing nature of spas in the UK so that they compete on the same level as European spas, educate the UK spa goers about the true European spa experience, and continue to grow Spabreaks.com’s overseas portfolio.