Top 5 Massage Therapy Conventions

It’s an exciting time to be working in the field of massage therapy, and there are so many opportunities for therapists to touch the lives of their clients in positive and healing ways. Conventions help professionals in all industries learn about new advancements in their fields and connect with others to share experiences and collaborate on new and promising projects. In the massage therapy industry, conventions offer professionals the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge in order to improve their clients’ quality of life.

These conventions are also a place for massage therapists to rejuvenate themselves, find new inspiration, and remember why they were so passionate about entering the field in the first place. They provide opportunities to learn new techniques, get fired up about their practice, and make memories that last a lifetime.

It’s easy to see why anyone who has an interest in massage therapy would benefit from attending one of the many conferences that are held all over the country and around the world each year. Here are a few of the best ones to check out in 2016!

Florida Massage Convention and Trade Show

June 23-26 – Orlando, Florida

Orlando is always a popular destination for conference crowds, and the Florida Massage Convention and Trade Show is taking place at the Caribe Royale All Suites Hotel and Convention Center on June 23-26 this year. It’s hosted by the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and draws massage therapists from all over the world to learn about modalities from top educators in the industry. The trade show here is also a great place to shop for cutting-edge massage products.

If you’re just starting out in the massage therapy business, don’t miss the Successful Start event, which will provide all the contacts you need to get your practice off the ground. Continuing education classes are taught by an outstanding lineup of presenters, including Bruce Baltz, Debbie Roberts, Antoine Chevalier, Don McCann, and many more.

Some of the most popular classes that you can attend at this conference include Orthopedic Massage for Complicated Shoulder Conditions, Cranial/Structural Therapy for Treatment of Headaches, and Thai Foot Massage. Other techniques in focus include Jin Shin Jyustu, neuromechanical therapy, sports therapy, kinesiology taping, cranial release technique, vacuum therapies, medicupping therapy, and postural stability. When you attend this conference, you can also learn about the practical and business aspects of running a massage therapy business, including adult CPR and first aid, marketing and promotion, modernization of the scope of practice, and insurance billing.

Most conference attendees stay at the Caribe Royal All Suites Hotel, which is where all the events are held, to make transportation easy and convenient. The hotel and convention center are located at 8101 World Center Drive in Orlando. Hotel guests get free self-parking, free Wi-Fi internet access, a waived resort fee, and suite accommodations. And you can take your pick from a standard suite with two queen size beds, a standard suite with one king size bed, or a deluxe suite with a king size bed. A couple nice perks of the deluxe suite are an in-room Jacuzzi tub and an office desk.

On Friday night, there’s a big party where all 19 chapters get together to throw an unforgettable bash. And then the Saturday banquet is a more formal affair where awards are announced to honor successful and inspirational professionals.

There are lots of things to see and do in the Orlando area in the evenings after the conference events are over, or even for a few extra days to combine business with pleasure on your trip. Some of the top attractions in the city that you might want to make time for are the Disney World theme parks, SeaWorld, Gatorland, the Tiffany glass collection at the American Art Museum, and the Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens.

Face & Body N California Spa Conference & Expo

August 20-22 – San Jose, California

Face and Body Spa Conference and Expo PosterHead to San Jose, California this August to check out Face & Body’s Northern California Spa Conference and Expo at the McEnery Convention Center. This annual conference is designed for massage therapists, as well as skin care and other types of wellness professionals who are interested in learning more about spa products, treatments, and science to enhance their careers and professional lives.

The conference kicks off on Friday, August 19 with an invite-only MediSpa Exchange, and then registration begins at 8:00 am on Saturday, August 20. Don’t miss the advanced education networking luncheon that day, and then be sure to check out the expo hall on Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Monday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Supplier classes are also a big part of this conference, and the massage classes cover healing methods with Reiki, gemstones, and AromaTouch Technique, as well as facial tension practices and marketing strategies.

These are the types of spa professionals who would benefit from attending this conference:

  • Skin care facility owners
  • Directors & managers
  • Estheticians
  • Massage therapists
  • Medical practitioners
  • Plastic surgeons
  • Dermatologists
  • Medical esthetics professionals

Skin Inc./Face & Body has booked some amazing speakers this year, including Holly Amson, Joanne Berry, Sonia Boghosian, Michele Corley, and many more. You can learn about all the California speakers and the classes they are teaching on the conference website.

If you’re traveling to San Jose from out of town to attend the conference, there are a few good hotel options nearby that are available to conference attendees. Face & Body partnered up with EventSphere to coordinate housing for the 2016 event to provide convenient accommodations that are within walking distance of the convention venue. Guests can stay at the Hilton San Jose on Almaden Boulevard or the San Jose Marriott on Market Street, both of which are connected to the convention center and average about $169 per night. Another option is the West San Jose, which is on Market Street and only a block from the convention center, and it averages about $165 per night.

August is a wonderful time to visit the city of San Jose, and there are so many things to do here after your conference days to make a full weekend experience out of your conference trip. If you have time, try to check out the Lick Observatory, Alum Rock Park, Santana Row, and Lake Cunningham Park. The closest airport to fly into is the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, which is one of the most accessible airports in the Bay Area and about three miles from downtown.

ISPA Conference & Expo

September 13-15 – Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is another huge convention town, so it should come as no surprise that one of the biggest massage therapy conventions this year is taking place here. The International Spa Association (ISPA) Conference and Expo is happening September 13-15 at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino to bring together professionals from all sectors of the spa industry in one exciting location. Last year, the event hosted 220 companies presenting the latest and greatest spa products on the market.

This year’s two keynote speakers are Brene Brown (@BreneBrown on Twitter) on Tuesday and Simon Sinek on Thursday (@simonsinek on Twitter). Throughout the conference, speakers will discuss important topics like customer service and management to spa business strategies. You can find the daily schedule on the conference website.

Don’t miss out on the professional development sessions, expo, and live auction, which takes place on Wednesday at 5:00 pm. Through the ISPA Foundation, you can help raise money for important causes, such as educational resources and consumer research.

Getting to and from the conference is easy when you stay at the Venetian, and attendees staying in the ISPA Room Block at The Venetian or The Palazzo are eligible to receive nightly ISPA Room Drops. When you stay at the Venetian, you’ll also get a 20 percent discount at the Canyon Ranch Spa Club, access to the fitness center, and have over 38 restaurant options to choose from. Conference-goers should be award that “hotel pirates” are often present in the conference community, so don’t be fooled by false offers that sound too good to be true.

The conference wraps up with a farewell party at TAO Law Vegas and is sure to be a night to remember! Of course, there’s plenty to see and do on The Strip while you’re in Vegas, but if you have a few extra days, you might want to explore the area a bit more too. Fun non-casino options in Vegas include pool parties, hiking at Red Rock Canyon, free live concerts on Freemont Street, browsing famous pawn shops, and getting behind the wheel at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Canadian Massage Conference

September 29-October 2 – Burlington, Ontario

Who says that you can’t travel internationally to develop your massage therapy skills and make connections that transcend borders? The Canadian Massage Conference is hosted by One Concept. All integrative health professionals are welcome to attend this conference to listen to world-renowned educators speak about industry trends and explore the trade show floor to learn about new and exciting products. Massage Therapists, chiropractors, spa professionals, fitness experts, and holistic health practitioners are especially encouraged to attend.

This year’s conference will be held at the Holiday Inn Burlington Hotel & Conference Centre, which is located at 3063 South Service Road in Burlington. This was actually the site of the inaugural Ontario Massage Conference back in 2008. You can register for a 4-day unlimited Platinum Access Pass, a 3-day unlimited Gold Access Pass, a 1-day Silver Access Pass, or a 1-day limited Bronze Access Pass. There’s also a free student day and a free educator day that you can register for.

This is also a great conference to check out for information on continuing education and employment opportunities. Certificate education courses that you can sign up for include integrated manual therapy to eliminate multiple nerve crush phenomena and Lotus Palm Thai-style food reflexology and massage.

Like many massage therapy conferences, the fun social events are a big part of why they’re so popular. One Concept hosts a Facebook Meet & Greet themed party, which is a networking event that allows colleagues to mix and mingle in a relaxed and fun environment. Some of the previous year’s themes have been pirates, disco, and super heroes. Just head to the side of the hotel on Friday evening to join the fun!

If you stay at the Holiday Inn to make getting to conference events a breeze, you can dine in the hotel’s new restaurant, the Alloro Restaurant & Bar, which is just off the main lobby for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers a diverse and delicious menu. You can also take advantage of the largest hotel indoor pool in the city, whirlpool, sauna, tennis court, and basketball court. There are lots of fun things to do in the Burlington area in the fall, such as live horse racing at Flamboro Downs, watching performances at the new Burlington Performing Arts Center, and touring the Niagara wineries.

AMTA 2016 National Convention

October 26-29 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin  

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is one of the leading sources in America for education and resources about the massage therapy industry. This year, AMTA’s national convention takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin between October 26 and 29. During these days, you can expect to get educated, get inspired, and network with some of the most influential and intriguing players in the business. The conference will be at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center at 509 W. Wisconsin Avenue and available for attendees at a rate of $159.

Robin Roberts is the key note speaker and will be taking the stage at the Milwaukee Theater on Kilbourn Avenue at 9:00 am on Thursday. Robin is an anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America and a legendary athlete who survived cancer with the power of massage therapy. She announced that she was undergoing breast cancer treatment in 2007 and has been an outspoken advocate for breast cancer awareness, early detection, and the role of massage therapy in her health and wellness regimen

Continuing education sessions will be held at the convention, as well as workshops about topics like muscle-specific deep tissue techniques for the posterior, lateral and anterior neck, hospital-based massage therapy, and advanced myofascial techniques for sciatic pain. You can also learn about corrective bodywork, ethics for massage therapists, talking to clients about skin cancer, therapist malpractice, and marketing strategies. The closing session is called Bringing Home the Gold and will feature the stories of Olympians who have benefited from massage therapy in their athletic endeavors. Dr. Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic will moderate a panel of elite and inspiring Olympic athletes, including Bonnie Blair, Kerri Strug, Abby Wambach, and David Randall.

In addition to the regularly scheduled convention events, attendees can also participate in a dinner and dance on Saturday night, a teachers networking luncheon on Friday, the exhibit hall, and the Wisconsin Chapter Spooktacular Costume Party to celebrate Halloween on Friday. Attendees interested in research can attend sessions about massage therapy and pain and hear about the latest promising research being conducted in the field today.

This hotel and conference center is situated in a beautiful location along Lake Michigan, near some top-notch restaurants, and full of Midwestern charm. If you’re traveling to Milwaukee from out of town, keep in mind that AMTA members can discounts on airfare and car rentals through Association Travel Concepts. The closest airport is General Mitchell International Airport, which is a 20-minute drive from the convention center.

If you have some extra time to venture outside the hotel and explore Milwaukee, make a point to tour some of the city’s famous craft breweries and sample some homemade Wisconsin cheese. The Milwaukee Art Museum and the Harley Davidson Museum are worth a visit, and there some excellent German restaurants around town that specialize in traditional foods perfected by German immigrants who settled here many years ago.

Preparing for Your Massage Therapy Conference

But no matter which massage therapy conference you choose to attend this year, it’s important to be prepared for your conference in advance so that you know what to expect and don’t miss out on any essential events. Make sure to register for the conference and specific sessions that you are most interested in well in advance, because popular workshops tend to fill up quickly.

Whether you decide to attend a conference close to home or travel to another city to broaden your horizons and explore a new place, there are many amazing opportunities for massage therapists in all specializations. So dress to impress, practice your best networking skills, and remember to have fun and embrace being part of this exciting community!