Ms. Segerberg

Spas, Health & Wellness

Spa Treatment Trends: Cues from the Food Industry

By Jane Segerberg, Founder & President, Segerberg Spa Consulting, LLC

As we continue to batten down the hatches, nostalgic for good ol' economic stability and at the same time, anticipating the passing of the storm, it is perfect timing to plan for positioning at the forefront of the market when the storm passes.

Looking forward, we will examine spa treatment trends that have legs and are not just passing fads. Rising trends that have longevity and are selected for their synergy with the ambiance and philosophy of your property offer a distinctive match that strengths the appeal of your property and market.

It is fortunate that trend comparisons can be related to Food and Beverage trends since hoteliers understand F&B very while, while spas seem to be more difficult for most managers to master. By comparing spas and trends to F&B hopefully a comfort level is achieved and results in guiding your spa to higher success. From the menu combination and presentation all the way through the level of the wait staff's understanding of the menu, selling the menu and servicing the guest along with the quality of the chef's preparation and presentation of the food; there are many similarities and trends to be considered for the Spa Industry.

This article will list the trend cues that spas can adopt from the food industry including close similarities. Take note that we will go beyond treatment cues to management and demonstrate how the Spa Industry is losing net profit along with loyal guests due to a significant point of departure from one very important cue. This cue is saved for the last - - skip to the end if you like, but hopefully go back to review the other cues.

Spas and F&B - Easy similarities to adapt

Cue #1 - Eating is a necessity: Dining is not

It is understood that dining needs give pleasure and/or be interactive in order to be compelling.

Relaxing and reducing stress is a necessity: Spa-ing is notThe Spa Experience needs to be compelling and inviting. The experience delivers relaxation through its decompression areas such as water, steam sauna and contemplative areas along with opportunities to socialize withf riends, family and loved ones. Just as in the dining area, activating the senses is important along with a high level of service.

Cue #2 - Dining explains and promotes its offerings through a menu

A complicated menu confuses the guest and the menu selection becomes stressful rather than fun and playful. In addition, too many items on the menu require many items in the pantry and those with a short shelf life become a loss of food items and therefore a loss of profit.

The Spa explains and promotes its offerings through a menu. In an effort to have "the latest and greatest" just like Spa ABC, it is easy to fall into the trap of including a smorgasbord of over-the-top treatments that guests don't understand and/or have no appeal. Something that could be enjoyable to review and select becomes something that is confusing and stressful. Products for underutilized treatments are left in the back bar and cause a loss of profit.

Cue #3 - Dining guests want to be part of 'the buzz', yet have private space

Dining allows interaction, yet at the same time, private space at the table. Dining gurus are careful to be sure that 'the buzz' is apparent, but diners have the privacy of their table. Spa has become true to its roots: A place for socialization as well as private time. Like-minded people enjoy being together, yet also want their private moments for de-stressing. This trend has created the need for socialization space that can be separated from quiet, contemplative spaces.

Cue #4 - Dining often celebrates a special occasion and is now moving mainstream.

Friends, family, loved ones gather at together at restaurants to honor birthdays, anniversaries , etc. A gradual shift has occurred such that there is a celebration of food and eating culture on an everyday bases as opposed to only on special occasions. Spas are the perfect place to gather for special occasions and are also the perfect place to gather for relaxation and stress reduction on any occasion.

Spas are the perfect venue for birthdays, reunions, mother/daughter get-aways, and to re-connect with friends and loved ones. The message is clear; people feel the need to connect - provide programming for this aspect and promote it like crazy! However, an even bigger promotion is that of celebrating one's self and the fact that individuals, friends, family loved ones deserve the opportunity to relax and reduce stress - it doesn't have tobe a unique occasion to relax.

Cue #5 - F&B is an operating department of the Hotel/ResortF&B, as an operating department, is fully integrated into the DNA of the Hotel/Resort.

The Spa is an operating department within the Hotel/Resort. Just like F&B, the spa department needs to be fully integrated into the resort and promoted heavily in marketing and at all possible guest areas in the hotel/resort.

A special F&B trending cue - Authenticity

As Snoop Dog says, "You got to be who you are, when you are."It is no longer desired to go to a restaurant or spa just to say "I've been there". What is desired is the opportunity to experience authentic food or authentic spa treatments. Authenticity means that the food or the spa service is genuine, not just for show. It is more heartfelt and has a human spirit in it. Since authenticity is often hard to find, it is much appreciated and creates loyal customers when it is found.

Cue #6 - Dining is an opportunity to experience culture first-hand

There is a growing enthusiasm for experiencing foods and beverages from other cultures. It appears to be rooted in a quest for premium quality food experiences. The preference is for the global preparation of food, not just Taco Bell, Noodles, etc.

Spa is an opportunity to experience culture first-handCeremonies, ingredients, stories, healing culture that are real and represents the culture of the surrounding area or authentically represent the cultural theme of the spa are compelling if they are not only authenticbut also effective. Real stories of product and treatment production are fascinating, engaging and desirable.

Cue #7 - A distrust in foods that seem to come from an industrial source has emerged.

The food industry is saying 'no' to factory foods or reconstituted foods and embracing wholesome, undiluted foods with simpler ingredients. Spa guests increasingly are distrustful of highly industrialized skin and body care products. Guests are wary of overly perfumed products and products with dyes included in the ingredients. Instead, guests are reading the labels and requesting products that are made from natural ingredients, no additives and arehealthier and more efficacious. A very important management cue

Cue #8 - Successful management in the Food Industry knows the formulas for profitability

Successful management in the food industry realizes the need to appeal t the subjective judgment of consumer/guests regarding quality, gaining their attention and interest and foremost, satisfying tastes. Yet, at the same time, control the cost of food and labor.

The Spa Industry gets it - up to the labor costs. A well run food venue has excellent chefs, sous chefs and cooks along with wait staff that are intuitive and attentive. Yet, the food industry is able to keep the cost of the line staff labor pool to a sensible level in order to stay within the budget and afford the management required to ensure excellent service and quality.

The Spa Industry, on the other hand, has allowed the fees for the 'cooks' or service providers to gravitate way to out of hand. Since the Spa Industry requires one 'cook' or service provider per each guest who enters the spa, this trend causes payroll to sky rocket. The reaction within hotel/resort management has been to require the reduction of middle management along with devaluing the cost of an experienced spa director. The end result has been a decrease in service levels within spas, a subsequent decrease in spa attendance and a decrease in revenues.

Attracting guests through price reduction works for the short run but won't be effective for the sustainable marathon. In conversation, the issue ofthe hours in schooling for service providers as compared to the hours required for culinary and engineering professionals is often raised to support reducing service provider fees. Regardless of the training hours, the most important issue is the effect on the Spa Industry. With the reduction in management, many Hotel and Resort Spas have become nothing more than a place to arrive for a service and leave. There are plenty of businesses cropping up that provide just that and at a lesser price.

Resort and Hotel spas are losing their 'edge' of providing a sense of place, culture and enjoyment as well as strengthening the appeal of the property. Check out your spa's payroll. When you do the math and reduce the service provider's pay by $0.50 to $2.00/treatment, you will note the dramatic results in payroll. Get your spa back on track with the budge, with leadership and with a higher level of service and real experience.

Choose the cues that work for you or follow all of the cues - - now is the time to review, revisit and re-vamp our businesses.

Jane Segerberg is founder and president of Segerberg Spa Consulting, LLC., a multi-faceted spa consulting and management company with an industry reputation for creating spas that work –they are compelling for the property’s market, attain recognition, engage guests in memorable experiences and achieve bottom line success. Over Jane’s thirty-year history in the wellness, hospitality and spa industry, she has become recognized for providing outstanding service and keen attention to detail. For company information please view Ms. Segerberg can be contacted at 912-222-1518 or Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

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