Ms. Curtis

Spas, Health & Fitness

Identifying the 'Right' Retail Mix for Your Spa and Guest

By Nina Curtis, Founder & President, The Nile Institute

The retail mix is not a simple process of picking merchandise and putting it on the shelf, it's the culmination of factors that you will use to satisfy your guests' needs and influence their purchase decisions through your merchandise offering, promotions, and your visual merchandise display.

To begin you will need to take a snap shot of your current situation, your offering and how you go about your daily business. What does your spa look like? Does it speak of luxury, boutique, sophistication, or exclusiveness? Who is your target market? Where do they come from and what are their needs? You must know these answers to these questions like the back of your hand but let's see if you can become even more expert in understanding what your guest want and how to best offer it.

How do you choose which merchandise to offer in your spa? Merchandise management is the process by which you attempt to offer the right quantity of the right merchandise in the right place at the right time while meeting the financial goals of your company.

How many product lines do you currently offer? Two, three or five? What is your treatment offering and how do your product lines support your treatments? What special merchandise did you offer this past holiday season and how will your promotional calendar support the movement of merchandise and treatment sales throughout the rest of the year? Do you already have answers to these questions, I'm sure you do but let's think about it a bit more.

We already know that your merchandise and treatment offering is widely based on your target market and their needs so how do you score? What percentage of your guests are local compared to the percentage of vacation or business travelers that you serve? If they're traveling for business or on vacation, do you offer treatment and products as an all inclusive package? I mean do you combine a facial treatment and included in the cost the guest receives their travel size assortment of cleanser, toner, and moisturizer? Something to think about.

Most travelers do not want to buy new skin care products while traveling and not sure of how the products will really work when they return home or they have what they think they love. If you can offer your guest a complete program of treatment and products in an introductory way it may even stimulate the sell of more products as they get back to their rooms use that products and want more.

What about your body treatments, do you offer a complete package where in the guest receives her body scrub and massage and then is presented with a bath soak to use during her hotel stay and a body lotion to keep her skin moisturized and smooth. Once again all added in the cost (investment) of the total treatment package. This again may bring her back for more.

This approach makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I have witnessed time and time again where destination and hotel quest just don't think of buying skin care and body products when on vacation or during their business travel.

Some times your spa associates and therapist just don't have the time to even sell with the way they are booked and when the spa is at full occupancy, maybe your associates feel intimidated to ask a guest after their relaxing treatment if they want to buy something (we will address this in future articles). But none-the-less you still have goals and financial obligations to meet.

Retailing in the hotel spa arena and in the day spa can be different and we have to identify how you should go about approaching your uniqueness to move more more merchandise in your spa. If one hundred percent of your guest are locals then your operation is more like a day spa where you see quest on a monthly basis on average but I would dare to believe that's not the case so this is where retailing in the hotel spa environment really differs. You have a more transient clientele and you have to narrow in on their specific travel needs.

To give more thought to this take a look at your current treatment offering and identify the treatments that you can automatically combine merchandise with to create a complete package, get your vendors involved. In the wake of change in the way we travel today I am noticing more and more vendors offering introduction personal care packages for their accounts to be able to sell.

I remember a client not buying a product that I recommended because she could not carry in on the plane and she was not checking any luggage. She wanted the product for the benefits it offered her skin but she did not buy it because it did not meet 'carry on travel requirements. Think about it, how do your guest get to and from you?

You know that the merchandise you offer has been chosen for its quality and performance but now it's important to analyze the ease by which you can sell it. Accessories, travel sizes, ease of use packaging is always going to sell in the hotel spa environment because it speaks to the needs of your travel guest. It's now your job to really analyze this idea and decide to what degree can you implement all inclusive treatment and product packages? And then have individual product merchandise to move as you win your guest trust.

How do you promote what your spa offers throughout your hotel? Do you work closely with your reservations and rooms managers to insure that promotional information on the spa is available at the time a quest makes their reservations and when they check into their room? This is an integral part of your success in promoting your spa's offering. How integrated is your spa with the overall concept of your hotel? In the retail promotion aspect of the spa you must inform, persuade and remind the hotel guest that you exist. What does your six-month promotional calendar look like? Easter, Mother's Day, Beginning of Summer, Forth of July and all the other specific promotions you may be offering, how is this information being presented throughout your hotel? Yes, this is a part of managing your retail mix as you need to let guest know what you are offering in order to make sales. How soon can you schedule meetings with the appropriate managers and directors of your hotel to get your point across?

With so many things to consider, last but not least I started out by asking how does your spa look? What is your position and do you send a message that you have merchandise for sell? So often I visit hotel spas where merchandise is locked up behind beautiful glass cases more like being in a museum then an environment that encourages the guest to pick up products and get engaged. Years ago many specialty stores created the 'open to buy' concept and brought products out front and center stage instead of locked up behind counters. It's time to see if this can work effectively in the hotel spa arena. Looking like we are in the business of retailing is half the battle. The guest is already accustomed to this and picks up buying signals when retail merchandising, displays and visual aspects are presented creatively. Take a picture of your retail department and then stand back and observe the message it is sending. Yes, we have products but they are locked behind cases so you can't get them. How do you present shelf talkers (silent sales tools) to promote your products and the benefits? Do you have shelf talkers? These tent cards can walk your guest through your offering a tell an engaging story when presented properly. What products are you highlighting to support your promotional activities? If summer is approaching and you are focusing on your tanning services and 'self tanning' products how are you displaying this message throughout the hotel and spa?

With a bit of planning, organization and a consorted effort on your part you can build a winning retail mix and manage your retail depart for financial gain while delighting your guest.

Offering the 'right' retail mix will be based on your understanding of who you serve and how best to serve their needs along with support from your entire hotel management team to ensure that your message is communicated throughout your hotel community.

In future articles we will discuss getting total 'buying in' from your associates and providing them with the tools and knowledge to sell with confidence. Here's to your continued retail success!

Founder and President of the Nile Institute, Nina Curtis has worked in the personal care and spa industry for more than 25 years. She holds certifications in aromatherapy, reflexology, acupressure and color therapy and was instrumental in developing of training programs for salons and spas across the country. As principal of Curtis Communications, she consults for leading companies in the personal care industry. Ms. Curtis earned a MBA from Pepperdine University, and sees the value of learning business skills that are directly applied to the spa a nd hospitality industries. Ms. Curtis can be contacted at 310-275-6453 or curtiscomm@earthlink.net Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

JULY: Hotel Spa: Branding Around the Concept of Wellness

Cecilia Hercik

Looking back at the anecdotes from history books, spas were exceedingly popular in the Roman, Greek and Egyptian eras. Ancient philosophies preach the importance of cleansing the mind, body and spirit through connecting with Mother Earth and the world’s energy, such as “Earthing,” which promotes direct contact with the earth's electron-rich surface. The premise of Earthing is that grounding the body to the earth's surface, most commonly done walking barefoot, stabilizes natural electrical rhythms and reduces disease-causing inflammation. The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks not only practiced Earthing, but also enjoyed hot and cold water treatments, followed by aromatic massages with fragrant oils, and had herbalists and apothecaries. READ MORE

Michael Koethner

In the past few years, there has been an ever-growing, very subtle feeling of insecurity, instability, craziness up to some point of panic, when it comes to people’s daily life, personal growth and the overall economic growth. This feeling has forced humanity and societies to do things that have separated everyone and everything on a large scale with some very unpleasant outcomes. However, in the past 10 plus years this feeling has turned to the other side of the coin with an even deeper sense of urgency surfacing in each of us, to find out what this is all about, supported by a force that is seemingly coming from nowhere. This deep-seated feeling of unrest has been on the rise since the mid 40’s, and pushed aside ever since to avoid confrontation of a possible ugly truth, the truth that the life lived up until today was an illusion. READ MORE

Trent  Munday

Professor Gerard Bodeker has said that spas are the ‘organizational face of Wellness’. What he means by this is that spas provide a safe and understandable entry point into the diverse and often confusing world of Wellness. Much like a hospital is the organizational face of illness. Patients rarely know which medical specialist is the most appropriate for their specific condition. They trust that the hospital will direct them to right doctor. Spas, according to Bodeker, offer the same for Wellness. READ MORE

Maggy Dunphy

Spending time in nature is the best remedy to improve your quality and outlook on life. It also provides the simplest, most cost effective and innovative opportunities to have a positive impact on our overall well-being. Global Wellness Tourism is a $3.4 trillion business as reported by the 2013 Global Wellness Report. Dr. Deepak Chopra noted in a recent speech that, “Wellness is the number one trend in the world today.” And Ophelia Yeung, senior consultant, Center for Science, Technology & Economic Development, SRI, and one of the report’s lead researchers, argued that she only sees more growth ahead: “Prevention-challenged traditional healthcare systems, and an obesity and chronic disease crisis, are simply costing people and governments too much. READ MORE

Coming Up In The August Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Food and Beverage: Going Local
"Going local" is no longer a trend; it’s a colossal phenomenon that shows no sign of dissipating. There is a near obsession with slow, real, farm-to-table food that is organic, nutritious and locally sourced. In response, hotel chefs are creating menus that are customized to accommodate all the vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, paleo, diabetics and other diet-conscious guests who are demanding healthy alternatives to traditional restaurant fare. In addition, there is a social component to this movement. In some cases, chefs are escorting guests to local markets to select fresh ingredients and then visit a local cooking school to prepare their purchases. Other hotels are getting guests involved in gardening activities, or exploring local farms, bakeries and the shops of other culinary artisans. Part of the appeal is in knowing the story behind the food - being personally aware of the source and integrity of the product, and how it was handled. In addition to this "locavore" movement, there are other food-related developments which are becoming popular with hotel guests. Small plate and tasting-only menus are proliferating around the country. Tasting-only special event menus offer numerous benefits including guaranteed revenue per customer, reservations usually made weeks in advance, and an exciting dining option for guests to experience. Bread and butter are also getting a makeover as chefs are replacing bread baskets with boards, and replacing butter with custom-flavored spreads. One dining establishment offers a veritable smorgasbord of exotic spreads including garlic mostarda, vanilla tapenade, rosemary hummus, salsa butter, porcini oil and tomato jam, to name just a few. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will document some current trends and challenges in the food and beverage sector, and report on what various leading hotels are doing to enhance and expand this area of their business.