Ms. Minton

Spas, Health & Wellness

Hotel Spas as the Next Wave of Marketing

By Melinda Minton, Executive Director, SPAA


More than ever the theme standing behind your spa is important. Particularly for a destination or hotel spa much of the draw of interest among consumers seeking a property is the spa. Moreover, with spas becoming such a part of American culture consumers are growing tired of the average facial and massage. More than ever consumers want exotic, international, ritual-based, interesting services, products and accessories. When deciding on your theme become creative but understand the requirements of the type of theme you will invest in. For instance, if you would like to create a Turkish hammam your facility will need an authentic build out with a great deal of water therapies, appropriate products and sundries that accommodate the treatments offered. More importantly the services offered will need to be given to guests in a way that is authentic and appropriate. The degree of difficulty in training staff to perform these services thoughtfully and consistently with attention to detail could be all consuming. So while a strong brand and unique theme is crucial to the success of the spa a cost analysis is necessary to determine if the concept is possible and profitable.

Treatment Packages

Treatments are best offered at destination spas in "complete thoughts." In other words studying the needs of the guests and then translating that into pre-made packages makes for an easier up-sell. According to The Spa Association (SPAA) based in Fort Collins, Colorado female business travelers who opt for room service for evening meals would much rather have a more social and pampering experience at the spa. What an opportunity! Offering a package for the weary executive with a healthful meal would be an easy sale and an instant hit. Likewise, creating a mini vacation for those travelers who require a one or two day spa experience along with site seeing and recreational activities is a natural fit where packages are concerned. So an experiential package could be a trip around the world while at the spa like a Swedish dry brushing and sauna, a Russian body wrap, a Tuscan facial and a Thai massage. Results oriented packages are also a good idea such as a slimming weekend or a detox day. Creating opportunities for personal development at your property is yet another option. Why not offer a personal power seminar along with a detox day or a new you new year or a goddess renewal weekend? When you begin to think about it the options are endless and the opportunities are huge.

Experience Essentials

A spa day is just like a wedding. If everything isn't perfectly executed the entire experience is dead. Moreover, many consumers complain that resort spas are expensive with much worse everything. Everything being customer care, quality of treatment execution, lack of personal service; the list really goes on and on. The why of this dilemma is really another article but destination spas must offer an experience par none. So, this means consistency of delivery with a personalized touch. This also means that management needs to manage the details while handing off some power to employees to enhance the guest's experience and fix problems as they arise. Most of all many destination properties are seasonal and this is a problem. Staffing is difficult and there is a definite disconnect in many areas of spa operations because the culture sometimes is not a family. Think about it when you are being touched can't you feel that person's mood, state of mind and attitude? Your spa is not your restaurant!

Big and Pretty

While the temptation is to make your spa very Taj Mahal like understand the needs of the typical spa-goer. Right now more than ever consumers want love. They want personal -touch. Consumers want socialization and community. Spa-goers need instant bonding, a connection to reality and immediate friends not marble floors. I mean the Taj is great, impressive, white and the floors are cold...I have walked them. If you are building a 40,000 square foot spa, think about creating intimate space. Think about making your gigantic property feel more intimate. Definitely create more opportunity for that big and pretty spa to feel warm, cozy, safe and user friendly. Further, big and pretty won't help a client feel well taken care of by your staff. The real test for a client is lying down on a massage table and feeling warm, cozy and loved. That is all about operations, management and your culture. The bottom line is invest in your staff and management team before throwing money at architects and build out.

Local Opportunity

Don't forget your immediate area and the market there. Sure, oftentimes that market is not demographically as suited to support your price points or typical target market paradigm. However, your local market is a crucial component in keeping your spa together for numerous reasons. If you can keep your staff afloat during the lean times then you have more of a family-like environment and team. Your clients feel this on the massage table. It is an obvious choice to create a win/win with the local community because tourists constantly tap into other businesses in the area when planning a trip.

Hotel spas are becoming real attractions for tourists and new sources of increased revenue in the hospitality industry. Tap into your brand's potential by developing a unique brand of spa that is profitable, efficient and growth focused.

Box: Quick tips for Success

Win/Win: How did you get through college? Your employees are trying to make a better way for themselves, or just paying their bills, or they are in need of a mentor. Grow your staff! Allow your team to set goals, make decisions and be paid for successes along the way. Reward ability and shut down those who bring toxic waste land into your territory.

Creativity: How can your spa make more money? Do you go corporate with retreats to your facility for a new revenue stream? Is the opportunity in creating a more local market and demographic reach into your host city or town? What about creating an outreach that is strong enough to bring in destination spa-goers who can frequent your spa instead of traveling cross-country to do so?

Catalog: Once spa-goers leave your facility how do they purchase your signature items? Once their homecare supply runs low refilling should be as simple as online ordering or faxing in an order that is specifically tailored and ready made.

Recruit Spa-Goers: Whether at the front desk or online spa opportunities need to be advertised and appointments made. Include spa amenities as a part of a business stay or weekend package. Try seated massage in your entrance way to entice spa-goers to take the lure and book a full appointment.

Your spa is an opportunity to be grown and cultivated. Try creating opportunities for growth by broadcasting the spa to your potential guests and marketing partners. Create in room displays and sampling packages to provide the touch, taste, smell effect that is a must for creating the spa craving. Consider expanding your spa into the overall theme of your hotel. Most of all think about giving your spa the room and budget that it needs to grow. Get serious about your spa and watch your spa grow incrementally.

Ms. Minton, a spa, wellness, salon consultant, and health and beauty expert, is a past spa owner. She is a certified massage therapist, esthetician and cosmetologist. Ms. Minton has trained in business, marketing and digital media. She has consulted on spa management issues, product formulations, spa profitability and strategies. She has worked on hundreds of projects spanning from spa start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. She is the founder of The Spa Association (SPAA), a world-class organization dedicated to enriching the professional beauty industry through self-regulation, education and sound business practices. Ms. Minton is also a member of the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) and of Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW). Ms. Minton can be contacted at 970-682-6045 or Please visit for more information. Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

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

MAY: Eco-Friendly Practices: The Value of Sustainability

Eric Ricaurte

In 2011, we visited the 10 hotels contracted in the room block for the Greenbuild conference in Toronto. As part of their award-winning sustainable event program, the conference organizers embedded green practices into the contract language for these hotels, who either had to comply with the requirements, explain their reason why they couldn’t implement them, or pay a $1,000 fine. Part of our consulting work was to gather the data and confirm some of the practices on-site. READ MORE

Susan Tinnish

Hotels brands have actively engaged in large-scale efforts to become more environmentally friendly. Individual hotels have made great strides on property. Many significant large-scale eco-initiatives s are most easily built initially into the infrastructure and design of the building and surrounding areas. Given that the adaptation of these large-scale changes into the existing asset base is expensive and disruptive, hotels seek different ways to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. One way to do so is to shift the focus from large-scale change to “small wins.” Small wins can help a hotel create a culture of sustainability. READ MORE

Shannon Sentman

Utility costs are the second largest operating expense for most hotels. Successfully reducing these expenses can be a huge value-add strategy for executives. Doing this effectively requires more than just a one-time investment in efficiency upgrades. It requires ongoing visibility into a building’s performance and effectively leveraging this visibility to take action. Too often, efficiency strategies center on a one-time effort to identify opportunities with little consideration for establishing ongoing practices to better manage a building’s performance ongoing. READ MORE

Joshua Zinder, AIA

Discussions of sustainability in the hospitality industry have focused mainly on strategies at the level of energy-efficient and eco-friendly adjustments to operations and maintenance. These "tweaks" can include programs to reduce water usage, updating lighting to LEDs, campaigns to increase guest participation in recycling, and similar innovative industry initiatives. Often overlooked—not only by industry experts but even by hotel operators and designers—are possibilities for hotel design and construction that can make a property truly sustainable from the get-go. READ MORE

Coming Up In The June Online Hotel Business Review

Feature Focus
Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?
Hotels and OTAs are, by necessity, joined at the hip and locked in a symbiotic relationship that is uneasy at best. Hotels require the marketing presence that OTAs offer and of course, OTAs guest’s email when it sends guest information to a hotel, effectively allowing OTAs to maintain “ownership” of the guest. Without ready access to guest need hotel product to offer their online customers. But recently, several OTAs have decided to no longer share a data, hotels are severely constrained from marketing directly to a guest which allows them to capture repeat business – the lowest cost and highest value travelers. Hotels also require this data to effectively market to previous guests, so ownership of this data will be a significant factor as hotels and OTAs move forward. Another issue is the increasing shift to mobile travel bookings. Mobile will account for more than half of all online travel bookings next year, and 78.6% of them will use their smartphone to make those reservations. As a result, hotels must have a robust mobile marketing plan in place, which means responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology. Another important mobile marketing element is a “Click-to-Call” feature. According to a recent Google survey, 68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely/very important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase, and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.