Ms. Segerberg

Spas, Health & Wellness

Five Major Changes in the Spa Industry

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

If there is one thing that has been constant over the last twenty months, it is change. Changes are all over the map in the hospitality industry and, in the spa industry, most changes are categorically the same as hospitality and other businesses driven by world economy.

Using the understanding of these changes as springboards for repositioning and renovating current spas or developing new spas; we can pay attention to the changes and be prepared for the return swing of the pendulum and placement in the compelling forefront. Change has certainly brought about the 'tipsters', there is a tip-a-minute to be offered. However, big picture assessment is the precursor to successful strategic planning. Therefore, revealing overall major changes assists in appropriate positioning for future increased market share.

The five major changes listed may not be big surprises, however, they are notable. These changes are not passing trends or fads that will soon be past tense. These are changes that are indicative of the future.

After checking in with several esteemed professions including industry watch dogs, hospitality human resources and spa product and equipment vendors; the consensus seems to be the same for the Big Five. Below is the synopsis of change along with related strategies and planning.

NUMBER ONE: The Spa's Core Message Arises

The stress management, relaxation, preventive care message is being made clear. Stress has been identified (once again) as one of the major causes of the most common diseases. All over the world, the search for stress reduction is prolific. Spas encompass the best antidote to stress with programs of massage, acupuncture, exercise and meditation to name a few; along with quiet places to enjoy solitude or uninterrupted re-connection with family and friends.

For years, spa industry surveys of spa goers have told us that the number one reason guests seek spas is to reduce stress and to relax as well as feel better. Up to this point, the imaging and marketing of spas has been somewhat more of a representation of exotic treatments and locales. Getting to the core of the matter, spas have begun shifting their stories in different ways. Menus are simplified to reflect the main effect of each category of services with a focus on relaxation, feeling better or looking better. The frivolous media grabbing treatments are being deleted to make way for the fewer and more targeted treatments. Guests can make clearer decisions on treatments that will be beneficial for their individual needs.

In addition, the effective offering of stress reduction requires adequate relaxation spaces including lounges and amenities that offer the flexibility of spending more time at the spa before and after a treatment to increase the profoundness of treatments. Just as with all hotel spaces, having all or a wide variety of relaxation amenities does not work if they are crowded and uncomfortable. It is better to plan the spaces for serenity and leisure, even if it means reducing the variety of amenities to two or one.

Guests believe in the products and regimens suggested by spa professionals and want to take home products and regimens in order to compound the effectiveness of the time spent at the spa. Guests, however, don't decide to purchase or follow regimens on their own. The spa staff needs appropriate training by the spa and the product companies in order to be effective educators of the efficacy of the products. Partnering with product companies that offer thorough and effective training and support raises the likelihood of successfully retailing products for home routines. All product companies offer training, a few are better than the rest. When selecting products, research the candidate company's clients for their support experience.

NUMBER TWO: The Millennials Make Spa-ing a Priority

This group of 20-34 year olds now outnumbers their baby boomer parents. They have grown up in an era in which they saw preventative health information and resources take hold and they are availing themselves of the opportunities to raise their level of health and maintain extremely healthy routines. In short, they see the benefit of spa services and are flocking to spas.

The formula for reaching the millennials requires broadcasting the spa's short and to the point message through social media. Tweeting, Facebook Fanclubs and cell phone apps are the obvious vehicles.

Social media posts are the number one influence for millennial buying decisions. Millennials learn about your spa's attributes and real-time specials through these outlets. In addition, new phone apps are appearing daily. This fast moving group wants to research and close the deal as quickly as possible - there's an app for that! Check out the opportunities for your spa and capture the large millennial market.

NUMBER THREE: Value and Service Expectations

Expectations and new definitions of excellent value and service are higher and different today. Whereas consistent distinguished service and included amenities were once a point of differentiation, they are now the expected norm. Spas realize the value of attracting and keeping their guests' loyalty. With Twitter, Facebook and sites such as Travelocity broadcasting guest experiences, spas will want to capture customer feedback and make any corrections. . before it hits the airwaves. Spas are instituting guest feedback systems and encouraging responses. Guests notice and evaluate everything from cleanliness to friendliness and spas want to know their thoughts and evaluations. Guests also know what they like and appreciate the opportunity to register their preferences. Spa software systems are being utilized to document preferences from therapist to product to music.

In addition, guest loyalty and repeat visits are encouraged with more packages and rewards for continued visits. Once again, current or updated spa software systems can track visits, series purchases, gift cards and you-name-it for the delivery of a successful loyalty program.

NUMBER FOUR: Spa Economics

Spas as a luxury item are impacted at many levels by the current economy. This is a great opportunity to review pricing, staff training budgets, cross training opportunities, supervisory level positions and service provider wages. While keeping expenses down is a must, so is the creation of a memorable and repeatable guest experience. The divide here is delivery on the promise and affording the delivery.

Pricing has reached the max of what the market will bear and spas are holding pricing or reducing pricing. Since spas require a service provider per each guest, it follows that spas will re-evaluate the wage system for service providers. Many are doing just that. Unfortunately, in order to contain expenses, spas have had mandated cut backs within management and supervisory staff. The effect of these cutbacks has been dramatic both in service levels and growth of management personnel. Spas have been feeling the effects of the dearth of management resources due to the industry's rapid growth. Adding fuel to the fire, the management training ground positions have been eliminated the fallout has been that spas need better supervision at all service touchpoints in order to produce a valued spa experience.

When renovating, creating or repositioning the hotel's spa, focus on budgeting appropriately for staffing that allows a spa to deliver a quality experience from the first phone call to the spa desk, to the locker rooms, treatment and the last good bye. In addition, the design and flow of the spa's design affects line staffing levels and requirements. Planning for efficient flow saves staffing overkill.

Hotel and resort spas have are realizing the value of the local market, especially during this period of lower occupancies. Local resident spa use can be managed so as not to interfere with availability for hotel guests. The additional revenue keeps cash flow at an even keel, and, in addition, guests enjoy mixing with 'the locals' and getting 'the scoop' on the area locale.

NUMBER FIVE: Reposition, renovate or develop a spa?

In many cases, while hotel occupancies have been lower, the spa's capture rates have actually increased. What does this tell us? Those who travel realize the value of increasing their relaxation and pleasure through spa services. The appropriate spa with amenities that meet the needs of spa-goers increases the value of guests' stay.

It has been proven through numerous guest surveys that it is not the size or glamour of the spa that creates success. It is the design for the demand both in size and amenities that gains recognition. Market distinction is recognized through quality and that quality involves every aspect from the design, flow, staff service and signature elements.

In conclusion, spas are here to stay and blossom. The mid-course correction in the life of the Spa Industry is to return to its true core and at the same time be nimble to adjust to the needs, intensified values and the changing demographics of the marketplace.

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 http://www.segerbergspa.com. Ms. Segerberg can be contacted at 912-222-1518 or janesegerberg@yahoo.com Extended Bio...

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