Ms. Fenard

Spas, Health & Fitness

Identifying the Ideal Software for Your Spa

By Elaine Fenard, Partner & Chief Operating Officer, Europe and U.S., Spatality

During the past few years, technological advances in the spa industry have grown tremendously, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the spa-dedicated enterprise or POS application arena. In the past, hotel spas were often expected to use the POS system of the hotel, truly limiting the operational efficiencies and marketing opportunities of the spa-not because the systems weren't good, but rather because they weren't created for the spa business; they were created for hotels. Today, however, there are a number of good options for spa software that optimize daily spa operations and also integrate into the hotel's existing software system.

There are several factors one should consider before choosing a spa system. The typical list we frequently consider for spas we manage includes:

Let's take a closer look at each of these categories.

System Type

First, there is system type, and there really are just two: Traditional and online. Most traditional systems require the purchase of hardware in the form of POS terminals and software, yet the system itself lives on-site and is usually owned by the operator or property owner. The online type is based on the application service provider model, commonly known as an ASP. ASPs essentially "rent" their platforms via a fee based on, usually, a monthly amount or an amount tied into system usage or revenue. The ASP system is provided via the web and is housed and server-managed offsite. The well known ASP Salesforce.com is a good example of this.

Costs

As with most choices, there are upsides and downsides to each type. With the traditional system, the upsides include ownership of the equipment and software license while the downsides are higher upfront costs because said equipment and software must be purchased. In addition, the spa likely will pay more for IT consulting to help with the set-up and integration of the new system into the hotel's system.

With the ASP model, the upsides are clear: lower upfront costs because no equipment has to be purchased. However, the ongoing costs are higher because the spa is going to pay a percentage of each sale to the ASP. In addition, since the ASP model is delivered via the internet, it is important to have a dependable internet connection.

Integration

Integration is another important factor to consider. Make sure the spa system you are investigating is able to interface with the property's management system. Attempting to use the existing property management system as the primary spa system is a mistake for which the spa, hotel, or both will pay for later in terms of customer dissatisfaction and operational inefficiencies. The benefit of a spa-specific system far outweighs the cost of implementation.

Reservations-scheduling

We also look at a system's capabilities in reservation scheduling and online booking. Some of the best systems, both traditional and ASP models, offer this capability. Your system should allow reservations to be scheduled and managed by-therapist as well as by-room to ensure overutilization does not occur. This function also should allow the operator to run utilization reports to help facilitate appropriate yield management. The system should allow for reservations to be made via the spa's website as well, and then it should synchronize back to the system itself to keep the appointment book always up to date in real time. The best spa systems should have reservation capabilities like that of the hospitality or airline industries.

Reporting Options

The reporting capability of a spa software system is perhaps one of the most critical factors in choosing the best fit for a particular location. An efficiently managed spa will look at pertinent reports that detail, for example, utilization, revenue by treatment, revenue by therapist, retail revenue, profit margins, commissions, payroll and specific metrics needed for reviews and evaluations. Furthermore, be sure the system can track and report marketing data such as how the guest heard about the spa and what offer he or she is redeeming. The best systems allow for a host of report customization so that the spa manager can tailor the data needed to fit the business metrics set forth in the business and marketing plans.

Marketing Functions

Marketing functions such as customer relationship management (CRM) is another important element to consider. Make sure the system includes CRM features such as memberships, points and rewards programs as well as capabilities of gathering and storing detailed geographic and demographic data of guests. The ability to manage the pre- and post-visit documentation on guests helps ensure that their return visits are memorable. The spa manager also should have the ability to use the system to organize and cross-tab current and past guest data, such as usage frequency, demographics and geographics for mailings, email blasts and more.

The best spa platforms that we have experienced recently include the traditional system from Harms Software called Millennium SpaFolio. Our managers have used this software often and have grown to appreciate its reporting and reservations capabilities. Another excellent choice is SpaBooker. SpaBooker is an ASP system that, while fairly new to the market, was created by SpaFinder. SpaFinder is one of the world's most recognized spa marketing and media companiesand certainly knows the trials of operating a spa efficiently. To be sure, the cross marketing opportunities for spas that use SpaBooker are immense. But again, the internet connection issue should be considered here.

While there are a myriad of options that vary in cost and capability, the bottom line is this: for a spa to truly be an efficient business, it must move away from a paper system and into an electronic one.

Do the homework, discover what's out there, and ask not only for a demo, but perhaps even a trial. If you have IT people at your disposal, make sure they are part of the discussion as well. Work with the property's sales and marketing teams to find out what sort of data their systems track to give you additional ideas of what to ask for. And, finally, don't be afraid to ask lots of questions. Spa software companies are surely used to it by now.

Elaine Fenard is an integral partner in Spa Strategy, one of the world's leading spa consulting and design firms. Joining in the Spa Strategy quest to create innovative and profitable spas, Elaine brought to the team more than 25 years experience in spa development and operations with one of the world's largest hotel companies and the leading international spa operations company. As an industry pioneer and recognized expert, Elaine is a frequent speaker at many conferences, and is a regular guest speaker at Cornell University. Ms. Fenard can be contacted at 303-573-8100 or Elaine@spastategy.com 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:

JANUARY: Mobile Technology: A Permanent Sense of Immediacy

Alastair Cush

A growing number of properties are implementing mobile access guest room locking systems and the apps that support them. Many chain standards mandate mobile access and independents are joining the trend. What few operators understand is that mobile access implementation has changed not only every aspect of hotel door locks but also many other areas of hospitality operations. More people are actively involved in the decision making process for hotel locks than before. Mobile access has integrated the lock process with numerous property and chain departments from sales to guest loyalty and brand marketing. The original purpose of improving guest door locks was exclusively loss prevention and security. READ MORE

Jim Vandevender

Meeting data and technology have evolved considerably since the days of the bulky ,expensive mail ordered meeting planner guides and hotel catalogues. The ways in which hotels find and book groups is far different than the antiquated methods of not so long ago. As better technology surrounding meetings and events becomes available , hotels appetites for group business seems to also increase at a parallel pace making the need to keep the related technology evolving even more paramount. The companies that provide hotels with this meeting intelligence are continually developing new and more advanced methods of gathering this sought after data to keep up pace with the demand. READ MORE

Dave Weinstein

As with so many industries, the smartphone has transformed how organizations interact with their customers. Look at the automotive industry, the airline industry, and of course, the hospitality industry. You start your car’s engine and set the climate control to the desired temperature, buy airline tickets and check-in on your flight and do the same with your hotel room, all from your phone. There is a slew of services that traditionally are offered by hotels via the “book” on the desk. The book is still there, but some hotels allow you to order via the television while others offer integrated tablets. READ MORE

Kacey Butcher

Can you imagine your bank choosing not to provide a way to check account status and transactions outside of your monthly paper statement? Can you further imagine a popular franchise restaurant only having paper take-out menus? You would be forced to contemplate what other aspects internally within the organization would make doing business with them complicated and archaic. There you find your own personal underlying immediate expectation of baseline service and operational procedures, where a decision is often made instantly to move onto the next provider. A decision to choose another provider that seemingly knows how to service customers with the utmost up-to-date standards. READ MORE

Coming Up In The February Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Social Media: Interacting with the Hotel Customer
Consider these astonishing numbers: 1.49 billion active monthly Facebook users. 1.1 billion active monthly YouTube users. 320 million active monthly Twitter users and nearly 400 million registered users on LinkedIn. 400 million active monthly Instagram users and 200 million active Google+ users. The power and reach of social media is an awesome force and it has transformed how hotels interact with their customers. In the past year, social media advertising spending increased 33.5% to nearly $24 billion dollars. Social networks are being utilized by hotels to reach more visitors, expand brand awareness, enhance brand reputation and to establish more direct and personal communication with their customers. Savvy hotel operators are adopting a comprehensive social media strategy, and there are several emerging trends to note. Video continues to be a powerful and influential element in social media marketing, with 70% of companies saying that it is their most effective marketing tool. Video generates a 62% higher engagement rate than photographs alone, and with new social sites like Meerkat and Periscope which offer live video streaming, those numbers will only increase. Sponsored content is another growing trend. Though advertorials have been around for decades, hotels are finding new ways to maximize the visibility of their content. Some are placing sponsored content on Facebook, or on influencer blogs. Another trend is the integration of a “Buy Now” button into social media websites. Customers will be able to make purchases without ever having to leave their favorite social sites. This development is a major convenience for customers and should also be an additional revenue source for hotels. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.