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:

OCTOBER: New Developments and Best Practices on Maximizing Revenue Management

Breffni Noone

In this era of “big data” revenue managers have access to more data than ever before. However, before rushing to add yet another data source into the mix, revenue managers need to critically evaluate its capacity to provide incremental value over and above existing data sources. They also need to need to carefully consider the level at which to leverage that data source, whether for tactical pricing decisions, or as a support for more strategic revenue management-related decisions. In this article, I take a look at some of the new data sources that are receiving attention in the hotel industry, and use them to demonstrate that “more” may not always be better. READ MORE

Jesse  Ostrum

Information is the currency of all organizations. How you handle access to that information within your organization is what determines if you are an innovative leader in your industry or simply another member. Initiating a Revenue Management culture that provides free-flowing information across departmental lines is the key. Data, information and knowledge can no longer be kept isolated by department and used on a “need to know” basis. Marketing, Sales, Operations, Guest Services…all elements of hospitality are tied together and Revenue Management can work with all departments to better guide the organization through the ever changing competitive landscape. READ MORE

David Hogan

As our world becomes more and more connected, the terms used to describe “Cloud-Based” computing seem to blur into abstraction. In this article, I'll clarify the terms "Cloud computing" versus "Software as a Service," often referred to as SaaS. In some ways, it's like describing two sides of the same coin. However, there are some clear distinctions, along with risks and rewards, to keep in mind. So… what is the difference between Cloud Computing and SaaS? Is there a difference? READ MORE

Paul  van Meerendonk

To say that the world has changed in the past ten years is an understatement. A decade ago, mobile phones were still primarily used to make phone calls, a ‘tablet’ was something you took for a headache and ‘TripAdvisor’ was only in its infancy. Even more dramatic is the change we’ve seen in how hotel rooms are booked: from traditional channels to online travel agencies to making reservations from the palm of your hand. Armed with more options for booking and research than ever before, plus the ability to share their experiences in real-time; consumers are in control and it’s crucially important to attract the right guest at the right time for the best rate. READ MORE

Coming Up In The December Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Hotel Law: The Biggest Challenges
Given the size and scope of the international hotel industry, the subject of hotel law is equally varied and vast. From development deals to management agreements; from food and beverage liability to labor and employment; from claims management to anti-trust matters; to legal concerns surrounding the issues of risk, safety and security, the practice of hotel law relies upon the expertise of many different kinds of legal specialists and practitioners. Though the subject matter is broad, there are several pending legal issues which will loom large in 2014 and beyond. The Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented in 2014 and its impact on hotel companies and their hiring practices is still to be determined. Other significant labor issues to be addressed include lawsuits pertaining to tip credit and tip pooling; wage-hour audits conducted by the Department of Labor: ongoing negotiations with unions involving living wage issues and the right of workers to organize; and increased pressure on hotel operations to be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. On the business side of the industry, it is expected that there will be a wave of new hotel development that will engender all the related legal issues – land acquisition, entitlements, joint ventures and other financing, selection of hotel operators and brands, along with Hotel Management and Franchise Agreements. In addition, it is projected that there will be a substantial increase in foreign investment – particularly from the Chinese. Chinese investment will involve all the normal legal issues of an investment from due diligence, acquisition and financing, but will add layers of complexity to deal with tax and other international issues involving direct foreign investment in the U.S. These critical issues and others pertaining to Hotel Law will be explored in the December issue of Hotel Business Review.