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

Angie  Dobney

You’ve heard the expression - "better late than never!"... Well it appears this expression may apply to a majority of the traditional hotel industry when it comes to embracing total revenue optimization. After years of dipping its toes in the water, the hospitality industry appears ready and willing to jump headfirst into a concept that, for more than a decade now, has helped many casino-hotels take their revenues to new heights – anywhere from 5- to 15-percent increases! Below are some of the key practices of casino-hotels that are applicable for traditional hotel to incorporate- READ MORE

Kevin Robinson

Packages are valuable marketing components that increase hotel awareness, create value for the guest, and often times drive room nights over need periods. The effectiveness of the package often is dependent upon the elements associated with the overall experience as well as the price point at which the package is offered. READ MORE

Michael  Brownsdon

Capital allowances are a widely misunderstood routine tax relief that taxpayers regularly fail to maximise. An in-depth analysis of capital expenditure on property assets, including their acquisition, can yield HMRC approved reductions in tax. Poorly defined terms for plant and machinery in legislation gives rise to the undervaluing and misallocation of qualifying assets within tax computations. Reviewing historical and current capital expenditure can result in significant tax savings in current years. READ MORE

Matthew  Goulden

The battle to tilt a traveler's decision in favor of a specific brand - be it for a supplier or an intermediary - continues to get intense. The focus is on identifying a "lead" as soon as it emerges in the digital domain, and that's where travel metasearch engines are showcasing their prowess. A travel supplier such as a hotel chain or airline needs to plan astutely for real-time hotel inventory availability/ pricing, and optimize campaign, budget and bid management. Since suppliers are dealing with an increasing number of traffic generation sites, associated costs have gone up. No category is feeling this more keenly than hotels. And importantly, a large component of this expenditure is going into competing with OTAs, either via brand.com or other channels such as metasearch. This is unproductive since travel suppliers are paying multiple times for the same conversions! How much to embrace the metasearch phenomenon is a topic of debate at hotel distribution conferences such as those held by HEDNA in January and June of this year. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Hotel Sales & Marketing: The Heart of the Matter
Of all the areas of a hotel’s operation, perhaps none are as crucial, challenging and dynamic as the Sales and Marketing department. In their rapidly evolving world, change is the only constant, driven by technological innovations and the variable demands and expectations of a diverse traveling public. These professionals occupy a vast, multi-channel universe and it is incumbent on them to choose wisely when determining where and how marketing dollars are to be spent to generate revenue from all their multiple constituencies – individuals, corporate guests, groups and wholesalers. Complicated decisions are made and complex plans are devised, based on answers produced from intricate questions – What is the proper balance between Direct vs. Indirect Channel Sales? What kinds of resources are to be devoted to a comprehensive digital marketing program (website, email, social, blog, text and online advertising) on multiple channels (desktop, tablet and smart phone)? What are the elements driving local market conditions and how can local people be attracted and the local competition bested? How does an operation research, analyze and partner with group business generators, meeting planners, wholesalers, incentive travel companies, corporate travel departments, and franchise-sponsored marketing programs? How can effective sales incentive programs be implemented and how can a strategic marketing campaign be deployed? How are new sales leads prospected, qualified, sold and closed? The November Hotel Business Review will examine some of these critical issues and explore what some sales and marketing professionals are doing to address them.