Hotel Spas - Staying Current, Creating Profits
By Peter Anderson Founder, Anderson & Associates | October 28, 2008
Staying current in any professional field is an on-going process that requires diligence, focus an open mind and at times an open wallet. The same innovations that result in ever-evolving technology and treatments also provide the potential to distract and confuse. There was a time, not too long ago when staying current in the North American spa industry more or less meant, keeping breast of trends in both the salon and the massage industries (In other words, the universe of knowledge of which one needed to command consisted of understanding hair, nails, makeup and knowing where the clear line of differentiation existed between a massage facility and a massage parlor). If an establishment were truly exclusive, their facials might include mud or seaweed. "Exfoliation" and "d'ecolletage" were technical words saved for the professionals.
There is a "king of the hill" mentality in the spa industry, as one modality of care or cure is embraced, incorporated or modified, another school-of-thought comes by to either challenge it or build upon it... not bad for an industry that can trace its roots back 6,000 years ago to Ayurvedic India. In short, if not managed properly, the dynamics of a rapidly escalating industry and can be dizzying for an operator who not only desires to stay current but also wants to get a good seat on the "What's Next Band Wagon". This article will address how navigate the ever-morphing scope and depth of the spa industry and in doing so maintain a competitive position.
In the fourth quarter, 2006, it was reported at the annual I-SPA convention in Las Vegas Nevada, that spa revenues had officially eclipsed golf revenues as a free standing revenue silo within the leisure and recreation industries. As hoteliers this is not just a red flag but rather a neon sign on The Follow the Money Trail. The depth of the industry continues to evolve. For instance, many spa treatments available at the ubiquitous strip-mall day spa have a comparable cousin offered at the regional resort, the experience enhanced with thicker robes, crown molding in the treatment rooms and more extensive landscaping to view from the pedicure thrones. Further, it is not uncommon to have a variation of either of the aforementioned treatments offered with a medical focus in the local medical spa. Here, points of differentiation may include stronger reagents or treatments enhance by lasers or herbs for a more lasting effect. Prescriptive retail (hand crafted in the doctor's own lab) may be the icing on the cake. This vertical growth is attributed to market segmentation where the consumer's needs and expectations are being met by qualified professionals with different skill sets and foci.
While vertical developments have created depth, never before seen in the spa industry, it is horizontal or scope expansion into a myriad of life style industries that have truly turbo-charged spa development across many disciplines. This phenomenon has left many spa operators with the difficult choice of where and how to expand. Spa therapies treatments and programs are constantly evolving to enhance lifestyles and are now tailored to address issues related to: Aging ("anti-", "healthy"& "reverse"), Beauty, Child Rearing, Creativity, Disease (prevention and management), Detoxification (alcohol, drugs, pesticides, preservatives and generally unhealthy diets), General Wellness, Joint Flexibility, Medicine (Eastern and Western), Nutrition, Philosophy, Pain Management Recreation, Relationships, Relaxation, Self- esteem, and Spiritual Growth ... to name a few. This is a partial list that will experience sustained, aggressive growth because of: an affluent aging baby boomers, increased leisure time, ease of travel, savvy spa consumers and an experience-hungry population base. This trend shows no signs of abating in the foreseeable future.