Using Technology to Market Your Spa

By Elaine Fenard Partner & Chief Operating Officer, Europe and U.S., Spatality | February 22, 2010

Typically, the spa business is relatively slow to embrace new ways of doing things. Perhaps this is due to its centuries-old roots of tradition and culture. Yet an increasing number of top-performing spas are embracing technology for reservations, booking, CRM and outbound marketing. The beauty is you don't have to be a tech-guru to take advantage of what's being offered, what it does and how it can help your spa.

The first step is to get engaged and educate yourself. Read articles, take seminars, join user groups, join social networking sites to see how they work, investigate the latest books-it's simply a matter of wading through the vast amounts of information to find out what's truly salient. To help speed up this process, here is a list of tech suggestions worthy of a second look (or in some cases, a first look).

Search Marketing Optimization (SMO)

Purchasing or bidding on key words with search engines such as Google and Yahoo is a bit like making a traditional media buy except it is much more measurable. Sometimes known as pay per click advertising, most SMO programs revolve around paying for key words and phrases that, when input into a search engine field, yield your website as one of the "sponsored links." The great thing about SMO is that you don't pay for the listing unless a user actually clicks-through to your site from the sponsored link. Be sure to fully understand the complexities of such a campaign before spending money, however. Critical details such as which key phrases to use, how much to bid, and how to modify the campaign based on the results are all important factors to consider before a campaign is implemented. For example, the cost of the keyword "spa" would likely be cost-prohibitive, not to mention much too broad to have a positive effect. But the phrase "San Francisco day spa" will yield a much more qualified and defined audience at a fraction of the cost. There are many qualified web marketing firms that can help in this endeavor, and it may be wise for first timers to seek such assistance.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Not to be confused with SMO, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of helping a website achieve a higher ranking on search engines. It might sound simple, but it's actually quite complex that can involve programming, meta tags, links, blogs, site content and much more. Don't get bogged down in the specifics of how SEO works, but rather that it can work if your aim is to climb the search engine rankings, which of course should be a key initiative for all spa operators. Simple techniques such as keeping a blog on the spa's website can help with rankings merely based on the fact that frequent and fresh content on a site is one of the things search engines look for. Blogs also allow for opportunities to text link within the content, another key indexing component of search engines. All this is not to say you should go out and completely rebuild your spa's website, but at the very least it might do to seek counsel with an SEO expert and prioritize what is possible based on your budget and online marketing objectives.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.