The Elements of Building a Successful Spa
By Jane Segerberg Founder & President, Segerberg Spa Consulting, LLC | October 2008
One word in the title, "elements", best describes the spa's approach to success. An element is a component, part, factor or characteristic of a whole. The entire process of building a spa includes several key elements that are fundamental to the entire picture of success.
The Key Element
Concept is the most fundamentally important element to building a successful spa. In our consulting experience, the use of concept as the guiding principle of all other decisions such as facility planning, menu development, budgeting, FF&E selection and marketing sets the stage for success. It is very tempting for the hotelier to survey the hotels/resorts that he/she respects and pick spa elements that seem to fit his/her spa project. We see spas that are a smorgasbord of other spas (including their costly mistakes) and neither have a personality of their own nor do they complement the resort experience. Planning a spa is much more complicated than any other aspect of the hotel revenue areas. Conceptual guidance is needed in order to consistently deliver an identifiable experience to guests.
Knowing what your own hotel/resort does well, why guests visit your hotel/resort and how guests describe their experience is important to the spa's concept and development. Research your market and define the purpose of the spa and the experience that the spa should deliver in relation to the resort/hotel's market, goals and objectives.
It is at this point that spa planning may take a surprising turn with pre-conceived notions of size, placement, etc. We have often suggested a change in location, a change in the timing of the project, or not building a spa at this time. Based on the market analysis and the spa vision, the concept design will address the image and positioning of the spa, location of the spa, program orientation and the size and scope of the facility.
What will be the spa's distinctive position? What will differentiate your spa from others to keep your guests returning? What will create the added draw or deciding factor for choosing your hotel/resort over another? As we all know, "better" is not distinctive positioning. Distinctive positioning sets your spa apart from others and provides effective marketing and promotional hooks that are consistent with the spa's concept. Know your competition! Your spa's distinctive positioning is the sum of its total products as defined by the concept. It is not one signature treatment that can be replicated. It is being able to say, "We're the spa that is known for ___|\___|\___| as opposed to our competitor spa who is known for \___|\___|__."