How Spas Can Avoid a Financial Decline

By Judy Singer President & Co-Owner, Health Fitness Dynamics, Inc. | March 24, 2011

While spas can physically, psychologically, socially and emotionally meet the needs of many people, the challenge is to do so in a financially feasible way. Many spas have been their own worst enemy by getting caught up in the "greed" factor (very high treatment prices). This has caused consumers to re-evaluate the genuine "need" and ability for them to visit the spa. Spas are realizing that their "feel good" bubble may burst if they do not respond to the challenging economic realities. The global spa universe is re-evaluating its ability and the necessity to be more affordable; provide more value; and emphasize need verses luxury. Like other industries, savvy spas are diligently looking at ways to address the new realities. They realize that if they don't do a make-over they may go under. Like every other business that wants to survive, spas are seriously examining every facet of their business.

A Consultant's View

As Heath Fitness Dynamics goes into our 26th year, we see that the challenges spas are facing this year may be a bit new, but we really think many of them have been there for a long time and now they are really more visible rather than new. There are numerous dormant issues that the industry has not had to face in "healthy" times. The "wellness" of our industry has deteriorated; some spas have taken precautionary and preventative care and are still doing well. Others have ignored the symptoms and have not set-up a self-care program so they are ill. Unfortunately, some spas are in denial or are paralyzed by the circumstances or have not reacted quickly enough and are, therefore, on their death bed.

Spas can no longer avoid examining every facet of their business and taking responsible, thoughtful and immediate action. Everything needs to go under a microscope in order to have a spa that meets the needs and interests of the guests; allows the spa to recruit and retain staff; and is a tangible asset in terms of its departmental profitability as well as its value to enhance the "core" business of selling hotel rooms and/or real estate.

The following are my "S" ideas on some of the key areas that need to be carefully examined and, as necessary, fine-tuned or re-structured.

1. Sales

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There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.