The Implications of 'The Spa Effect' for Hotel Spas

By Jacqueline Clarke Wellness Research Director, Diagonal Reports | October 28, 2008

A new millennium of spa-expectations?

I have coined the term "the Spa Effect"(TM) to refer to a major growth driver not just in spas, but in the wider personal care services market. That driver is the belief that an investment in a personal care regime, like an investment in a health care regime, is beneficial for well-being in the short term, and for the quality of life in the long term. Personal care regimes, like other regimes, are more effective when used in conjunction with products. Spas are one of the biggest winners of this new consumer attitude.

The expectation of a beneficial payoff from a personal care regime is the result of a combination of a number of different factors and of social developments. Among these factors are the larger numbers of appearance-conscious but ageing baby boomers, and higher levels of health-awareness, along with knowledge of product development in related fields. The latter is due to the enormous media attention devoted to, for example, in the health field the "wonder drugs" (such as Botox and Viagra), in skincare to new anti-ageing products, and in food to the many nutritionals (that promise the added value of health).

Results are required

The expectation of a pay off from a personal care regime changes consumers' perspective on, and the demands they make of, a range of personal care services and products. The expectation of long term pay off that makes consumers willing to spend more money and time on appearance enhancement also makes consumers more demanding. Many now look for measurable results from their investment. Indeed much as consumers have come to expect that spending on health care is measurable, many now expect the same from appearance enhancement.

Spa concept

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.