Greening Your Spa

By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | September 02, 2010

With this article, we begin a series of applications of sustainability to particular segments of the lodging industry: spas, conference centers, resorts, and full-service hotels. The intention is to focus on those aspects of the segment that have special opportunities and needs from the perspective of improving environmental sustainability.

The need for and interest in health and sustainability could not be more intrinsic and central to the spa segment, which is dedicated to improving well-being and healthfulness. A recent survey of spa industry professionals completed by TREC International Inc. for the International Spa Association (ISPA) revealed that 46% of respondents indicated they want to reduce or eliminate the use of toxic products, while 52% reported they are currently selecting green products and services or are planning to go "green." In this article, we will look at issues related to spa facilities as well as the operations and internal environments therein. By addressing environmental sustainability, many spa operators are now finding that it is an integral foundation for their business as well as for society at large.

The Spa's Place in the World

Many lodging properties are expanding to incorporate spas to tap this growing market segment, either by converting existing space or by adding a wing or separate building. All such construction has innumerable opportunities to be more sustainable: in the siting and orientation, so as to have least impact and to maximize compatibility with climate (for example, shade for southerly exposures) and opportunity for daylighting and passive solar benefits; in the selection of construction materials, whether it be salvaged or sustainably harvested wood, composite board with adhesives that do not contain formaldehyde, or Green Seal-certified paints or windows; and in the landscaping around new construction, where use of native plants is preferred. Another important design element is selecting and using an effective system for collecting, treating, and recycling water with minimal impact on the land.

Many interior furnishings such as carpet, furniture, and window treatments may contain chemicals (binders, flame retardants, coatings, etc.) that can off-gas volatile toxic compounds for weeks or months after construction. Clearly, no spa wants to assault its clients with such toxins at the same time it is trying to cleanse and restore their bodies and minds. So the choice of these materials must consider their components as well as their overall aesthetics and style.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

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.