Spa Trends Now and In the Future

By Gary Henkin President & Founder, WTS International | May 02, 2012

The world's challenging economic climate has meant that hotel, resort and destination spas must remain ahead of the curve if they expect to deliver quality customer service and produce a positive bottom line.

This starts with paying attention to trends within the industry, creative design, spa menus that speak to consumer desires and pragmatic marketing and management. With the exception of certain geographic pockets throughout the world, it has been increasingly more difficult to maintain or grow revenue streams while capturing enough guest and local traffic to support a profitable business enterprise.

In the current environment, spas that don't have (or stick to) a well thought out game plan to consistently drive revenue through effective promotion of treatments and retail sales will likely suffer the consequence of economic downturn. With luxury hotel occupancy dropping by double digits and spa treatment per customer revenue at hotels in decline, it is important to ask the right questions if you are planning to add or expand a spa. These include an awareness of overall trends that will have consumer appeal which then impact design decisions; how to construct a viable business model to maximize the opportunity for profit; what is the best and most creative way to pay and incentivize staff; and how can I attract the local element outside the property which is becoming more important for financial success.

Existing and future trends are outlined below:

  • There is a significant shift on the part of consumers toward wellness and preventive health (as opposed to pampering) which has driven consumer needs heretofore. This includes an increased comfort level with med-spa procedures and incorporating this into prevention treatments and services. This will ultimately drive a more collaborative approach with the health and medical industries. Delegates at the recent Global Spa Summit reported that the preventive health segment has the largest upside for potential growth which was significantly greater than the focus on day spas, luxury spas and cosmetic medical spas. Further, attendees indicated their desire to collaborate with healthcare by a more than 2-1 margin when compared with their interest in doing so with other sectors. Delegates also indicated that the most crucial factors impacting the profitability of the industry are marketing, healthcare, insurance regulatories and emerging consumer markets. Consumers are becoming far more health conscious and price sensitive which will drive a closer collaboration between spas and healthcare. It is likely that spas will continue to increase their role in wellness, and hospitals will be more prone to have spa offerings in the future.

  • Consumers are now expecting a more proactive approach from spas in addressing environmental concerns. The eco-spa trend isn't likely to disappear. Use of recycled wood, geothermal energy, wind-powered electricity, recycling bins in common areas, foods from organic gardens grown on site, solar lighting, recycled water, etc. are now on the radar screen for spa owners who want environmental sensitivity without drumming "green initiatives" down the throats of the spa goer. A Green Spa Network is now in existence and consumers will come to demand attentiveness to this expanding industry trend. The majority of the delegates at the last Global Spa Summit reported that environmental responsibility will have a significant influence on their future business.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.