The Top Five Beauty Treatments in Spas

By Jacqueline Clarke Wellness Research Director, Diagonal Reports | April 02, 2010

Exotic spa treatments may attract media attention but people always buy the basic services. Beauty treatments are an important part of the hotel spa business. Hotels not only face stiff competition from surrounding spas but also must deal with the significant innovation which is taking place in the category - especially in top-end spas. It can be difficult to differentiate the top-end day spas particularly "city spas" from top hotel spas. New spa therapies are offered not just by day spas, but also by new entrants such as medspas, doctors' clinics, and even hospitals. The still relatively young hotel spa industry needs to be aware of this innovation, so as not to lose out to rivals. It is time to examine the top treatments in beauty and their importance to spas.

As spas, along with all personal care businesses, are entering the uncharted territory of recession, it is timely to look at the bottom line - at the therapies that actually generate sales. Traditionally, massage and beauty services are the bread and butter of hotel spas. But now more beauty businesses - especially upper-end day and city spas are competing for that beauty and wellness spending.

Diagonal Reports is now researching the beauty and wellness business - such as hotel spas and different types of day spas and beauty salons in the USA, UK and China. It warns that spa channel data must be treated with caution in different countries and businesses. As is often stated, the total spa market is very fragmented, and it is not always possible to separate out hotel spas. Spa performance varies widely, that is, by company, by location, by consumer segment served (e.g. for hotel spas, stay guest or walk ins), and by size of spa.

To illustrate the range of sizes in hotel category, some hotel spas can range from 100 M2 with revenues of under one million US dollars, to units with many, many multiples of those figures. For example in France the average health spa generates 15 times more revenue than a body care salon, and 21 times more than a beauty salon.

A further complication arises when comparing data from different businesses is the lack of standardized categories for what can be very extensive menu of services (some self- identify as offering almost 200 beauty and wellness therapies), combined with many classifications and counting methods in use.

Typically hotel spas offer an extensive range of therapies. This can include massage and body care, beauty treatments (aesthetics, cosmetic enhancement), and even fitness and sport. But though hotel spas can offer many therapies a few basics account for most business. As one US spa expert reminded Diagonal Reports, "Media-hyped, exotic sounding services can attract a lot of media attention, but in the end people buy the basics."

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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.