Spa Sustainability Strategies for the Environment, The Guests, & Your Business

By Judy Singer President & Co-Owner, Health Fitness Dynamics, Inc. | November 17, 2009

Going green is not a trend... it has a life of its own that continues to grow and gain momentum. This phenomenon is becoming so prevalent that people are moving away from the term "green" and have embraced the larger concept of "sustainability" because it better describes the long-term and on-going evolution and revolution of personal, cultural, economic, environmental and global well-being. As more and more individuals and corporations are engaging in the sustainability culture, it is important to see how well-aligned this is with the spa revolution of the past 10 - 15 years. Spas went from being trendy to being on-trend; from being a luxury to a necessity; from elite to main street; from loss-leaders to profit-makers. Substitute the word "sustainability" for "spa" and you will see the similarities and synergies.

Many spas have assumed more responsibility for providing a "soft" but conscientious, results-oriented and educational experience that is integrated into and balanced with the corner stone of the spa experience which is rest and relaxation. A spa experience typically helps people focus on "personal sustainability" in terms of taking responsibility for one's health and well-being; instilling a sense of balance and control; and learning and practicing new skills for personal and professional growth, happiness, fulfillment and purpose. From a business perspective, the sustainability movement has an emotional connection as well as an economic impact, e.g., it is just as much about how a business stays alive and thrives as it is about people and the environment. If the spa is not profitable, the business is not sustainable.

Spas have an opportunity, and many people say a responsibility, to effectively and seamlessly address both personal and global sustainability....it's all about lifestyle choices that lead to results that positively impact people and the planet. Eco-efforts are not about sacrificing or "doing without" (not about dieting or deprivation) but rather making healthy choices that enhance the overall well-being of people and places.

When people are at a spa doing things that are good for themselves, there is a dichotomy if they are not also being responsible consumers. Spas have found that awareness leads to action, e.g., when people are educated about simple, inexpensive, effective and results-oriented things they can do on their own and at home, many of them will take small steps but this can have a great impact.

There are many organizations that are focusing their attention on the spa industry from everything from the hardware (construction) to the software (products) to the infrastructure (policies, procedures, processes) and their effect on the spa's profits:

The Green Spa Network (GSN:greenspanetwork.org) was formed 6 years ago to help spas incorporate a greater sense of eco-consciousness from an operational, educational, environmental and global perspective. To paraphrase Michael Strusser, a founding member of GSN, "green spas harmonize the rhythms of nature and the body so that people feel healthier and stronger." GSN has created an on-line toolkit of ideas to help spas launch their sustainability program.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.