Spa Alert: Prepare for changing guest expectations

By Jane Segerberg Founder & President, Segerberg Spa Consulting, LLC | April 23, 2010

Let's talk about what makes sense as we move forward in planning to reach higher levels of success than ever before: Twenty-Ten... Bring it On. That's the attitude! Let's get on with the 'New Normal'. We have ducked and run, planned survival tactics and talked about 'riding out the storm'. Now it's time to grab the reins and get on with business by being proactive, creative and engaging our guests and customers in surprising new ways while running our businesses economically and efficiently.

The 'stories' about spa usage have been negatively over dramatized. The truth is that although resort/hotel spa visits are down, the guest capture rate has remained the same. The percent guest usage of spas on leisure or business travel remains the same; it's just that for right now, hotel visits are down.

According to the Hartman Group, "not everyone believes that out of the ashes will rise a new movement of frugalistas and bottom feeders", nor does history support such an outcome. Hartman typically has a good finger on the pulse of consumers and their researchers feel that the belt tightening just hasn't happened. The term 'theatrics of thrift' describes the coupon clipping and social commiseration about the grocery store pricing (which represents 7% of a household's expenditures). One instance of thrift is often negated by another instance of splurging - the wife clips coupons and the spouse buys and iphone.

It is interesting that price ranked 6th in importance following quality in Hartman's Consumer survey. The 'thrill of finding a great deal' still dominates purchasing behavior over pure price. In short, the shopper has been taught to shop for a deal and this behavior will be difficult to change in the future.

Certainly our future guests will be expecting value and the 'value deal'. In the value experience, fun trumps thrift. In the new economic stability, the more conservative shopper wants to enjoy experiences, yet feel that they are getting a great deal.

For spas, the future is now. 2010 – bring it on. Let's put the spa experience back in our existing spas and build new spas with revamped spa sensibilities such as:

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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.