Are You Making Claims That Could Land You in Court?

By Casey Olsen Owner, Spa Sources | June 15, 2010

In the late 70's to the early 80's the American spas took what was to date a more European hot water approach and melded pampering treatments with exercise and diet facilities and beauty regimens. We saw the validity of combining a total wellness concept rather than segregating these aspects.

During this evolution, cosmetic manufacturers saw this emerging opportunity to create a more spa focused product rather than just mass produced department store cosmetic lines. Fitness equipment manufacturers emerged with more and more sophisticated lines to meet the growing demand for our body conscious society. And, most importantly, stress became the key word in disease prevention analogies.

In the 21st century, American spas have had over 20 years in development and have expanded to a more sophisticated venue. But by creating this menu of enticing services, have spa managers and product companies traveled too far in their claims? I think today's spa guest well understands, for example, that by applying a daily moisturizer helps to keep the skin healthy, but will not reverse the aging process. When a spa list of services makes unrealistic claims such as this, or, stating that a product or a treatment will cure your ailment, you begin to tread dangerously in the liability arena.

Whereas, we know that exercising will indeed show positive results, treatments such as facials, massages, wraps and scrubs show no definitive immediate physical adjustments except for relaxation. Stating that a cream will eliminate cellulite is a risky comment. Purporting that repeated skin care regimes will eliminate wrinkles is also a step towards the unrealistic.

Unfortunately, we live in a litigious world and the unhappy guest that challenges your claims in court is becoming a reality. Numerous resorts now have to defend their miracle claims with legitimate studies supporting their beauty assertions. There is a general feeling among the public that they are so deluged with untruths infiltrating their own living rooms through television ads, that this has given rise to intolerance. Your spa is supposed to deliver to your guest an escape from the maddening world. By alleging product and treatment untruths, you actually diminish that respite.

Claims often made regarding the hot stone massage state that this therapy "soothes, relaxes and also stimulates and opens the energy centers of the body." Certainly, this demonstrates a clear assertion that is actually quite vague. Exactly where are the energy centers of the body? And how are they opened when warm rocks are placed on them? What scientific data do we have to show that this actually occurs, and, if indeed this happens, are we sure that "opening the energy centers of the body" is a good thing?

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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.