Simplify Your Spa Operations - Throw Out the Bathwater, Not the Baby

By Jane Segerberg Founder & President, Segerberg Spa Consulting, LLC | January 07, 2010

Remaining focused on our core business is difficult with the distractions of the media's hysteria regarding consumer frugality and its effects on all of our businesses. The Hartman group, Inc. recently released a voice-of-reason overview of the new consumer frugality. Having studied the issue with a trending, ethnographic and cultural longitudinal analysis filter, Hartman brings reason to the hype. Are consumers going to quit buying or simply buy less? Will consumers shop differently and how? Will consumers modify their habits and will any of these changes be permanent as the economy recovers?

There is no doubt that in the short term our guests will spend less, but spending less doesn't represent a change of intent. Our guests will still take vacations and spa visits, and in doing so they will look for better value and promotions, even from their favorite brands.

The bottom line advice is not to jump to conclusions and make regrettable mistakes, but instead, listen to our own consumers and listen to them through direct communication, not through what others tell us. Learn first-hand what is important to current consumers so simplifying operations is prudent and the 'baby' is not thrown out with the 'bathwater'. The very essence of the reason spa goers seek spas, to feel nurtured, rested and renewed will not be lost in the process.

The pressure is on to keep business levels as optimized as possible and therefore, it is important to keep our loyal guests as well as attract new guests. We want our spa guest return again and say "I got my money's worth".

Simplification Selection Strategy

The core business of spas ('the baby') is the business of nurturing. Whether the guest comes to the spa for a massage to work out the kinks from a round of golf or to have a skin smoothing facial and a pedicure, the underlying fundamental expectation is to be nurtured with a targeted and meaningful spa service experience, not just a spa service. Guests value the entire service experience that they receive, not the service (treatment) alone that they receive.

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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.