Using Technology to Market Your Spa

By Elaine Fenard Partner & Chief Operating Officer, Europe and U.S., Spatality | February 22, 2010

Typically, the spa business is relatively slow to embrace new ways of doing things. Perhaps this is due to its centuries-old roots of tradition and culture. Yet an increasing number of top-performing spas are embracing technology for reservations, booking, CRM and outbound marketing. The beauty is you don't have to be a tech-guru to take advantage of what's being offered, what it does and how it can help your spa.

The first step is to get engaged and educate yourself. Read articles, take seminars, join user groups, join social networking sites to see how they work, investigate the latest books-it's simply a matter of wading through the vast amounts of information to find out what's truly salient. To help speed up this process, here is a list of tech suggestions worthy of a second look (or in some cases, a first look).

Search Marketing Optimization (SMO)

Purchasing or bidding on key words with search engines such as Google and Yahoo is a bit like making a traditional media buy except it is much more measurable. Sometimes known as pay per click advertising, most SMO programs revolve around paying for key words and phrases that, when input into a search engine field, yield your website as one of the "sponsored links." The great thing about SMO is that you don't pay for the listing unless a user actually clicks-through to your site from the sponsored link. Be sure to fully understand the complexities of such a campaign before spending money, however. Critical details such as which key phrases to use, how much to bid, and how to modify the campaign based on the results are all important factors to consider before a campaign is implemented. For example, the cost of the keyword "spa" would likely be cost-prohibitive, not to mention much too broad to have a positive effect. But the phrase "San Francisco day spa" will yield a much more qualified and defined audience at a fraction of the cost. There are many qualified web marketing firms that can help in this endeavor, and it may be wise for first timers to seek such assistance.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Not to be confused with SMO, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of helping a website achieve a higher ranking on search engines. It might sound simple, but it's actually quite complex that can involve programming, meta tags, links, blogs, site content and much more. Don't get bogged down in the specifics of how SEO works, but rather that it can work if your aim is to climb the search engine rankings, which of course should be a key initiative for all spa operators. Simple techniques such as keeping a blog on the spa's website can help with rankings merely based on the fact that frequent and fresh content on a site is one of the things search engines look for. Blogs also allow for opportunities to text link within the content, another key indexing component of search engines. All this is not to say you should go out and completely rebuild your spa's website, but at the very least it might do to seek counsel with an SEO expert and prioritize what is possible based on your budget and online marketing objectives.

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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.