Spa Marketing: Building Business Through Brand Alignment
By Mark Wuttke Principal, The Wuttke Group | July 08, 2012
Co-authored by Gordon Tareta, Senior Vice President, Amala, Inc.
In building a spa, there's no end to the time and effort that goes into strategy, development, construction, FF&E, staffing and creating a treatment menu. All of these efforts combined should effectively articulate a spa's brand positioning. Yet retail -- a critical component to the mix – is sometimes treated separately and can be subject to change without notice. A new spa director has a favorite line. An effective sales pitch turns heads. There is pressure on the spa manager to yield to the latest trend. Any of these impromptu developments can alter the retail offering at any time in a spa's life and can threaten the integrity of the brand.
The result can be akin to purchasing a Mercedes Benz with manual windows or having a chauffeur- driven Kia. The key to 360-degree branding is aligning all the key touch points with the brand vision. The purpose of this article is to discuss effective ways to achieve this and, as important, how to avoid pitfalls.
Why the Potential Pitfalls?
In some hotel and resort operations, the spa has been added to an established operation as an amenity, an enhancement to the overall guest experience. In other cases, it may be part of a new build but the concept may be previously untested by the owner or developer. In many instances, the spa is still regarded as a minor operating department and therefore lacks the attention of a larger department, such as Rooms. There is a learning curve in pairing a spa with a hospitality entity. Once that is accomplished, it opens up a whole new world as well as a revenue stream for the owner and operator.
If you equate the spa to other hospitality concepts, it makes it easier to address the issue of brand alignment. For example, if you think of the spa as a miniature hotel one can quickly gain a grasp of the operation. There is a front desk, reservations, housekeeping, and "guest rooms" (albeit the beds are a bit smaller). The spa menu is like a restaurant menu. To be effective in representing the brand, it must adequately convey the concept, speak to the reader and whet the appetite. Don't forget about recipes and food costs. The spa product can far exceed the cost of a bottle of good wine in terms of income potential for this operating unit.