New Technology to Create Spa Experiences That Transcend Location

By Deborah Waldvogel Director of Spa Development & Operations, Sedona Resorts | July 03, 2016

While the Classic Swedish Massage remains the most requested spa treatment, today's spa-savvy business and leisure guests, regardless of geographic location, are expecting a deeper and more enhanced experience, like those often found in destination spas. Many spas are accomplishing this through the use of specialized equipment, spaces, and wellness programs. Furthermore, while it may seem contradictory to traditional spa philosophies that promote a tranquil environment encouraging guests to unplug, these modern-day urban facilities, whether it is a city club, hotel or day spa, are incorporating more "high tech" processes, features and treatments to expand and customize their offerings.

Spa on Demand

Spa in any context is a multisensory experience, with the first "spa touch" occurring more frequently far before arrival. Due to demanding work and family schedules, people are researching and planning business and leisure trips on computer and mobile devices-from interactive websites that transport them to the unique hotels and spas through imagery, music and creative content-often outside normal "business hours" of hotels and spas. Guests are now able to make real-time bookings and appreciate the ability to have access to a "one stop shop" where they can quickly create and confirm their entire itinerary of products and services.

Based on the International SPA Association's (ISPA) 2015 U.S. Spa Industry Study, there were more day spas that offered the option for guests to book treatments online. In fact, 55 percent of day spas offered an online booking option compared to only 38 percent of resort/hotel spas.

ResortSuite, based in Toronto, Canada, offers a fully integrated hospitality software system that includes an advanced web booking engine which allows guests to not only reserve their accommodations, but also gives them the opportunity to book and instantly confirm spa services, classes and activities, as well as dining and concierge services.

The Washington Athletic Club in Seattle is one of the most recognized and accomplished club facilities In North America. With a commitment to offer its extremely large club base of over 12,000 active members a very personalized and quality experience, the athletic club integrated the ResortSuite WEB into its system in order to allow club members to book accommodations as well as view their current and historical activity statements through a private and customized member portal.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.