Flying High

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The sky is the limit for this airport spa chain, which continues to put stressed-out travelers at ease.

Commemorating its 10th anniversary  this year, XpresSpa (multiple locations) has much to celebrate. The full-service spa provider features locations in major airports worldwide. Launching the first XpresSpa in 2003 at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, founders Marisol and Moreton Binn have since expanded the brand to more than 45 locations in 22 major airports and have 11 new locations in the works. “We have always measured our success by our healthy growth over the past several years,” says Marisol Binn. “This year, we are increasing our growth by opening one spa per month, our most ambitious year to date. It is truly an exciting time for all of us at XpresSpa.” Here, she shares how XpresSpa is transforming the airport experience and making air travel a considerably less stressful experience.

 

How has XpresSpa continued to  succeed in trying times?

A. We have succeeded by offering the best customer service at the airport. The airport experience the day of travel typically sets the tone for the rest of the trip. We feel fortunate to offer wellness to all our clients at the start of their journeys. We have also noticed that when airport security tightens and the level of passenger stress increases, so does our business. Over the years, we have won several customer service awards in top airports.

 

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome operating  as an airport spa?

A. When we started this business 10 years ago with one spa in Terminal One at JFK, we learned so much in the first year. Operating in airports does have its challenges, especially logistically. From receiving freight pre-security and understanding the dwell time of airport passengers to the background check of employees required by the T.S.A., we are happy to say that we overcame our challenges and will be opening our 50th spa this year.

 

Why do you think the business has been able to succeed where others have failed?

A. There is a continuing need for wellness at the airport, which has many concessions from restaurants and bars to gift shops and newsstands. Although these are all essential for the traveler, there really isn’t anywhere else at the airport that offers wellness to passengers. The airport is a hectic environment, so taking a moment for personal wellness is something many passengers seek out.

 

How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit?

A. Our loyalty program is our biggest asset when attracting new clients and especially in retaining repeat clients. The points system of our program allows clients to enjoy complimentary services the more they visit, similar to the structure of airline miles. Also, by hiring skilled and quality specialists, we have been able to retain many repeat passengers that ask for specialists by first name.

 

In what ways, if any, do you use  digital marketing and social media  to boost business?

A. As airports across the world are expanding their digital marketing and social media efforts, so are we. We are planning to launch a digital solution that will allow clients to interact with our menu in a way that is completely different. At the airport where the percentage of international clients is at its highest, language barriers are often an issue when explaining the in-depth details of a spa service. The goal of our digital menu is to eliminate that barrier by offering the selection in multiple languages. This is our commitment to ensuring that our clients are receiving the best customer service possible. The digital menu will also showcase our social media efforts.

 

How do you keep your menu fresh  and interesting?

A. We listen to our clients. As the needs of travelers constantly evolve, so does our menu. Based on client feedback, we have developed services that truly prepare clients for flight. Our Stress and Tension Eliminator ($35, 15 minutes; $50, 25 minutes) begins with a head and facial massage to relieve sinus pressure, moves to an energizing neck and shoulder massage, and finishes with a soothing arm and hand massage. We have many repeat clients that arrive to the airport early each time they travel, just to receive this service.

 

What plans do you have for the future?

A. We are making our services mobile and recently launched our Massage on the Move (MOM) and Pampering on Demand (POD) programs. They allow us to take select services directly to the gate. In many of the airports where we operate full-service spas, you will see manicures and hand and arm massages being performed on a mobile cart at the boarding area. The idea of getting a manicure minutes before taking off for vacation, right at the gate, has been very well received in the markets where tested. Also, we are introducing new products, including skincare, into our assortment.

 

How do you plan to incorporate what you’ve learned these past 10 years?

A. Again, we plan to keep listening to our customers. It all started when our clients wanted services that were geared toward pre-flight. We added these to our menu, and 10 years later these are still some of our most popular and best-selling services. The POD program is another great example of taking what we’ve learned and incorporating it into our future. After receiving feedback that clients would like to be able to receive services where they can keep an eye on their gate in case of departure changes, the POD program was born.