How to Court and Keep Couples

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Spas of all kinds are reporting growth in the demand for services that cater to couples. The definition of "couples" has expanding beyond husbands and wives, to brides and grooms, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and same sex couples. Because of the diversity of the couples market, spas must map out a sound strategy to deliver profitable couples services. Here are some tips on managing and marketing spa treatments "a deux".

Design for Flexibility

At its ultimate, a couple's suite is like a self-contained spa. However, day spas without the luxury of space have not forgone this lucrative market. "The majority of couples services performed in small spas take place in converted large multi-purpose rooms," according to spa consultant Lisa Starr, who recently performed a study on how spas are designing facilities and marketing couples services. "Day spas have gotten creative—some use a large treatment room separated by a retractable wall, others manage using two adjoining rooms with a doorway in between."

Manage the Experience

The best couples services are more than simply a series of treatments in a room for two, they are romantic rituals combining a luxurious environment with a high level of pampering and service. The management decisions include: What types of treatments will be included? How will they differ for different types of couples? Will the services be unattended or attended? Who will provide the extra education needed to book these services? (Without education, couples may book two treatments at the same time, and not ask for a couple's room...most likely because they won't even know it exists.)

Ditch the Day of Beauty

In the words of spa expert Adam Broderick "The Day of Beauty has moved to the right of Cabbage Patch Kids, and Pet Rocks."  Follow your clients through their life cycles by providing education and support. Broderick recommends 'lifestyle progressive spa marketing focused more on health and wellness benefits, stress reduction, and lifestyle tracts."

Tune into Teens

Mother/daughter couples are the second largest segment of the couples market. You'd be hard pressed to find a more ready and willing market for spa services than teenage girls. Young girls spend 15 percent of their overall income on health and beauty products, according to Chicago-based market research firm Teen Research Unlimited (TRU).  "We introduced teen programs out of sheer demand from our guests," says general manager Deborah Evans. "We began to see an increased volume in requests for mother/daughter visits and surprisingly, mother/son requests."

Tandem Training

As with any new service, specific training on couples' services should be standard. Two clients, treatment series, and extra touches like rose petals, mood lighting, and dining complicate the service delivery. Synchronizing the timing of the treatments to begin and end at the same time will add to the couple's comfort by creating a rhythmic flow.

Don't Forget to Market

The best couples programs will go unnoticed if they are not well marketed. Look to your product vendors to create promotional ideas and special gifts. Design promotions to convert "special occasion" guests into loyal clients. An anniversary package could offer a complimentary service that increases in value the longer the couple is married. Keep track of important dates in your database so you can send "teaser" letters well in advance.

Remember that the best marketing is a great experience. Couples that come in together, if pleased, will most likely come back individually.