App-Solutely Essential

The term “nomophobia” might not be widely known to most people, but 40 percent of the population actually suffers from it. It’s a word to describe the fear of being without one’s smartphone. According to a survey released by AT&T and the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, 61 percent of Americans sleep with their phones, and 53 percent feel uncomfortable if they accidentally leave their smartphone in the car or at home, have no service, or break their phone.

As people continue to spend more time on their phones and get used to instantly connecting with others, they are more likely to not only desire, but expect, businesses to update their mobile offerings to make it easy for them to view and connect with them, as well. Spas, in particular, can benefit from mobile optimization. With more than 22,000 spas in the U.S. today, competition is fierce, so offering the latest in technology is key to keeping clients satisfied and eager to return.

Significant Stats

Research shows it’s no longer sufficient to simply have an updated website. Even mobile-optimized sites are becoming a thing of the past. Today’s tech-savvy consumers expect a mobile app for convenience. “These days, it seems like there’s an app for just about everything, and this trend does not appear to be disappearing anytime soon,” says Dan Chandre, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at Booker. “Between the steady rise of the wellness industry, which has grown 10 percent within the last three years, and with 85 percent of millennials relying on the use of their smartphones, businesses in the wellness space are starting to realize that mobile apps are key in attracting this massive customer base.” Here are some stats that might make you consider an app of your own.

  • Americans spend an estimated 4.7 hours a day on their smartphones—Informate Mobile Intelligence, a Seattle-based research group
  • 90 percent of the time people spend on their smartphones is spent on mobile apps—Flurry’s annual report on the mobile industry
  • 40 million U.S. smartphones use at least one wellness-related app—findings by research firm Parks Associates

The road m-app to wellness

From weight-loss help and a better night’s sleep to exercise motivation and tips for a sound mind, body, and soul, there are apps that perfectly suit the needs and desires of just about everyone. Here are some helpful wellness apps worth checking out:

Calm: This app helps users meditate, sleep, and relax with a number of features like soothing music tracks, guided meditations, 10 nature scenes to set the perfect mood, and easy-to-follow programs to improve sleep and teach users to meditate. 

Daily Yoga: This app features more than 100 yoga and meditation exercises along with high-definition videos, guided meditation, and soothing music.

Fitnet: Fitnet features more than 200 free cardio, strength, and yoga sessions, including five-minute workouts. It also allows users to connect to a certified professional to get text and video coaching.

Happify: This app includes games and activities that help to reduce stress and anxiety.

Headspace: Considered a personal trainer for the mind, this app features a free 10-day program that teaches users the basics of meditation in just 10 minutes a day. For those who choose to subscribe, it provides a range of sessions to help users apply mindfulness to everyday activities.

MyFitnessPal: Users can log their meals quickly and easily on this app, which helps them stay on track and succeed with weight-loss goals.

ShopWell: This app is perfect for those looking to avoid certain ingredients for weight loss, managing blood pressure, or because of an allergy. It allows the user to scan their grocery receipt or products in-store to identify the presence of certain ingredients.

Sleep Machine: This app enhances a meditation, yoga, or spa session, and helps one relax and get better sleep with more than 100 ambient sounds, a silence timer, and soothing alarm clock sound options.

Booking Trends

In today’s fast-paced society, online booking is preferred. According to data collected by Acuity Scheduling, 90 percent of customers prefer to book appointments online, and 35 percent prefer to book them after-hours. What’s more, 96 percent of businesses actually prefer their clients to book online. Therefore, it’s a win-win. “When it comes to catering to your clients, convenience is king,” says Booker’s Dan Chandre. “Thanks to your spa’s mobile app, clients can book appointments even when your business is closed from wherever they happen to be.”

Today’s spa software is making it easier and more efficient for clients to book services online. From hours of operation and contact information to viewing service availability and offering clients the option to book an appointment directly from their mobile device, spa apps cover all bases. According to John Harms, founder and CEO of Millennium Systems International, the engine that scans for open appointments is a key component of a successful online booking feature. “You want it to be smart, fast, and flexible,” he says. “Also, allowing guests to book from their past history makes it easy to complete an online booking in seconds, as it will know the services you usually get and with which service providers you have gone to in the past.”

Apps to Order

Want to offer your clients a custom app? “Apps are all about convenience and much faster than going to a desktop or mobile site,” says Millennium’s John Harms. “People want information and capabilities in the palm of their hand.” Here are some of the benefits:

Keep your spa top of mind

“A customized mobile app is the perfect way to get your name out there and hold valuable real estate on your customers’ phones,” says Booker’s Dan Chandre. “And with today’s busy lifestyles, being able to be reached anytime and anywhere is a must.”

Build guest loyalty

“An app is a great way to maintain a guest’s engagement with your spa, even when they’re not onsite,” says Frank Pitsikalis, founder and CEO of ResortSuite. “Having an app allows you to send appointment reminders and promotions, which show clients that they are valued and keep them coming back.” It’s also a great way to enhance the personal connection with each guest by using their name, past bookings, and favorite products to personalize promotions and interactions through the app.

Improve communication with clients

Allowing users to easily access features like loyalty program points, view last-minute openings, and purchase gift cards, an app can help you keep your clients abreast of special promotions and more.

However, Harms suggests that you not spend a lot of money on creating a completely custom app, as many spa software companies have the capabilities to use a general consumer app and customize it to suit the needs and desires of your spa. And Roger Sholanki, CEO of Book4Time, adds that apps should be a priority for spas that have multiple locations or high repeat business. “I think we all understand mobile apps provide many benefits like convenience, ease of use, and brand marketing,” he says. “Our experience has shown spas with high repeat business, multiple locations, and strong brand recognition benefit the most versus destination and resort spas, as consumers are less likely to install an app if they don’t plan to go there on a regular basis.”

On-demand tips from the Pros

Because many spa-goers today are not only stressed out, but also stressed for time, you may want to consider adding on-demand services. As GrubHub is to food delivery and Uber is to transportation, on-demand spa services are booming. "On-demand massage apps, like Zeel Massage On Demand, allow customers to get a five-star massage at home, at a hotel, at a workplace, or at an event, in as little as an hour, 365 days a year,” says David Edwards, vice president of corporate and business development at Zeel. Here, some on-demand massage and beauty experts share tips for spas considering adding this service:

“Ensure you have the capability and the structure to provide on-demand services before you build the app. That means making sure that you have enough five-star service providers for on-demand appointments, as well as top customer service available around the clock.”—David Edwards, vice president, Zeel

“There are different ways that a brick-and-mortar business can enter the on-demand spa space. One method is using a ‘hub and spoke’ model, where they offer off-site services to their existing customer base. The second method is using technology to improve the current user experience within the establishment. This includes creating an app that has customer relationship management that ties into every touch point within the spa-customer-provider experience loop.”—Parv Syed, founder, SpaBear 

“It starts with building a strong team and empowering them with the knowledge and tools necessary to offer a human touch to a digital experience.”—Cara Santana, cofounder and CEO, The Glam App

“Before entering into the on-demand market, I would suggest that you do quite a bit of research on your supply-side constraints as well as consumer demand. When the two are way off, the model simply won’t work.”—Merlin Kauffman, founder and CEO, Soothe