Sometimes waiting really is the hardest part, especially when it comes to technology. In today’s fast-paced society, instant gratification is key, and being able to make plans and communicate with others at any time of the day or night is not only desired but also expected. While there are many benefits to voice communication, many people today (millennials especially) prefer to communicate via text or email. In fact, according to a survey from OpenMarket, 75 percent of millennials choose texting over talking on the phone, because it is more convenient and fits into their schedule. And according to eMarketer, U.S. adults are expected to spend an average of three hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018, an annual increase of more than 11 minutes.
Being able to conduct business or make appointments at any time is something people have come to expect for so many aspects of life, such as paying bills, communicating with customer service representatives, making dinner reservations, arranging travel plans, and so much more, which is why it’s not only important but also imperative that spas offer online booking. “People are continually looking for an opportunity to make life easier,” says James Ludlow, who works in business development at Weave, a patient communication software company. “The typical client doesn’t have the luxury of sitting and mapping out their week; they’re usually on-the-go and need the ability to book an appointment right then, when it’s at the top of their mind. Allowing clients to set their appointments without the middleman is ideal in that it’s not only immediate but it also helps clients feel in control of their experience and sets up spas to continue to offer their great service as a constant, reliable source should the client actually need to talk prior to their appointment. The rise of e-commerce has increased consumers’ trust in technology and scheduling is no different.”
Offering online booking is an essential part of running a spa, but as technology evolves, it’s important to make sure a spa’s online booking system is up to date with the latest features that help to enhance the experience for clients, such as these:
- Mobile Friendly: “It must be designed for mobile experience, not just a desktop solution that runs on mobile,” says Roger Sholanki, founder and CEO of Book4Time. “The user experience is much different, and if you don't have a real mobile solution, you'll see much lower conversion.”
- Automatic Confirmations: “All online booking solutions—desktop or mobile—need to be able to immediately secure the booking in real-time with automated push confirmations via text messages and/or email,” says Sholanki.
- Text and Email Reminders: “One of the biggest headaches of this industry is managing no-shows or late-cancellations,” says Kat Vu, marketing assistant at Vagaro. “Spa clients are more committed to showing up to their appointments when businesses send out text or email reminders. When clients make it to their appointments, spas don’t lose out on cash flow that can be invested in growing the business.”
- Email Marketing: “A spa can galvanize its clientele to spend more money by deploying targeted email marketing campaigns,” says Vu. “Businesses can utilize email marketing to promote appointment openings and discounts on products or services. It’s an easy and efficient way of reaching multiple clients and keeping your business on top of their mind.”
- Easy Login Capabilities to View All Spa-Related Activity: “Ideally, the proper software tool would make it easy for clients to log in to their account through a spa's online booking page, access purchase history, specify a preferred provider, and store a credit card on file,” says Steve Martin, chief marketing officer of DaySmart Software. “Not only does this make clients’ lives easier but it also provides spa owners with more insight into their clients’ preferences and behaviors. This allows them to engage effectively with their clientele.”
- “Remember Me” Capabilities: “Capturing the guest’s details at the time of initial booking is key to a spa’s success, as it allows the guest easier access to book again in the future and also gives the spa the ability to market to them directly based on their preferences,” says Michelle Young, vice president of sales and marketing at SpaSoft.
- Mobile App: “Mobile apps are a huge up-and-coming feature that spas should consider offering,” says Frank Pitsikalis, founder and CEO of ResortSuite. “They are especially useful to loyal customers. Mobile apps are easily accessible and can also help with promotions through push notifications and other mobile features.”