When it comes to spa essentials, no guest experience is complete without robes and slippers. According to Megha Choudhry, sales and marketing director at Welspun Hospitality, a global textile manufacturer, the organic textile industry has grown exponentially over the past decade. In fact, since 2002, the industry has ballooned from $245 million to $5.19 billion. Yet retailing robes and slippers is just one part of running a spa, and choosing the right styles, controlling inventory, and launching marketing initiatives are just pieces of a larger puzzle. Between treatments, retailing skincare products, and other streams of revenue, how can your spa turn an operational accessory into a sales opportunity? These best practices will help you streamline your business, sharpen your brand, and turn a profit on your spa’s robes and slippers.
Be True to Your Brand
Robes and slippers aren’t just accessories to keep guests clothed and warm—they’re an extension of your spa’s brand, and the color, design, and logo should communicate a coherent message. “They build brand awareness and loyalty, as well as enhance the guest experience,” says Mark Delucca, president of Chadsworth and Haig. He recommends that you choose styles based on your spa’s color palette and design, or opt for white for its compatibility with any color scheme. He also suggests hiring a good graphic artist to assist with logo development.
On the practical side, comfort and durability are determining factors in robe and slipper selection, says Tracy Harper, director of spa and fitness at the Bayside Spa at Horseshoe Bay Resort (TX). “When I have visited other spas, I find the slippers are narrow, uncomfortable, heavy, and look worn and faded.” With that in mind, she chose Oka B. ,an eco-friendly sandal that could be sanitized on a regular basis without fading, and a microfiber robe from Monarch Cypress that’s lightweight yet warm, soft as flannel, but five times more absorbent than cotton, and uses a third of the energy to dry. Sarah Carroll, assistant general manager of Cooper Spa (Dallas), also recommends taking note of the environment. “You do not want to see thick, heavily lined robes in a hot climate or thin or waffle-weave in cold climates,” she cautions. Spa at Château Élan (Braselton, GA) offers two choices of robes from Monarch Cypress for guests who like the option of a lightweight or a double-layer garment.
Price is also a major issue for spas. Because robes and slippers can be purchased anywhere, says Jessica Howard, the gift shop attendant at the Spa at Château Élan, customers need to justify the higher price points at the spa instead of buying them at other outlets, such as Walmart or Nordstrom. “Many guests think that $95 is too much to spend on a robe, but they are purchasing an accessory that allows them to access a coveted spa atmosphere at home,” says Howard. That’s just one of the reasons you need to ensure your spa’s robes and slippers exceed expectations. According to Faye Wang, spa manager at Wellspring Spa at the Regent Taipei (Taiwan), they should represent the experience spa-goers expect. “Operating a spa at a five-star hotel, we must ensure our amenities are made with the finest quality materials, and this is reflected in the marked price,” says Wang. This is why the spa offers personalized embroidery in alignment with the hotel’s high-level service motto and sells the experience, not just the robes and slippers.
Focus on Inventory Control
As with any apparel or footwear, controlling inventory is one of the greatest challenges for spa owners. “Because guests are normally making an impulse buy, they need to have their size in stock to take advantage of that potential sale,” says Delucca. Stocking male and female sizes in each model and consolidating embroidery or printing helps address the issue. Working with vendors that don’t have order minimums or can turnaround shipments quickly can also allow your spa to expand its color selection and size range without tying up excessive cash in large inventories. Other suppliers offer customization to meet specific needs. “We can assist by offering an outstanding size range, from XS to 5XL. This allows your spa to offer the size allocations necessary to meet every customer’s requirement,” says Delucca. “We have even sewn larger sizes on a custom basis. That level of customer service is rewarded with increased sales revenue.”
Ring in the Retail
According to Choudhry, providing clients with the opportunity to purchase products at the front desk is a way to extend their spa experience and a reminder of the service delivered. Strategic positioning of robes and slippers make robust retail sales more likely. Kara Conrad, director of sales for the spa and resort division of Oka B., advises maximizing product exposure while guests are in the spa. First, staff should wear slippers to showcase them. “It helps when spa employees know a little about the robes and slippers and what makes them so special,” says Rianon Cepriano, spa director at Spa Oceana at Loew’s Don Cesar (St Pete Beach, FL). For example, Under the Canopy fabricates its textiles with certified organic cotton and recycled materials, while Oka B. offers a massaging insole and one-piece construction. “Team members should be as knowledgeable about them as they are about other retail spa products,” says Cepriano.
You’ll also want to offer a test run of robes and slippers in the locker room and during treatments. “That way, guests can experience how great and how comfortable they truly are,” says Cepriano. “The longer they wear them, the more likely they are to buy them.”
Finally, an attractive display near the checkout desk also encourages sales, says Chloe Leach, spa desk supervisor and group coordinator at Spa Grand Traverse (Traverse City, MI). Fashion-forward retail designs and bright colors are eye-catching and add a pop to the spa’s assortment in the boutique, says Conrad. Choudhry also emphasizes the products’ accessibility. “Apparel is very tactile; it needs to be accessible to touch, and it needs to feel luxurious,” she says. Be sure to also change up your spa’s displays often. “If your shop attendants move things around, it will keep selling interesting for them,” says Howard. “Therefore, they will remain excited and passionate about what they’re retailing.”
Another way to amp up sales is to place a little card in the lockers with an offer to take them home at a special price after treatments. Some companies even provide such cards for spas that purchase their textiles and slippers.
Think Outside of the Box
Besides retail displays on the premises, spas are finding other ways to market robes and slippers. Promotions are a critical component of a multi-channel marketing campaign, says DeLucca, who has seen spas offer robe-slipper combos that offer a discount on the purchase of a set. Other spas attached to hotels incorporate them into their overnight packages, while others include them as a package gift in treatments. “The perfect finish to a pedicure is a cute new pair of sandals,” says Conrad.
Seasonal and event-specific promotions can also be converted into lucrative sales. “Holidays such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day are naturals,” says Delucca. “Robes as bridal gifts are a hot commodity, and every spa should have a bridal package.” He also suggests adopting an e-store concept to offer more selection. “We see variety as a critical success factor trending in retail,” says Delucca. “The hot retailers are now bringing in the latest fashions on a continuous basis at affordable price points. While that level of sophistication may not be required at a spa, offering more selection and value will enhance sales.”
Envelope your clients in comfort and style with plush robes and slippers from the following companies.—Jessica Morrobel
A La Turca Textiles www.alaturcatextiles.com
Andrew Morgan Collection www.morgan collection.com
Bath Accessories Company www.bathacces sories.com
Boca Terry www.bocaterry.com
Chadsworth & Haig www.candhrobes.com
Hollywood Face www.hollywoodface.com
Kashwére www.kashwere athome.com
Majestic International www.majestic international.com
Monarch Cypress www.monarchrobe.com
Noel Asmar Uniforms www.noelasmar uniforms.com
Oka B. www.oka-b.com
Sensi Sandals www.sensi.com
The Mansfield Robe Company www.mansfield robes.com
The Turkish Towel Company www.turkish towelcompany.com
Under the Canopy www.underthe canopy.com
Universal Companies www.universal companies.com
Yeah Baby www.yeahbabypl.com
Yoga Sandals www.yogasandals.com