Revealing Insights

The key to running a successful business is understanding the customers you serve. While you may think you know your clientele, the results of a recent spa survey may prove otherwise. Teaming up to get the lowdown on spa-goers' buying patterns, spending habits, and more, Coyle Hospitality Group, a leading hospitality market research and quality assurance firm, and WTS International, a world leader in spa management and consulting, recently introduced their Spa Sentiment Research Report 2009. In September, more than 1,300 active spa-goers responded to the survey, which asked 38 questions relating to demographics, spa behavior, retail and gift certificates, emerging trends, and spa opinions and experiences. Here are some of the interesting findings that may just help you take your spa to the next level.

Growing Your Clientele

Not surprisingly, this past year has been particularly difficult for many spas, with frequent spa-goers opting for fewer treatments or foregoing them altogether on account of the economic downturn. Attracting new clients is one of the best ways to boost your bottom line. Want to know where to put your marketing dollars? Then consider what you can do to get your existing clients to spread the word. According to the survey, 74 percent of those polled indicated they chose a spa based on a word-of-mouth referral, followed by 43 percent who selected one based on it being within driving distance, and 29 percent who used the internet to find one.

What are some ways you could persuade spa-goers to give your spa a shot? A discount card, a free spa gift, and value-added packages were all mentioned as worthwhile methods (see chart 2). Another result of the recent recession is that of more spas providing add-ons to booked services to increase the perceived value of the experience. According to the survey, bargain and discounted prices, spa-day packages, and all-inclusive add-ons at resorts provided the most added value.

Today's spas offer a host of attributes and amenities to tempt savvy spa-goers. What do they consider most important? Without a doubt, cleanliness topped the list, with 98 percent of those polled saying it was very important. Atmosphere and a professional staff followed closely behind. Spa-goers put less stock in having WiFi, a staffed locker room, and signature products.

In terms of your spa's menu, what treatments should you be offering to lure spa-goers in to your spa? Although massages continue to reign supreme, you may also want to promote your pedicures and facials, as more than 60 percent of respondents cited them as the treatments they most commonly booked. When asked what treatments they would be willing to give up on account of budgeting, more than 25 percent said they would forego manicures, body scrubs, and wraps.

Becoming More Retail-Savvy

With Valentine's Day upon us, now is the perfect time to encourage gift certificate and retail sales. The key to selling more is knowing what your clients want. How else can you stock your shelves with the products they desire? Increase your inventory of facial cleansers, exfoliators, and masks. According to the survey, they ranked highest in terms of spa purchases followed by face, hand, and body lotions or creams (see chart 3). And don't forget to promote your gift certificates. According to the survey, 80 percent of the respondents had purchased spa gift certificates in the past.

Knowing the Trends to Watch

As with every year, new trends come and go. The ones with true staying power and the ability to transition beyond a fleeting trend are those that are embraced by spa-goers (see chart 1). Some trends they found especially appealing are spas that encourage loitering with additional amenities, such as plunge pools, saunas, and ice rooms; holistic spas that focus on the mind, body, and spirit; organic spas that rely on organic products; and green spas that focus on sustainability.

Preparing for the Future

Trends aside, it's important to know what truly motivates individuals to visit a spa. Most of those surveyed cited personal reasons, such as they consider it an integral part of their lifestyle, they need more "me" time, they want to relax, they need to de-stress for their mental health, or they want to feel better. According to the survey, the most significant issue preventing respondents from frequenting a spa is price. With that in mind, you can better prepare for the future with offerings that will fulfill both your clients' wants and needs. For the full report, log on to http://www.coylehospitality.com/press/latest-spa-consumer-trends.asp.

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