Staycation Nation

The "staycation," America's stay-at-home vacation trend, is hammering the travel industry this summer. Economic slowdown and the horrors of summer air travel have caused many people to reconsider their plans for long vacations and especially trips abroad. Even affluent consumers are feeling this shift in sensibility; as news reports teem with stories of downtrodden consumers who can't afford to gas up their cars to go to work, conspicuous consumption has become a bit too...conspicuous. It's suddenly chic to be sensible. (An added bonus: one can often be "green" and sensible in one fell swoop.)

Europe's loss may be US spa operators' gain, however. Guests who previously headed to Tuscany for a couple of weeks are taking "consolation vacations" and treating themselves to spa visits close to home. Not just the odd massage or facial, but a day at the spa, with all the bells and whistles. These "sensible sybarites" are staycationing in your spa. Compared to a $5,000 trip to Fiji, a $500 spa package is a fabulous bargain.

We recognized this phenomenon halfway through the summer, when sales at our Preston Wynne Spa in California's Silicon Valley jumped 28% from the previous year. Other spa owners began to report similar behavior from their guests.

While I would have loved to be a bit further ahead of the Staycation curve, this trend won't end with summer. Here are some thoughts about how to market to this customer:

- Staycation guests are receptive to indulgent, all-inclusive spa packages; dust those holiday favorites off, call them "Staycation Specials" and put them front and center in your marketing campaign.

- Provide ideas for other staycation pleasures near your spa; wineries, art galleries or museums, botanical gardens.

- Have a drawing for a "staycation" package at the spa to increase awareness

- Increase awareness by talking about "staycationing" in your marketing and in person, with guests. Concepts like "staycations" grow in popularity when they are recognized and named.

By Peggy Wynne Borgman, CEO, Wynne Business