The growth of the spa component within the travel and meeting industries is continuing unabated, both internationally and within the United States. A new hotel or resort, or the renovation of an existing one, will, without question, include the construction or expansion of spa facilities.
Golf and spas have become twin amenities these days for corporate planners. It's as if you can't have one without the other. Planners have discovered that resorts with both championship golf and a high-profile spa appeal to a wide range of tastes and needs, and golfers have fallen in love with spas because they provide a soothing respite after a long day of play.
Marketing to groups and keeping the spa busy through out the day can be a challenge. For example, if the property has a group in-house that is taking most of the guest rooms but is in meetings all day, the spa director and marketing manager can see this ahead of time from the forecast and offset this potential lack of spa business by reaching out to the local market for those days. Another way to yield manage is to try to get the local market to book spa services at times that are less desirable for resort guests. Offering special spa spousal packages to conferees and group business participants encourages down time spa usage while increasing hotel revenue.
Other group business tips include:
- Offer shortened (therefore cheaper) versions of basic spa treatments.
- Leave the weekends for the leisure travelers and day-trippers and book Monday to Thursday for the most negotiating leverage.
- Build mini-spa sessions into the meeting format. Breaks at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in California are an energizing experience. Pure oxygen can be pumped into the ballrooms to provide a natural and healthy pick-me-up, while a new Food for Thought menu features "brain food" (high protein/low carb items). Breaks include chilled aromatherapy towels and a selection of Ojai waters (in flavors such as cucumber-citrus) or lavender tea. Coffee is served with java jackets inscribed with sayings and quotes that inspire productivity and creative thinking.
- Negotiate a percentage discount based on reaching a certain level of spending in the spa.
- Offer a percent discount off published spa rates, complimentary spa treatments for VIPs, and current year's pricing at contract signing.
- Package the spa with golf at the neighboring golf courses and other activities to offer a more comprehensive program and perhaps increase length of stay.
- Plan for one of the group's functions to take place in the spa as a fun alternative to traditional group activities.
By Eva Jensch, Principal, Spa Concepts International www.spaconcepts.com