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Coyle Hospitality Group has released the results of their 2005 Spa Industry Survey. In an effort to measure spa performance, Coyle Hospitality Group surveyed 2969 people, representing consumers throughout the United States. The survey covered a variety of service related issues from how many treatments are booked per visit and key enjoyment/disappointment factors, to treatments requested and where spa products are purchased.

The survey participators were mostly female (2672) between 18 and 61+ years of age, with the majority of respondents in the 23-30 (613), 30-40 (999), and 40-50 (742) age categories. The average amount those surveyed said they spent on spa services annually was $912.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of the people surveyed visited Resort/Hotel Spas at least one time in the last year. The following are how other spa categories ranked: Salon (83%), Day Spa, (72%), Club Spa (27%), Destination Spa (23%).

Satisfaction Drivers

The survey showed that generally people are satisfied with their spa services, with 42% responding their experiences were somewhat satisfactory and 47% saying they were satisfactory.

When asked what the top factors were that contributed to a satisfactory and unsatisfactory experience, the top four responses were the same for both satisfactory and unsatisfactory experiences: Quality of Service Provider, Cleanliness, Value, and Friendliness of Service Provider.

A. Quality of Treatment Provider

The lead response on both accounts was the quality of the treatment provider. When asked to describe their positive experiences, spa-goers stressed that the service provider was proactively communicative, responsive to requests, and in-tune with the spa-guest's specific concerns or ailments.

When asked about their poor experiences, spa-goers cited most often that the treatment or technique did not meet their expectations and that the service provider was unresponsive to requests. Common threads were those service providers who appeared to be following protocol without any personalization for the client.

Clearly, spas benefit when service providers seek out information from the guest before, during and after the treatment.

B. Cleanliness

Cleanliness specifics sited for positive experiences were clean, airy, and uncrowded facilities that provided a comfortable and sanitary experience. On the other end of the spectrum were the presence of insects, an unkempt appearance, unsanitary procedures, and the overall appearance and smell of the establishment.

C. Value/Time per Dollar

Value (time per dollar) was the third leading factor. In positive experiences, value was surmised as something that added value like facilities to use, surprise additions to treatments, and overall quality of the service as it related to price. Making a person feel 'pampered' or that the experience is 'luxurious' was a justification for the expense.

The strongest driver of dissatisfaction with spa-goers was feeling shorted on treatment time. Respondents consistently stated that if a treatment is listed as a specific time for a specific price, they are due the full duration or they feel they have been cheated.

D. Friendliness of Service Provider

Friendliness of the service provider, the final top response, was clear in positive experiences. Most spa-goers said that they sought a professional provider who made them feel 'nurtured and welcome.'

Spa-goers were quick to point out that service providers who were 'overly conversational', or commented on 'touchy subjects' were a negative. Taboo subjects most mentioned by spa goers were: weight, age, posture, and being 'scolded' for products they chose prior to the treatment.

Likeliness to Complain & Service Recovery

Only 61% of those surveyed said they were likely or very likely to complain if they were disappointed with their spa experience somehow. The top three reasons cited were: They did not want to hurt the provider's feelings, they felt uncomfortable due to the personal nature of the treatment, and they were uncertain whether their complaint was valid.

These points above speak directly to the main driver of satisfaction mentioned earlier: Quality of Service Provider. Establishing approachability, opening a meaningful dialogue and instilling a sense of comfort would bring complaints or misgivings forward.

For those that did voice complaints, the results were encouraging. Spa complaints were 'often' or 'always resolved' to satisfaction over 60% of the time.

The bad news is that only half of the spa-goers who did not complain would consider returning if the experience was disappointing. They would simply not come back, leaving the spa director none the wiser

Not surprisingly, 98% of those surveyed said they were 'unlikely' or 'highly unlikely' to return if a complaint was registered but not addressed to their satisfaction.

Conversely, if the complaints were handled satisfactorily, 83% said they were likely or highly likely to return.
In studying the results, CHG saw some unique quality dynamics specific to the spa industry. The personality and professionalism of the treatment provider trumps all other drivers of satisfaction to the positive and negative. Because the highly personalized interactions often happen behind closed doors and beyond the means of traditional supervision, spa management must actively and discretely seek feedback from guests.