Pop Stars

The proliferation of pop-up spas, which operate in temporary locations for a limited time, is introducing a dose of health and wellbeing in unexpected places and providing spa brands with a major marketing boost. “Pop-up spas have the opportunity to reach mass markets in highly populated areas and during highly attended events,” says Michael Tompkins, executive recruiter for Hutchinson Consulting and immediate past ISPA chairman. For instance, Live Love Spa recently teamed up with a bevy of spa brands and spas to debut a 20,000-square-foot pop-up spa at the music festival Kaaboo Del Mar. There, participants took advantage of express spa treatments and were able to browse the spa and wellness offerings of a range of brands. “We wanted to bring the best spa experiences to the masses and create more awareness for spa treatments and products in a fun, entertaining, and really accessible way,” says Lisa Michaelis, founder and CEO
of Live Love Spa.

Product companies are definitely taking advantage and benefitting from the pop-up concept. Comfort Zone, ESPA, and Voya, for example, are participating in three different pop-ups at Aqua Sana Spa at Center Parcs Woburn Forest (Bedfordshire, England). The spa is featuring each brand in its retail area for four weeks and providing the use of a treatment room for specialized services. The product companies will also offer a variety of seminars
and workshops that highlight their philosophies.

According to Tompkins, Millennials are driving the trend for pop-ups. “Millennials love one-of-a-kind, authentic experiences that hold similar values to their own,” he says. “They also like things that are easy and affordable. Pop-ups offer both.” Spa owners are also recognizing the exposure to be gained from the concept. When Kamalaya Koh Samui (Thailand) partnered with Bamford Haybarn Spa (Daylesford, England) to introduce a pop-up there as part of a two-day Condé Nast Traveller event this past September, it gave the Thai spa a chance to connect with European spa-goers. “Some of the advantages that pop-up spas have versus traditional spas is that they can directly reach a geo-targeted consumer that fits within their demographic,” says Tompkins. “Also, because pop-ups are usually tied to an event of some kind, those attending the event feel as if that spa brand is exclusively for them, notching up the level of panache for the brand. Of course, probably the most beneficial is the lack of overhead expense in a pop-up versus a traditional one.”

Starting as a pop-up spa company before opening a brick-and-mortar location, Oasis Day Spa (Dobbs Ferry, NY, and New York City) was one of the first to tap into the convenience pop-ups offer time-pressed consumers. “Time is such a precious commodity at major companies where relaxation and wellness services have exploded,“ says owner Bruce Schoenberg. “Employers recognize the value of keeping staff happy and productive, and pop-up spas have become ubiquitous in corporations. At special events, they are popular because they’re considered a luxe amenity.” In addition to offering pop-up spas at various trade shows throughout the country, Oasis also participates in numerous charitable events around the New York City area. “The popularity of the wellness and spa lifestyle is here to stay, and the services are an important component of so many people’s lifestyles,” says Schoenberg. “I expect it to only grow in demand.”

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