First ever SpaExec in the Big Easy!

Friday, June 18 was the first-ever SpaExec event in The Big Easy, New Orleans.  Over sixty Spa Directors and staff from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast gathered for a fun and worthwhile evening of education, networking, and shopping.

Attendees mingled, enjoyed wine and hor’s d’ouevres, and met with vendors, who displayed and sampled their newest products and services.  The group also convened for the educational portion of the evening, beginning with a keynote lecture entitled “Optimizing Social Media Strategy”, presented by Kayla Morgan, Principal of Aveda Network Marketing, and Nikki Brown, Principal of Imaginal Marketing Group.  The presentation gave 10 best practice tips, outlined below, and really made it clear that participating in social media is no longer optional.  Clients are consistently moving away from email and into these other methods of communicating with their favored brands and businesses.

#1 use a Facebook Business Page, not a friend profile. Business pages allow more content and customized navigation, and are more flexible.  If you already have a “friend” page, you can start a business page and transition your consumers over to the new page.

#2 Build your Fan Base.  Email your existing client database with links to your online collateral materials so they can find you easily.  Put social media links on all of your advertising and marketing materials.

#3 Use Facebook to Attract New Customers.  Unlike profile pages, business pages allow you to run advertisements, and you can set your own budget.  You can specify the demographics and monitor the results with built-in tracking metrics, and you can turn the ad on and off as you need to.

#4 Engage Your Audience, don’t just talk about yourself.  Be authentic. Give exclusive offers.  Make it a conversation, not a monologue.  Be creative to generate interest and buzz.  Some owners are not using email anymore, just doing offers through Facebook, so they reward loyalty.  If clients post on your page, talk back to them!

#5 Bring Successful Programs Online.  Referral programs and in-store promotions can be taken online; friends will refer friends and the open rates are much higher than typically digital advertisements.  Some spas are doing offers such as $20 off for a service the client has never had before, or for clients who haven’t visited in six months.

#6 Claim Your Business Online. Make sure you are monitoring your business mentions on Google Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Citysearch, Bing, and Superpages.com.  You need to go in as the owner and claim your business.  Once you have claimed the businesses, the different platforms allow you to interact with clients in different ways, such as responding to those who leave negative feedback, or even removing damaging information.

#7 Grow and Manage Your Online Reviews.  Post positive reviews and invite others to comment.  Your web page can post links to your Facebook reviews to bring traffic there.  Showed example of Paris Parker posting links to reviews on the Facebook page.  Make sure you know what is being said about your business.

#8 Create a Blog. Search engines love content, so fresh updated blog entries are great for your SEO.  The blog allows you to give a voice to your business, with no cost.  Integrate the blog with your website and Facebook page.  Some spas have different staff members writing about their specific subject matter expertise.

#9 Schedule Social Media Time, a minimum of 3x a week.  If you’re not internet savvy, get help from a 20-something staff member.  Keep the conversation going, post pictures of events, highlight staff members, be involved.  All it takes is time, which is in short supply, but the results are worth it, and there are no costs other than time.

#10 Stay Tuned.  The online landscape changes every day.  Twitter advertising and Google Wave are in beta testing, Itunes and Xbox are integrating Facebook & Twitter, location aware networks like GoWalla and FourSquare are the next big things.  You need to play along so you can keep up.

Following the keynote was a panel discussion on Loyalty Programs and Client Retention, featuring Vera Bibb, Spa Director at The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans; Kim Dudek, Owner of Belladonna Day Spa in New Orleans, and Stacy Marcum, Spa Director at L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort in St. Charles.  The spa directors shared different methods they had used to attract and retain a local clientele, including loyalty and points programs, referral discounts, shopping discounts during birthday months, and hand-written thank you notes from technicians.  Marcum shared that his main focus on building retention was to “deliver what you advertise.”  He audits staff monthly and collects client feedback to ensure that both the facility and the staff are meeting or exceeding client expectations, and judging from all of the Houstonians who travel to L’Auberge on the weekends, the spa is succeeding on that front!  Says Marcum, “For today’s spa-goer, the value proposition is a real driver for repeat business.” You can say that again!

As always, we thank our generous sponsors, listed below, for their support in making SpaExec happen.

Universal Companies                            MD Corrective

Pevonia Botanica                                    Michael Marcus

Oakworks                                                   Nava Natural

BeingTRUE                                                Pino Natural Spa Therapy

Chadsworth & Haig                                Sanitas

DermAware                                             Sparituals

Harms Software                                     Spa De Soleil

Infinity Sun                                             SpaUniforms

KaplanMD                                                Sothys

Matis                                                          Your Name Professional Brands

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