In the wake of September 11, a lot of spa businesses who have positioned themselves as luxurious pamper palaces are finding their appointment books a little empty. It's time to realign our message with profound, serious stress
relief, emotional balancing and results-oriented therapies. Buh-bye, chocolate milk baths. Hello, hypnotherapy. Here are some ideas for making spas more relevant to the 'new' spa consumer.

? Babysitting services, even once a week, to attract stay at home moms to the spa in the slowest hours.

? In-home parties featuring spa products and small equipment, like heated booties, neck pillows, etc. Inspired by the Kitchenaid in-home cooking school. (See this month's issue of Fast Company magazine). Teach them to do rudimentary spa 'treatments' themselves at home, for themselves and spouses. Take orders for things they try and want to buy, from a catalogue. Massage tables, massage supplies. (You don't have to inventory the bigger equipment; it can be ordered as needed and shipped directly from the manufacturer.)

? Reach more women at work through deliveries, offer some perks (free seated massage for an hour once a week) to the corporations who now can't afford their own. In exchange, ask them to allow you to take a 'spa cart' through the office with cosmetics, skin care, aromatherapy, small gifts, cards, even pre-programmed gift cards in denominations like $25, $50 and $100. etc., like a lunch vendor would. Or a spa 'roach coach' that pulls up in corporate parking lots around lunchtime.

? Talk about the different kinds of stress, including anxiety, which affects women more than men. Offer anti-anxiety treatments. Flower Essence Energy treatments are great for emotional equilibrium.

? Spas should focus on the social benefits of hanging out in a safe, relaxing place. Right now people are longing for community; spas can provide that. They may not be as vegetative, they could become more social and clublike, or
have club rooms for reading, relaxing. Evening classes and workshops.

We think a few trends emerging from this disaster will be:

1. more cocooning, but with a social quality. At home entertaining. People want to be around other people for comfort but they don't want to go 'out' as

2. STRESS increases...position services for stress relief, especially to attract men.

3. Less planning ahead, more impulse appointments. 'Life is uncertain, but I want a massage today.' You may need to develop on call staff resources.

4. More people will want at-home spa care for stress relief. In home services may become a viable part of spa operations.

5. Self indulgence, pampering, luxury will be bad words (we already hated 'em!) Self care, stress relief, and emotional balancing will be the new buzzwords.

6. More couples and families will visit the spa together as 'alternative social/recreational' activities. Mother-daughter programs, Father-son programs.

Let us know if you have any interesting ideas for 're-inventing' your spa!

Peggy Wynne Borgman
[email protected]