The state of the spa industry has never been more promising. With various industry studies placing annual growth rates at around 20 percent the prospect of adding spa services to your fitness facility has never looked better.

A recent Spa Association (SPAA) poll showed the spa industry growing at 23 percent in 2002 with 2003 projected to have continued accelerated growth. Interestingly, one of the components to future growth projections is the various market segments and how they are being attracted to the trend.

Boomers are becoming Zoomers. This new segment of the baby boomer group is among the first to retire but they are not retiring quietly. Rather than choosing a retirement villa in Florida and favoring bingo to unwind, the newly retired are staying put in their region of the country. They are downsizing to condos and smaller homes. They are favoring living facilities that have amenities close by, and among their favorite ways to relax are wellness centers, spa visits and adding regular exercise to their lives, especially softer forms of fitness like Pilates and yoga. Zoomers want to feel better and increasingly want to feel better more than they want to look better. They also make up a large percent of membership targets for health clubs.

According to SPAA the 35 to 55 age group is the other core set of spa-goers. At the height of their careers this group includes more men than any other segment of the spa-going market. Medical spas play the most integral role with this group, because they are the most likely to seek invasive therapies for changing or enhancing their appearance. This group has the most disposable income to spend and is the most likely to return for series treatments. In choosing a facility this group is most likely to prefer convenient hours that work around their hectic lifestyles and will choose quality over lower pricing. And, turning your facility into a one-stop shop for both their fitness and relaxation needs allows you to attract them and fit into their busy schedule.

Gen-X'ers and their younger counterparts are seeking out spas for entertainment and for preventative care. Seemingly coming of age in the day spa era, this group has more money to spend at spas and offering the services at fitness facilities opens membership opportunities to a young and influential demographic. Spa-goers as young as 21 are opting for Botox injections and other similar services to prevent wrinkles — adding exercise to this routine seems a natural alternative or addition. Teens are into visiting the spa as a routine in their young lives and are investing more in upscale product lines to guarantee that their skin will remain young looking for as long as possible.

Attractive Amenities

Adding spa amenities to an existing fitness facility can be easy if it is done correctly the first time. Many fitness facilities have added spa treatments to their offerings either at the original build-out phase or as an addition and faced dismal failure. Oftentimes, the spa rooms were too sparse or the build out was not correctly planned. In order to launch a spa in your existing site or in a new facility, certain steps should be followed to ensure the success of your spa. Consider the following elements to building or adding an effective spa to your facility and see if your bottom line doesn't benefit from the pampering of your members.

  • A quiet space is important. Many times, fitness facilities overlook the fact that spa rooms need to be in the most secluded, quiet and womb-like portion of the building. When clients are receiving a massage or facial, they need to be able to hear a pin drop. Adding massage rooms to your locker room or putting spa rooms in your whirlpool area simply won't cut it.

  • Space is money. A typical treatment room can be as large as a 10×10 space but no larger. Making each treatment room as multifunctional as possible is also a good idea. This means that treatment rooms should be able to accommodate 75 percent of your overall services. At the very least, treatment tables should be able to service massage, facials and body treatments.

  • The spa is not the weight room. While fitness and spa are complementary as industries, they are not the same industry. Managing personal trainers is a world apart from managing aestheticians.

  • Hire an industry expert. Hiring an expert, whether for an hour's worth of phone consulting or an on-site visit, can be worth its weight in gold.

  • Run your spa as a separate facility. While cross marketing is a good idea, cross-managing oftentimes is not. Unless your spa only amounts to a single massage room, managing the spa as a separate profit center is highly advised.

  • Don't cheat on your spa. A spa in your fitness facility is not just to look pretty, nor is it simply an amenity to be offered as a perk. Your spa can be a workhorse and a cash cow but you have to give it all of the attention that you give to the rest of your business.

  • Cross-market. Having two viable business segments that complement one another in the same building can be lucrative and naturally successful.

  • Market your spa. While you are selling club memberships, why not sell membership packages to your spa? Enhanced club memberships can include monthly trips to the spa for facials, massages and other treatments at slightly reduced costs.

  • Have monthly specials for fitness and spa. Whenever possible, market complementary additional services as an add-on to the basic membership fee. For instance, just before bikini season, market contouring services with personal training sessions.

  • Promote both segments of your facility. By offering entertaining and educational seminars that speak to the issues of fitness and healthful relaxation you can motivate your members to participate in more of the amenities offered at your facility and give them more value for the membership costs.

  • Refine services. If you are currently offering spa services in your facility, there are many ways to increase the profitability of those items that you do offer.

  • Assume the sale. By assuming that fitness clients are interested in spa services your staff can actually set the tone for creating more opportunities for spa sales. Promoting spa services should start with membership sales and continue with ongoing monthly promotions. Phone voice mail services can educate your members about the spa amenities and front desk staff can continue the trend with each member transaction.

  • Increase retail. If retail isn't a strong profitability factor in your club it should be. Retail is like icing on the cake; it is the extra profit that could go unnoticed. Training staff at the front of the club to sell retail is as important as prioritizing the sale of spa products within that portion of the facility.

  • The advantage of the add on. Once the service sale has been made there is much opportunity to increase the sale by adding to the base service. For instance, a body polish can be added to a massage service or a paraffin dip added to a facial.

  • In order to learn more about opening a day sap in your facility visit the Club Industry Spa Experience at the Club Industry Show in Chicago Oct. 9-11 or The Spa Association by going to its Web site at www.thespaassociation.com or by calling 970-226-6145.