Creative Spa Programming

In programming a club spa, a common mistake is to "transplant" popular, high-profile spa services - the kind typically offered at resort spas - into our industry. This approach may achieve a modicum of success, but it is surely the least effective way of developing a treatment program that will maximize sales at your club.

Programming Needs to Be Market Driven
Spa programming in a club setting needs to be conceived in terms of the needs and expectations of your target market. It also needs to be appropriate to your industry market segment.

The spa industry market segments (i.e., destination, resort/hotel and day spas) differ significantly from one another in terms of buyer demographics, treatment emphasis and goals. For example, one significant difference is that people who go to resort spas usually only visit once; day-spa goers, on the other hand, make repeated visits. Accordingly, programming can be more therapeutic and goal-oriented, as progress toward a goal can be easily measured and realized in the day-spa (or club) setting.

To get the best indication of what will be successful at your club, spend the time and money researching the different buyer groups likely to use your spa. Keep in mind your target market is two-fold: members and non-members from the local community. (Few club spas can subsist on business from members alone.)

Survey your membership regarding which spa services they would be most interested and willing to purchase at the club. Research indicates that the most in-demand services are massage, facials and nail services, and hair styling the least popular service.

With regard to the local community, investigate all day-spa competition that exists within a five- to seven-mile radius of the club. Conduct focus groups comprising affluent local residents (one for males, the other for females) to provide you with valuable programming input. In return for their help, you can offer them a complimentary spa service.

Spa Services Most in Demand
Generally speaking, spa programming that addresses practical beauty and grooming needs (e.g., nail services, scrubs, waxing, facials) and therapeutic modalities (e.g., neuromuscular and sports massage, acupuncture, Shiatsu, nutritional counseling and assessments) and anti-aging treatments tend to do the best. Members are extremely time-pressed, so shorter-length services that can be tacked on to the end of a regularly scheduled visit to the club, such as a 25-minute massage (specific to an area) or mini-facial, are popular.

Members also tend to book impulsively and often wait until the last minute. Since this is very detrimental to planning your payroll effectively, mount an effort to encourage members to book their services at least a few days in advance - to ensure they get the therapist and the time slot they desire.

On the other hand, you can also cash in on member impulsiveness. Offer blackboard specials at the front desk during afternoon prime time in which you publicize last-minute ap-pointment availabilities, as well as any specials or discounts.

Members Are Price-sensitive
In order to encourage member trial and achieve long-term success, offer preferential pricing on spa services to your members. This pricing can be in the form of a discount of 10 to 25 percent taken at the point of sale. There is no need to print this discounted member price in your spa brochure. Members can be made aware of this valuable membership perk through normal club communications.

Service Is Your Key to Success
As in the membership business, your spa's success will hinge on two pivotal factors: client referral and client retention. This means that the service component of what you offer needs to be consistently five-star. Never lose sight of the fact that your key organizational asset is your spa staff, and there is no substitute for good hiring decisions, staff training and development, and on-going quality control.

Deborah Smith is president of Smith Club & Spa Specialists of Aspen, Colo., which provides spa development, design, marketing and programming consulting services to the spa industry. She can be contacted at Spasmith@aol.com.


Keys to Club Spa Success

- Offer shorter, lower-priced treatments to attract members.
- Use the package format and bundle spa treatments with other fitness or wellness services.
- Offer members preferential pricing on spa services.
- Feature holistic, therapeutic treatments.
- Keep it simple. If your front desk can't explain it, you won't sell it!


What's Hot

Research indicates that the most in-demand services are:
- massage
- facials
- nail services
- hair styling was the least popular service.