November 8, 2012
As spas increasingly become a necessity rather than a luxury, more and more hotels are recognizing the value of this amenity. For many hotels, spas should be identified as an area of opportunity. However, many fall short by not positioning themselves correctly. Ultimately, it all depends on how the spa is marketed, managed and maintained.
For hotels in the mid- to upper-scale segments, hotel amenities including restaurants and spas can account for as much as 20 percent of the bottom line. Hotels may underestimate the true value of their spa and may not be using this asset to its fullest potential. Lack of advertising, location and size of the spa, staffing and management, menu and amenities are all factors that can make or break a hotel spa.
Many hotel operators unknowingly make key mistakes when it comes to their spas. Whether new or established, it is possible to restore the spa’s image and increase revenues. Here are some ways to make the most of your hotel spa, insuring it becomes a value to your guest and to the hotel’s overall revenue.
Marketing and Advertising
One of the most detrimental revenue drains in hotel spas is inadequate marketing, advertising and signage.
Potential guests often base their selection of a hotel on a spa amenity. To ensure advance exposure, invest in online advertising for the hotel’s website and social media forums. Guests then have the opportunity to explore all of the amenities prior to booking. Social media offers reasonably-priced ads and promotions that can build awareness—eventually increasing hotel and spa reservations.
Hotel guests should be made aware of the spa prior to their visit, should be reminded of the spa amenity upon arrival, see spa signage throughout hotel and find a spa menu in every room.
Location and Size of Spa
One common mistake is offering a disproportionate number of services compared with the size of the space. For example, offering only a handful of services in an extremely large spa or offering too many menu items in a small, cramped space can be detrimental to the overall success of the business. A result of this imbalanced ratio is an overpriced service menu. Having a smaller, specialized space can be much more valuable than having a little bit of everything.
Staff and Management
Every spa requires highly skilled, trained professionals and a management team that will ensure productivity and proficiency among the staff. Consider carefully the staff candidates, making sure they have the proper training and necessary certification for their position. Have clear cleanliness and housekeeping guidelines for each section of the spa (pedicure tubs, hair stations, massage areas, etc.) to maintain proper sanitation practices.
Additionally, consistent customer service will keep guests coming back. Conduct ongoing training to ensure consistency; for example, establish how each guest is greeted, how phones are answered and how payment is discussed. Encourage guests to verbalize any concerns or requests during treatments. This will ensure they have a positive experience and will come back, write a good review or recommend a friend. For those that write reviews online or through social media, thank guests for visiting and track guests who had less-than-perfect experiences to confirm that you welcome and learn from the feedback.
Menu and Amenities
In addition to excellent customer service and ambiance, spas are set apart by their unique menus and amenities. Customize the spa’s menu to different types of guests that may visit the hotel—mother and daughter mani/pedis, couples massage, services for men, traveler’s foot massage, sports enthusiast, etc.
If space allows, offer changing areas or locker rooms for guests to feel as comfortable as possible and refresh after their spa service. Consider a steam room or sauna for a post-massage treat.
A lack of retail or poor product inventory can also damper the experience. Have sufficient product on hand to compliment any service offered. A best practice is to require all therapists to educate, provide professional written recommendation and offer retail product to all guests.
When properly maintained, a hotel spa can become a profitable revenue source. It is essential that hotel operators and spa managers work hand-in-hand to create a mutually beneficial relationship and the best possible experience for their guests. By implementing some of the suggestions above, all parties can enjoy the perks that come with the presence of a hotel spa as an amenity.
About the author
Kim Stevens is the owner of four Woodhouse Day Spas, two of which operate in luxury hotels in San Antonio Texas. As the president of The Woodhouse Hospitality Group, she oversees this national program dedicated to helping struggling hotel spas restore their image and generate increased revenues. Recognizing the need for healthy spa options, The Woodhouse Hospitality Group works with hotel operators to renew distressed spas by revamping the services, re-training staff and implementing proven marketing techniques. For more information, visit http://woodhousehg.com.