By Ian Saunders, CEO and co-founder at CryoAction
Few people will turn down an opportunity to visit a spa, whether standalone or as part of a hotel. After all, they are places of relaxation and indulgence, an escape from everyday life.
However, that very luxuriousness also brings challenges for hotels, spas and wellness centres. If their services are seen as one-offs or once-in-a-while treats, then it can be difficult to attract regular, repeat customers – the foundations of sustainable revenue and long-term business success.
How, then, can hotels and spas keep customers coming back with an experience to remember? Let’s consider three key stages: attracting said customers before their first visit; ensuring an outstanding experience when they do visit, and encouraging them to come back for repeat treatments.
Before the first visit
Attracting new customers in the first place requires a strategic approach to marketing and communications, and an understanding of the different customer demographics who may wish to visit. The International Spa Association (IPSA), for example, has reported that millennials and generation X have the greatest ‘spa spending’ power and are more likely to look for a ‘digital detox’ in their spa experience, whilst generation Z are more likely to visit in groups, with friends (and post to social media about it afterwards).
Savvy spas and hotels should consider these different approaches and market themselves accordingly, considering how social media and online referrals can bring new, younger customers through the doors, and how marketing a true ‘switch off’ experience can appeal to older demographics.
It is important to strike a careful balance between evolving and adding treatments in line with new research and emerging technologies, but not positioning a hotel or spa as blindly following the latest trends. The beauty and wellness industry is particularly susceptible to trends – remember the craze for fish pedicures in early 2010 – but treatments which are seen as faddish or ineffective quickly fall out of favour, and can actually do a spa’s brand more harm than good. Treatments, such as cryotherapy, that offer a whole host of health and wellbeing benefits could ensure customers come back for more. The three-minute, extreme cold -135 degree, whole-body cryotherapy treatment, for example offers a range of health and wellbeing benefits including easing the pain of chronic health symptoms, increasing recovery from sports and muscular injuries, anti-inflammatory qualities, boosting the quality of sleep, and improving depression, anxiety and wellness.
Clearly, the foundational principle of attracting repeat customers has to be providing the very best service possible – but there are several different facets to this. It means employing the best, highly skilled and experienced therapists. It means ensuring that the physical environment of your spa is serene and relaxing, and finished to a high quality. And above all, it means ensuring that the treatments and services on offer cover a range of different options, are delivered perfectly and are truly effective.
It is becoming increasingly common for spas to balance relaxation and beauty services with health and medicine-based treatments, ultimately offering a more holistic experience. This can be a great way for spas to respond to the growing interest in health and fitness, and to harness the latest technologies, but again, they must be careful not to just jump on board with the latest trends. Where spas and hotels introduce more technical or medical treatments, they must be careful to choose medical-grade equipment and procedures which are backed up by science.
Get this balance right, however, and customers can be offered a truly rounded spa experience, with beauty and stress-relief combined with relief from troubling physical symptoms.
Once a new customer’s first spa visit is all wrapped up, there are two factors in keeping them coming back for more. The obvious one is, of course, efficacy of the treatment. A facial which does not improve the skin; a pain-relieving treatment which makes no discernible difference; a massage which does not leave the customer feeling relaxed – none of these are likely to lead to much repeat business. Once again, choosing procedures, products and equipment which are backed up by science and plenty of positive reviews is essential.
The second factor is how the spa or hotel communicates with that customer afterwards. The value of follow-up marketing and communications should not be underestimated, and it can take many forms. Following up with a special offer for a repeat treatment – or even better, booking the customer in for a discounted repeat treatment as they leave is a classic for a reason. Asking customers to post reviews and tagged photos to social media can be powerful in driving the friend referrals, which are increasingly common amongst younger spa visitors. And of course, ensuring that all existing customers are kept up-to-date when an exciting new treatment or product is introduced can be a tempting factor in getting them back through the doors.
In an era where consumers are increasingly concerned with spending their money on experiences rather than one-off things, and where health, wellness and fitness are as high on the agenda as looking good, there are clear opportunities for spas and hotels. By tailoring their service offerings in line with these changing consumer patterns, and ensuring thoughtful, tailored and creative customer communication, they can create truly competitive and sustainable business offerings.