Sunday, October 30, 2016

What's in the Future of Spa

Spas of tomorrow and into the future will be focusing on experiences rather than services. Why? It’s change driven by technology, shifting viewpoints and needs of our clients. 

More and more we will be using cutting edge technologies. IPads and smart phones are replacing cash registers today.  Tomorrow they will be replacing front desks. Barriers between you and your client will disappear.  You can see it at hotels, restaurants and some boutiques. 

No desk, no office, no desktop credit card machine. Just an iPad or smart phone with a swipe attachment. Receipts sent via email or text. We see it happening around us in many types of business.

Appointments are moving off columned paper and onto the computer.  Clients can schedule appointments from their smart phone or laptop, online. It’s frustrating for people to play phone tag with a busy salon receptionist. Instead, they can log in and book online or submit an appointment request.

ISPA recently shared survey results on the mindset, habits and desires of millennials (1980-1997). Millennials are the up-and-coming group that will take over dominating the economic market as the baby boomers age.

When it comes to appointment scheduling, 40% still prefer to use the phone. But 39% are now scheduling electronically. Only 17% make their appointments in person.

The two key things that attract millennials to your spa are stress reduction and indulgence. The two things that discourage them are finding the time and the expense. And 21% were not familiar with the spa environment and/or spa etiquette.

Millennials love technology. We can use it to educate them in a fun interactive way about what it’s like in the spa. Spa websites and touch screen panels are great for this.

Touch screen windows allow clients to interact 24/7.  Even when you are closed, they can shop or schedule an appointment. It’s a perfect opportunity to educate those millennials in an entertaining way. 

Interactive windows engage the client.  Imagine.  It’s after hours. A group of friends who have been out to dinner, head back to their car and walk past your spa.  The interactive window beckons them. They like the look of your place. “Let’s have a spa day!”  They step up and touch the integrated screen. Choices appear. They pick services, day and time. They tap the screen with their credit card. Done.  You have prepaid appointments scheduled even though your spa is closed.

Touch screen monitors inside the store offer virtual experiences.  Guests can try before they buy.  Some of you may remember in the early 1990's when computers with external cameras and special software allowed a stylist to take an image of the client. The image displayed on the screen.  The stylist could then show the client what she would look like in different hairstyles and colors.

The new touch screens leap this forward. They capture your image and allow you to try on different garments, makeup, hairstyles or colors with no risk and no use of a changing room. It is part of the new virtual reality.  It's a combination of entertainment, experiences and education.  

It engages the client. Millennials love interaction on their terms.  Instead of browsing magazines, they can be dreaming of how great they would look “if”.  

Waiting guests could wander in your reception and retail area and view interactive tablets explaining your fabulous treatments and products.

To enhance the entertainment experience, more spas are adding beverage bars. Wine bars, brew bars, coffee bars, juice bars. Refreshments create a relaxed environment.  They invite you to stay, hang out. Whether it's beverages or additional refreshments, the goal is the same. Create an awesome client experience.

Every few decades attitudes and viewpoints shift.  We are in the midst of a transition. The client doesn’t want just a service salon.  They want an experience location.  They aren’t a customer; they are an individually valued guest. They aren’t looking for a service provider. They want a specialist to help fulfill their dreams. Even at the front desk, it won’t be an appointment scheduler or check out staff. It will be a retail consulting specialist.

The focus will be on the guest. Instead of a menu of generic services, spas will provide personalized guest experiences. This creates a stronger emotional bond. Emotion not logic brings guests in. It also keeps them coming back.  Clients visit to improve self image, feel better about themselves. 

The new buzz word is beauty from the inside out. Nutritional supplements will take their place on the shelves alongside quality result oriented skin care regimes.  Wellness techniques enhance how people feel and look will be part of the experience. The trendy topic of mindfulness will continue to grow in the spa as an aid to wellness and reducing stress.

The most popular treatments are not shifting much.  Massage is still the number one request with manicures and pedicures close behind. Facials come in third in requests.

In their recent survey, iSpa discovered that millennials are changing in how they view spa services. Of the males who had been to a spa in the past year, 52% had a manicure or pedicure. Facials have also shifted. Well over half of the male respondents state they had had a facial at a spa. 

The survey also explored guest’s wishes.  What would most enhance their spa experience? A comfortable waiting area and showering facilities topped the list.  People need a place to fix themselves up after a treatment before they go out into the public.

For many women, leaving looking like a mess makes them self-conscious and uncomfortable. That isn’t a good recipe for their return. It’s an opportunity for cross selling.  If you offer hair services in your spa, ask the guest if they would like a shampoo/style after their massage or facial.

Millennials don't want cookie cutter services.  They want something specialized for them.

While Millennials agree they need technology time-outs, they will love it if there is complimentary Wi-Fi in the reception area. 

When the spa experience is caring, welcoming, enhancing to body, mind and spirit, guests leave feeling better about themselves. They won’t forget how we made them feel. That positive emotional bond will bring them back again.

The good news?  The future is now.  We can build spa experiences today.

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