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24 Sep 2017 Spa Business Handbook
 

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Spa Business Handbook - Spa-goer Insights

Europe Research

From Spa Business Handbook 2016 issue 1
Spa-goer Insights


We pick out some top points from the UK’s annual Good Spa Guide Survey to give an indication of what spa-goers want

The scope of spa facilities are the key driver for visits the survey shows photo: Alexander House
Nearly 75 per cent of UK spa-goers would try an alternative therapy to a massage photo: SPA AT THE MIDLANDS
Consumers want more info on machine-led treatments like Elemis’ Biotec
Ninety-five per cent of people say they’d take time off mid-week for a spa day photo: MODDERSHALL OAKS

Location and price are important factors when choosing a spa for UK consumers, but the overriding drive is the scope of facilities that are on offer. This was just one of the findings revealed in the 2015 Good Spa Guide Survey (see Chart 1) details of which were released in February.

The Good Spa Guide is a UK consumer-facing magazine, book and website which reviews around 100 spas a year. The survey was based on the answers of 563 of its users – people who are serious about spas and make up to four visits a year. So what else did they have to say?

Views on wellness
In the survey, nearly 75 per cent of people said they’d try an alternative therapy such as mindful meditation or shiatsu during a spa day, compared to 25 per cent who said they wouldn’t. These findings are interesting as they indicate that spa-goers are ready and waiting for something more than a massage and they’re bang on the wellness trend, according to Daphne Metland, managing director of the Good Spa Guide. She says: “For consumers, wellness is a really simple concept – maybe too simple if they’re just after alternative therapies – but they understand it, want it and expect it.

“But I think the spa industry hasn’t grasped it yet. There are so many different opinions about wellness that it’s confusing. The sector needs just one simple message about wellness because people are reading about it and want to spend their money on it.”

Hands-only or machine-led?
Having a facial which is machine-led is something that UK spa-goers feel unsure about compared to a hands-only one. Eighty per cent of the survey respondents have never had a machine-based facial and, what’s more, 78 per cent would be unwilling to try one.

“There’s an education task here,” says Metland. “When the Good Spa Guide spies go to spas we always ask therapists ‘what does this machine do?’ and more often than not they can’t tell us. Owners and operators need to educate therapists to convey the advantages of machines and they also need to educate consumers about them more.” She suggests offering written information, demonstrations and special offers for a first try.

Off peak business
It’s very unusual that a spa will be busy seven days of the week, but there’s more scope to boost week-day custom than you’d expect according to the survey results. Ninety-five per cent of respondents said they’d actually be willing to take a day off work to visit a spa.

Metland says: “If your spa is not busy in the week, you have to ask yourself why. These men and women are willing to take a holiday and you need to ask why they’re not booking into your spa.

“Are your week-day packages too expensive? What are you offering to make it worth taking a day off? They’re making a sacrifice to come mid-week, so maybe you can enhance their spa day. But they’re all willing to do it, which is a good sign.”

Therapist expertise
People who take time out to go to a spa expect to have a good treatment and Good Spa Guide Survey results show consumers are happy to go the extra mile to ensure this happens. Approximately 45 per cent of customers would choose to book a senior therapist over a newly-qualified one given the option. Similarly, 50 per cent of spa-goers also said they’d pay more for an experienced practitioner.

“It’s intriguing – when I go to the dentist, I know who’s going to look at my teeth; when I go to the hairdresser, I know who’s going to do my hair because I book the person. Any other treatment I book, in any other field, I book the person,” says Metland. “However, when I go to a spa, I only book a massage or a facial – I don’t book the individual. And this suggests to me that we should be promoting our therapists, telling consumers about what they’ve done, what their education is, what their experience is, what their speciality is and actually differentiating your staff. Spas who keep their therapists hidden are missing a trick. You enter a spa, sit down, someone comes out and says ‘oh hello, I’m Lucy, I’m your therapist’ – that’s all you know about them.”

She concludes that highlighting your therapists and their skills with pictures and information on websites is a no-brainer as it’s something which consumers want and – importantly – are prepared to pay more for. “What difference would it make to your bottom line if 50 per cent of your guests paid 10 per cent more for their treatments?”

Chart 1:

What makes you book one spa over another?
 



Chart 1

Originally published in Spa Business Handbook magazine 2016 issue 1

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