The Economic Climate Rains on the Spa Industry Too
By Susie Ellis, the SpaFinder Insider
My twin sister, Katrine, gave me a verbal rap-on-the-knuckles the other day (sisters are good for such things.) I probably deserved it.
Since she is on my blog list that automatically receives an email with my posts, she will often email me with some, often encouraging, remarks. Not this time. She told me that after reading the blog about my trip to the Bahamas and the following post about our record Father’s Day gift certificate sales, it was obvious that I was not being sensitive to what most people are going through right now. The reality is that things are tough. The economy is suffering, gas prices continue to skyrocket, the dollar is tanking and people are losing their homes. Going on, as I did, about a fancy vacation was inconsiderate and insensitive. She makes a good point.
My apologies. I do have a tendency to see the glass half full rather than half empty, however always wearing my rose-colored glasses isn’t living in reality nor always appreciated by others. So I thought I would use this blog post to address some of what I am seeing out there which is not such great news for the spa industry and how we, as a company and I as a person, are trying to help.
As the economy has gone south, the spa industry has been surprisingly resilient – however not invincible. While we may not feel the impact as quickly as other industries, most spas are feeling an impact now. What helps the spa industry stay buoyant a bit longer than most is probably the combination of several things:
- A portion of our consumer market is affluent and they are generally the last to feel the financial pinch.
- We are related to the beauty industry with its “lipstick is recession-proof” phenomenon: When things get bad, women still buy lipstick (there was a segment on the Today Show this morning about people continuing to buy candy and small make-up items during hard economic times)
- Increased stress makes reducing it and staying healthy more important than ever
- Experiences trump material “things” – especially in a poor economic climates
When things get bad enough – and many people would say that those times are upon us – the spa industry is certainly affected. High net worth individuals begin to cut back, lipstick buyers go to the drug store instead of a spa and people experiment with more “at home spa” treatments. We are seeing some people cancel their summer vacation plans, while others are deciding to stay closer to home, and many regular spa-goers are stretching the time between spa visits.
Here at our SpaFinder office, we are continually discussing ways to help both consumers and spas during these more challenging times. One thing we have done is lowered the minimum amount needed to purchase a Spa and Salon Wish Gift Certificate. Rather than a $50 minimum, people can now buy a gift certificate for as little as $25. This helps people (and spas) in several ways. It makes it possible for people to gift a spa treat to someone for a smaller amount of money and the spa gets a new customer for a very minimal marketing fee.
We have also begun an in-house project we are calling “Operation Deal-Maker.” It is a targeted effort to help spas communicate their discounts and added-value specials. We know that everyone is looking for hot deals these days. In fact, that is one of the most popular parts of our website. We are doing everything we can to encourage spas to offer more enticing deals for customers. That means more savings, lower prices, more goodies.
Milana Knowles, our VP for day and medical spas, is constantly writing “tips” for spas in her regular newsletters to spas, while I address “tips” for consumers. Most recently these tips have been about how to save money. Milana’s focus at her day spa retreat this fall at Red Mountain Spa will be about managing employee compensation for greater benefit.
Our SpaBooker system has added revenue management tools to help both the spa and the customer take advantage of supply & demand variations.
We are also taking advantage of these times to make some progress on the sustainability and green initiatives front. We will be adding a section to our website where consumers will be able to see what kind of green policies a spa embraces in effort to give the consumer more information but also encourage more progress in that area.
Our new online magazine will be translated into five other languages giving spas visibility in countries where stronger currencies are making a trip to the U.S. very attractive.
And finally, the one thing I am doing personally is while trying to be more sensitive, I do want to stay positive. Perhaps it is part of what those of us who have been in the spa industry a long time have learned and embraced. It is in times like this that the principles of mindfulness and balancing body, mind, and spirit are very helpful. These practices allow us to take a more philosophical view of current conditions and keep the long term in mind. While I do not like today’s economic climate, I do realize that every challenge gives us an opportunity to learn new lessons and to reach out to others who may be experiencing even greater challenges.
My sister has certainly taught me a good lesson.
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