Kids & Teens at Spas…Supply or Demand?
by Susie Ellis
This article, “Spas Go All Out To Give Kids the Treatment” by Andrea Petersen and Miriam Foster was in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. It’s about the trend of more kids and teens going to spas for treatments. I have two comments. Both relate to this paragraph:
“Spas say they are responding to increasing demand among parents, especially from moms who themselves enjoy spa pampering and want to share the experience with their daughters. Spas also clearly see an opportunity with the kiddie market: Hooking kids on pricey pedicures and facials when they are young can lead to decades of repeat business. Tapping these new markets is particular crucial these days, as the spa industry is seeing revenue slip: Revenue in the U.S. spa industry fell to $9.4 billion in 2006, from $9.7 billion in 2005, according to the International SPA Association, an industry trade group.”
1. Often, it seems, the WSJ has a bit of a “spas are adding x-y-z to their program because they need to increase revenue” drum beat. So many of their articles have this premise. I remember one article a while back about spas adding ice cream to their menus (Canyon Ranch for example). The inference was that this was done to attract more business. I am sure that Canyon Ranch did NOT add mini-sundaes to their menu to bring in more business….rather, they are modeling how a small portion of a healthy dessert (their “hot fudge” is fruitbased and delicious) can be incorporated into a life enhancement program.
This article about kids and teens at spas has a similar bent. The authors theorize that this is a trend pushed by spas to bring in more money. I disagree and so would almost anyone else in our industry. The increase in this trend is clearly due to demand – from teens, kids and their parents. I know this because the number one consumer email question we have gotten here at SpaFinder this past year is “Where can I go where my 12-, 13-, 14-year-old, etc. can also get spa treatments?” It doesn’t really surprise me because this younger generation has grown up seeing their parents go to spas (unlike baby boomers whose parents were not spa-goers). Also it really is a good solution for busy moms (and increasingly dads too) to spend time with young kids.
2. My second comment has to do with the unfortunate perception that spa industry revenue is slipping. This is generally a result of last year’s ISPA report which compared some revenue numbers from 2005 to 2006. I have written about this before in my blog so won’t belabor the point again here, except to say that it is important for everyone to remember that 80 percent of the spas in that ISPA survey were day spas and that the slippage mentioned does not apply to resort spas, hotel spas, medical spas, or almost any other category of spas. And if ISPA’s definition of what counts as a day spa were to include all the many new business models and facilities which have opened and cater to people who are having massages and facials and other spa-services, the day spa sector would be showing revenue growth as well.
We are a young industry. We should expect that it will take more time for writers to understand the various nuances of the spa industry. And we need to work together to help them. I do however see progress!! Most reporters I talk with these days know the difference between destination spas and resort/hotel spas. That is a huge step forward!
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