The hotel spa is an element of the hospitality industry that is undergoing significant transformation and renaissance at the moment. Luxury hotels regularly spend jaw-dropping sums of money to construct state of the art spa solutions with all manner of facilities, such as mud baths and salt-infused meditation rooms. With the tourism industry beginning to emerge from the haze of the global financial crisis, and preconceptions towards this area of personal well-being fading, demand for hotel spas has continued to grow. So what benefits can an effective spa bring to a hotel?
A survey commissioned by Hilton Hotels & Resorts in 2012 indicated nearly 50% of 6,000 guests considered the existence of a spa important to the selection of a hotel. Relaxation and stress reduction services, like massages, sauna and steam rooms, are the primary driver of global spa usage. With customer satisfaction becoming increasingly crucial, enticing guests into enjoying additional services like the spa can drive positive reviews, enhancing online reputation. Male business travellers are undermining gender stereotypes and increasingly becoming an important part of the spa guest mix. Industry-wide statistics are difficult to come by, but 13% of men questioned by AMTA in July 2011 had received massage treatment in the preceding 12 months, a substantial percentage. By creating and offering shorter versions of treatments, spas have been able to capture this elusive clientele. This conversion of guests, who may not have previously indulged in well-being services of this kind, has developed loyalty and improved the experience of first-time users.
The most effective spa installations are tailored towards the regional market - for example, European hotels tends to offer hydrotherapy.
Raise the value of the asset
What is abundantly clear about hotel spas is that they immediately raise the financial and marketing value of the asset. For many years, hotel spas were seen as something of a necessity for luxury hotels; there were a symbol of status withinin the hospitality industry. This remains true. However, additionally, with the marketing potential of a spa being exploited more effectively these days, it is also possible to secure an edge over industry competition. In such a competitive marketplace, attracting these extra clients can prove crucial.
Generate a valuable additional revenue stream
Whereas hotels used to settle on running their spa as an amenity to attract guests in years gone by, the tighter financial conditions of recent times have encouraged a more strategic perspective. With greater attention to detail, successful spa managers have been able to produce a profitable additional revenue stream. In fact, in a study conducted by PKF Hospitality Research, it was found that the surveyed hotels raised $16.25 per occupied guest room in hotel spa revenue. They have achieved this through measured marketing, payroll control and promotional offers. For example, encouraging staff to advertise treatments to guests when possible, and incorporating a mobile hospitality solution to permit upselling on guests' mobile devices, can boost revenues. Furthermore, if the facilities are opened up to residents of the local area, this can provide another source of custom, not to mention maintaining healthy regional relations and integrating into the community. In fact, in the aforementioned 2012 survey by Hilton Hotels & Resorts, 40% of respondents said they would be more likely to visit a hotel spa near their home if it offered a local membership programme.
"Spa is no longer a niche industry, but instead is a major revenue producer for the hotel industry. Food and beverage, as well as accommodations revenue, can be substantially complemented by spa and wellness revenue streams." Bryan McGoldrick, Director, Angliss National, William Angliss Institute
In conclusion, the renewed and increasing investment by hotels into spa facilities is justifiable as a result of the diverse benefits they offer. Tyra Lowman, Senior Director of Global Spa with Hilton Hotels & Resorts, once claimed that ‘there was a whole theory that spas didn't make money for hotels'. Having detached themselves from this negative mindset, hotel spas have advanced to become a dynamic asset of the establishment in which they are situated.
About the Author
Mathieu Pollet is the CEO and co-founder of LoungeUp (www.loungeup.com), the mobile hospitality CRM solution. Mathieu does not strictly have a hospitality background himself (although his family does), but having travelled a lot for personal and professional purposes, he realised that many of the hotels he visited could significantly improve their experience by integrating technology with customer services. Combining their expertise in technology and their passion for hospitality, Mathieu and the second co-founder, Lionel Tressens, established LoungeUp for the benefit of hoteliers and guests alike.