The Client of the Future part 3

To celebrate our 15th anniversary, DAYSPA embarked on a soothsaying mission, asking spa industry experts to augur the trends, treatments and services that the client of the future will demand. In Part 3, our experts offer insights on...

the best marketing strategies to get the client of tomorrow into your spa—today!

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According to our experts, female Baby Boomers will continue to dominate spa-going traffic, but more men, teens, the elderly and people of all socioeconomic backgrounds will also be drawn to spa. Last month, we learned that while anti-aging treatments and evidence-based results are imperative, the industry also has to do a better job of communicating spa’s effectiveness as part of an overall wellness regimen. And spa owners must continue to educate themselves on the latest techniques and tools in order to stay one step ahead of their savvy guests. Given this mission, how can spa owners better market their enhanced services to the client of the future?

FELICIA BROWN, business and marketing coach, and owner of marketing resource Spalutions!: Start by understanding who your target clients are and what they truly need or want. You have to understand the problems they face and the solutions they seek from your spa.

CHRISTINE HEATHMAN, founder and CEO of GlyMed Plus: Every spa owner must do demographics. Right down the street from where I live we have a spa that does Botox, fillers and all of the upscale skin treatments—in a little tiny town in Spanish Fork, Utah! They’ve done their homework. A county over, there’s another spa offering acupressure, acupuncture, aromatherapy—and people are demanding it.

ANGELA KALISH, director of sales at Yon-Ka USA: It’s important for the neighborhood spa to reach out to the community. You can do this by sponsoring community fundraisers, advertising in local magazines and newspapers, and joining local networking groups, professional women’s associations or philanthropic groups that support women’s needs as a way to build your brand’s identity and integrity. Work with local hotels that don’t offer spa services, and your local wedding planner or event coordinator to host an open house for brides.

Heathman: And you have to have a marketing and PR strategy in place. If you have money to hire someone who can even just do local PR, do it. Get out to the local TV station, the radio station. My best advice: When you hire a professional, don’t be pennywise and pound-foolish. Always have short-term and long-term marketing and PR goals. Always.

CHRISTIAN GARCES, founder of Sothys USA: Understanding the typical consumer profiles might also provide some insight into spa marketing concepts. For instance, the trend-seeker spa-goers need emotional and celeb-style satisfaction; visual environmentalists want to be surrounded by beauty to enhance their feelings of inner wellness and purpose; lifestyle-to-cost–minded clients are savvy consumers who expect a valued treat every now and then; other clients want that immediate ‘wow’ with instant beauty results; and then there are enthusiastic pleasure seekers who are simply looking for a trendy, fun experience.

"If you have money to hire someone who can even just do local PR, do it."

MARY BETH PETERSON, president of Jurlique: Courting the client of the future involves really knowing who she is: She’s busy; she doesn’t have as much expendable income; she shops and gathers opinions online. If you aren’t representing your spa and its services online, you’ll have a difficult time gaining the client of the future.

BRIAN BRAZEAU, COO North America at BABOR Cosmetics: Without a doubt, spa owners should plug into social media as it’s become a dominant and influential avenue that impacts buying behavior.

Brown: Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter have changed the way we alert people about open appointment times and monthly specials. And online gift certificates and scheduling have changed the way we make sales and appointments.

JANE WURWAND, founder and owner of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute: Online booking has to be in place. If I’m a client working until 10 p.m. at night, I can’t get your spa on the phone. I have to book online. We should be on Facebook, building fans. And we need to be able to communicate with that potential client, whether it’s on Twitter or whatever the new Twitter will be. It’s one of the best ways to communicate with your clients, to be able to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got an appointment opening at 4:30 p.m.’ It will fill.

Heathman: The Internet is also going to play a bigger interactive role for spas. I can see a time when someone goes on the Web, logs onto a face-analysis site, punches in some problems they’re having and up come recommendations from this particular spa, with this particular treatment and these particular products. It will create a fine-tuned customization.

LENETTE CASPER, president and CEO of Phytomer: Spa owners should be prepared to find ways to welcome Gen X and the Millennials into the spa. These two groups like to do research online to see what they’re going to experience beforehand. If you want to reach them, you’d better get on the social media bandwagon so they can find you. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon the old-fashioned way of making appointments and doing business, but if you want to prepare for future clients, technology must be a part of it—or at least an option.

"Online booking has to be in place. If I’m a client working until 10 p.m. at night, I can’t get your spa on the phone. I have to book online."

Heathman: The younger generation is also more exposed to and influenced by celebrity Tweets. They influence their decision-making about clothing purchases and beauty products. You can see evidence of this in the increasing numbers of individuals in their twenties who are getting cosmetic surgery. Where do they get that idea? A lot of young celebrities have had Botox and fillers and nips and tucks.

Wurwand: The 18-24 year-olds are buying prestige products and they want results. But if your day spa imagery trends toward the well-to-do lady of leisure, it’s not a business that will appeal to the younger set. Young women are going to the Sephoras or the Ultas, and seeking things that appeal to their age group. They might think of going to a nail spa because it’s fun and buzzy and interactive, but they don’t think of a day spa—and that makes me crazy! I love our industry but I think sometimes we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. We’ve got to be speaking to people when they’re 16, 17 and helping to pull them in at 18 and up. Because, if we don’t, ultimately, our clients will age out.

Peterson: Check your spa’s results on Google. What are people saying about your business? Review the comments, address any issues and maximize the positives. Be sure your website is current and reflects who you want to be. Reach out to bloggers, and don’t be afraid when you see a less-than-friendly review: Use it to propel improvement.

Wurwand: Clients looking for value don’t spend without peer review. A lot of spas don’t realize how important that is. I have people who say they’re not on Yelp and I say, ‘You may not think you are!’

Brown: Marketing is a process that never ends. But spas should focus first and foremost on retaining and keeping in touch with existing and past clients instead of spending boatloads of money trying to bring in new clients.

JOHN GRAY, founder of Glen Ivy Hot Springs and principal at Voelker Gray Design: To court the client of the future you need to retain today’s clients! Be sure to build loyalty and reward client referrals.

"Reach out to bloggers, and don’t be afraid when you see a less-than-friendly review: Use it to propel improvement."

Peterson: You should create a loyalty program that keeps clients coming back to the spa for skincare products and professional services: why let a prestige retailer have the retail sale? The spa’s best calling card is a satisfied client. Start there first.

Kalish: Client retention is extremely difficult in today’s competitive market, and turning a coupon into a loyal client is an art. At a time when everyone is looking for a deal, it’s important to perfect your customer service skills and think outside the box. Today’s professional knows how important this is, and is willing to be flexible—even if that means customizing the length and cost of treatments.

Gray: Customer service, customer service, customer service, and did I mention customer service? Nothing matters more!

Peterson: I also think spa retail continues to be a major opportunity for the client to multitask (one-stop shopping) and for the spa owner to run a more profitable business. Buy what a client is looking for and learn how to make your retail area interesting and easy to shop.

RIANNA RIEGO, principal at consulting resource Global SpaVantage: Day spa owners should also develop their menus so that clients return for maintenance, whether it be for facials or massages. They need to make it easier for them to incorporate spa into their spending budget. I liken it to the concept of women who have their hair colored or their gel nails on a regular basis—no matter how hard times are, they will come back for those services. They might not come as often, but they’ll still be spending money on it.

Garces: If you are bored, so is the spa guest, so try something new: Make changes every season and feature specific treatments and retail items to satisfy a variety of clients. The top reasons why loyal customers leave a spa is because of bad customer service, not being engaged, or just wanting to try something new or find a better price value. Exceed clients’ expectations with a personal touch. The more engaged you are with guests, the better.

Wurwand: We also have to look at having more how-to days for consumers. Someone who shops, buys and gets recommendations? They’re listening to peer reviews and people like them who are saying, ‘This is a really cool thing to do.’ If we are switched on to that and to the power of social media, it also makes a potential client of the future think, ‘Wow, this person understands who I am.’ To keep relying on a paper menu or a static website with miracle promises will not attract the client of the future.

"Why let a prestige retailer have the retail sale?"

TONY CUCCIO, founder and CEO of Cuccio Naturalé: And why shouldn’t every spa have different menus for different age groups? A ‘Silver Menu’ for 80 to 100 years old would make the 60+ clients feel younger! Or you could do the bronze, silver, gold and platinum menus. Or under 20, 20 to 40 and then, real general, 40 and up. You can order it however you want, but this would be pinpoint marketing.

Wurwand: Why not host a teen event or, better yet, form a teen council that could come in and be a focus group for what teens would like to see in your spa? They feel more comfortable having services as a group, because a private room can be quite intimidating, which is also why teens like having mani/pedis—they can all go together.

Gray: Definitely add a social component to your spa, and make it easy for guests to spa with friends.

Cuccio: The other part is gift certificates: People keep them filed under the cash register as if they’re gold. My idea would be to make a clear box for them and put them in front of the spa—where anybody can take them. Each gift certificate has a number, and your future client only needs to call up and validate the number with a credit card. I would make one up for every holiday with a different promotional ad. Let’s say, for Valentine’s, it would be: Treat Your Sweetheart to a Treatment. So now, say, a client’s out shopping, and instead of saying, ‘Am I going to buy chocolate or flowers this year?’ it’s ‘Oh, look at that! I’ll get her a pedicure.’ Your gift certificates don’t talk to clients if they’re under the counter.

Casper: People are very busy these days and there are a lot of options when it comes to how clients want to spend their time and money. Going to the spa needs to be easy, results-oriented and enjoyable.

Wurwand: We also have to make it easy for clients to pay and to exit so they’re not waiting. Get them into and out of the process, not rushed, but as quickly as possible. Look at the Apple Store: You can be on line outside the store and they’re coming around with a handheld device, getting you what you need, and letting you pay and exit as efficiently as possible. You feel as if they’re catering to a market of one: you. So, cater to a market of one. Let every client feel that he or she is really special. That adds value to the day spa experience, and it cannot be replicated at home.