Happy Anniversary!

Discover the secrets behind successful milestone events that attract new clients and boost sales.

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When it comes to fruitful spa celebrations, nothing compares to an anniversary, complete with discounts, special services and guest appreciation packages.

And while such perks make celebratory events a hit with clients, overseeing an anniversary can be a daunting task for the spa owner. When will you celebrate? Which anniversary and why? How will you publicize the event?

Lisa Starr, senior consultant of spa management resource Wynne Business, suggests sitting down first to define your goals. Spa owners, she says, should go beyond just making everyone feel good about reaching this new milestone.

“Be clear about the purpose and how you will measure the success of the effort,” Starr says. “Is the desire to use the event to gain more clients or to reward the clients you’ve already got?”

DAYSPA popped in at anniversary celebrations across the country where spa owners have successfully used their age to boost visibility, client retention and sales. Here, we examine four different celebrations—how they were organized, promoted and executed.

Plan Your Fête

In engineering its landmark 10-year anniversary last year, the staff of Ona Spa in Los Angeles took several key elements into consideration.

“It took us a while to decide whether to put all of our efforts into one big party in September or to do something more spread out,” says co-owner Eugenia Shakhnoff. “Because we’re a boutique spa and our capacity is limited, we decided to offer specials on new and existing treatments throughout the year, as opposed to just one fun event. Our main objective was to say ‘thank you’ to our clients and get them excited about the new offerings.”

Bruce Schoenberg, CEO of Oasis Day Spas, with three New York locations, is gearing up to commemorate the fourth anniversary of his Dobbs Ferry location, and advocates an uncomplicated milestone approach. For example, Schoenberg recently celebrated his Manhattan outlet’s 10-year event with a monthlong promotion featuring a different service or product each day, priced exactly how it was when the spa opened shop back in 2001.

“I come from a background in the event industry,” he says. “Every single detail is important, so remember the KISS principle”—keep it simple, stupid—”when planning, because even the smallest things can get messed up.”

Wondering how often you should celebrate? Not too often, according to Starr. “It’s nice to celebrate five, 10 or 15 years in business, but it’s not something you need to do every year,” she says. “Clients will start to expect it, and if discounts go along with it, they’ll wait for the event instead of doing business with you throughout the year.”

Publicize It

As with any type of event, clients need an appropriate amount of notice prior to your anniversary if you expect to create a measurable impact.

“The key is to give them a running start. Begin promoting two months ahead of time and keep teasing them with social media, press, email blasts, etc.,” Schoenberg says.

Consider inviting the media to a separate event—complete with mini services, gift bags or discount cards, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres—a couple of weeks before your public soiree to create additional buzz.

Dale Howard, director of Voda Spa in West Hollywood, California, decided to echo-promote the spa’s fourth anniversary last fall. “I thought it would be clever,” Howard says, “to have ‘4’ be the focal point of the whole campaign—from the marketing copy to the client questions to the number of social media outlets [Facebook, Twitter, Voda Blog and website] used.”

Accordingly, Howard promoted four special services priced at $104, took $44 off the price of any four-handed massage, and discounted day passes to $44 and smoothies to $4. He also invited guests to participate in a contest challenging them to answer a total of 44 trivia questions posed on all four online outlets throughout Voda’s anniversary month to drum up page visits and “likes.” Entrants had to visit the spa facility or an online site to register, and send their answers to the spa in piecemeal fashion. The prize? A treatment package worth $444, of course.

“Begin promoting two months ahead of time and keep teasing them with social media, press, email blasts, etc.”

“The biggest challenge was the coordination of all four internet presences,” Howard says. “Sales increased by about 2% to 5%, but the contest required additional staff training as well as client education on the contest parameters. It was a strong labor effort; next time I’ll simplify.”

Time To Party

Now that you’ve decided when to celebrate, it’s time to get creative! There are many ways you can thank clients, whether it’s through a monthlong discount program, a big blowout party, yearlong specials or, if you’re a destination spa, a vacation discount.

“I recommend both a promotion and an event,” says Alexis Ufland of spa development outfit Lexi Design and SPArty, a spa event operation. “The promotion should run for the entire month of the anniversary and be a sampler package combining mini versions of favorite services. This encourages guests to try the full version later.”

In addition, Ufland suggests holding a main event to thank your loyal clients. “Offer cocktails and light snacks,” she says. “Set up small spa stations for mini services. Ask product reps to provide samples so you can fill gift bags.”

Ufland also advises combining your event with a charity: “Encourage guests to bring five cans of food, or an old work outfit for Dress For Success”—a national nonprofit that provides professional attire and career development to low-income women—”in order to receive a free spa service at your spa along with food and drinks.”

Another strategy? Think: retail and service specials. “We’re offering 10% off any service on our menu during our anniversary month,” Schoenberg says. “This attracts new clients and incentivizes regulars to come in, giving us a chance to personally thank them.”

Keep in mind, there’s no tried-and-true formula. Just be sure to create an anniversary that resonates with your target clientele. In celebration of its 10th in 2011, destination oasis Mii amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona, created a special 10-night guest package.

“Besides gaining new clients, we also saw a large increase in the frequency of regular-client visits."

“We typically offer Journey packages in three-, four- and seven-night stays, but for our anniversary month [January], we extended the length-of-stay options and launched a new body treatment: Intentional Aromatherapy,” says general manager Chris Bird.

The journey packages consist of room and board, two daily spa treatments, wellness lectures, fitness classes, nightly gifts and workshops. Recipients of Intentional Aromatherapy choose from the 10 intentions of Mii amo—such as “I offer strength,” “I feel loved,” “My vision is clear,” “I will be prosperous”—and the therapist then incorporates a complementary custom-blended oil to help the guest focus on that intention throughout a dry brushing, massage, wrap and scalp massage.

In addition, Mii amo commemorated each of those intentions on the 10th of each month via special guest events (a Zumba class for happiness, a vision board creation workshop for prosperity, etc.), making the anniversary into a yearlong celebration—not unlike Ona Spa’s.

As Ona co-owner Shakhnoff says, “The biggest challenge was deciding which specials to offer and when. Ultimately, we provided specials on treatments that are typically popular during certain times of year—for example, in June we discounted the Ona Man Facial, so clients could gift it for Father’s Day.”

Reap the Rewards

With all of the specials being offered to clients, you may be wondering, what’s in it for the owner and staff? In addition to thanking your clients and showing them how much you care, anniversaries present opportunities to introduce new services, and encourage guests to invite friends who may turn into longtime clients.

“Our revenues always spike with an anniversary event,” Schoenberg says. “We get people to book future appointments, buy series and purchase retail.”

Mii amo’s Bird says that the spa saw tremendous buy-in with the 10-day spa getaways, great participation from the staff and excellent feedback from guests.

Ona reports similar success. “Besides gaining new clients, we also saw a large increase in the frequency of regular-client visits,” Shakhnoff says. “Those who typically come in just a few times a year, we saw almost monthly in 2011. We also garnered increased attention from the press and better product sales. Demand increased so much for one line featured in a special treatment that we now stock—and sell—much more from that manufacturer.”

Above all, preparing and producing your spa’s anniversary celebration should be a team effort. “It was very important to have the therapists and staff involved in planning and implementing the events,” Bird says. “Mii amo’s success over the past 10 years is because of their passion, dedication and talent, so it was crucial to have their input.”

Plus, isn’t it the dedicated team of professionals on your staff who got your spa to this milestone?

“At every anniversary event, the most memorable moment for me is when I look around and see the people who have been with me for so many years,” Schoenberg says. “It reminds me of where we started, where we’ve been and who was along for the ride.”

Liz Barrett is a writer and editor based in Oxford, Mississippi.

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