"We put our website up in 1997 and it’s been a slow evolution,” TallGrass owner Gail Ridings says of her facility’s early adoption of the web. “Foremost, our site has always focused on clearly highlighting our brand: You’ll always see, front and center, photos of where we are, what we look like and how we operate.”
Ridings knows that her spa’s website is often “the first portal of how we communicate with guests, before they set foot in the door.” As a result, she and her team of designers have produced a one-stop, virtual information booth. Most notable are the rotating photo galleries; instantly printable gift cards; online booking; newsletters and blogs; informative videos (from how to spa to smoky-eye makeup tips); and service menus that not only describe treatments, but also provide helpful information about ways to receive discounts.
“Taking away the guesswork and fear is very important to us,” Ridings says. “That’s how you build client trust and relationships.” In turn, she trusts her web team to help her make sense of the nuts and bolts of successful website operations. “Besides just looking at your competitors’ sites, you have to be aware of search-engine optimization, click-through rates, making sure your phone number is crawlable and drawing Facebook fans to your website.”
Another must? Constant updating. “You can’t just say, ‘OK, we’re done with our website, we’ll look at it again next year.’” TallGrass staff add new info—even personal photos—as often as possible. “We think that things like the pictures of our staff picnic connect us to our guests,” Ridings says. “We want to make sure people know who we are.” —Lisa Sweetingham