Wellness is a natural bedfellow of the spa experience; after all, the buzzword’s definition as laid out by the National Wellness Institute places it as an active, holistic process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence—and that includes that other buzzword, self-care. So it’s little wonder that, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), wellness services and products pulled in $4.2 trillion in 2017 across all sectors, with the spa industry exhibiting the largest revenue growth (9.8 percent) out of the 10 markets analyzed.
That being said, when amenities like cryotherapy capsules, meditation rooms or an acupuncturist require a cash infusion, renovations or additional staff, some day spas may balk at incorporating wellness offerings into their business models. But small businesses can put aside their reservations, says Brad Drummer, managing partner at Nusta Spa in downtown Washington, D.C. “Adding a wellness perspective isn’t so much about bringing in a menu of services and products as it is about researching, understanding and then educating your staff and clientele about the health benefits of the services already on your menu. This costs nothing but a little time,” he reasons. And consumers are increasingly expecting you to invest that time. “They’re looking for wellness wherever they go, so it’s a no- brainer for any spa to embrace such offerings,” adds Pam Wolf, founder of The Parlor NYC in New York City. “They cement the experience, create loyalty and, in turn, impact revenue.”
To begin, you’ll need to assess what your business can handle. If your budget is tight, forego services that require high up-front costs—like installing an infrared sauna—in favor of ones that involve less initial investment, such as aromatherapy add-ons. According to Denise Dubois, owner of Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness with locations in Saratoga Springs and Albany, New York, you needn’t overthink it: “Wellness amenities can be as simple as providing a signature organic tea or health- enhancing beverages.”
If you’re able to spend now but want to keep labor costs low in the long run, larger items like zero-gravity loungers and experience showers are viable options—and you can charge a monthly membership fee for their usage. For example, clients at Complexions can pay $25 per month for full access to the lounge, steam room and sauna, plus the wellness beverage and snack bar. “The only staffing needed is guest services,” says Dubois. “After the initial cost for materials and installation, these amenities simply require basic upkeep.”
Such wellness memberships not only provide a steady cash flow that can offset higher fixed costs, they can also bring in business during slow periods and build an engaged client base open to additional offerings and promotions.
Space and Staff
For day spas with limited square footage and personnel, Drummer recommends working wellness into existing menu options. Case in point: Nusta Spa’s Synergy Treatments, which begin with acupuncture followed by a facial or massage—all in the same room. “The combination addresses clients’ needs from without and within,” he says. Compression therapy, IV infusions and sound baths can all be provided in spa spaces as well, but they do require the guidance of a licensed practitioner. That said, you may not need to sink money into additional hires. “We’ve noticed that many of our staff members have passions and training outside of their direct job descriptions, and we utilize those skills in client workshops,” says Dubois, recalling how her spa held a four-part meditation and singing bowl workshop after she discovered one of the massage therapists was already certified. “It was a wonderful benefit to our guests and also made that staff member feel supported,” she recounts.
In fact, special wellness-oriented workshops can be a real boon to business as they don’t involve daily operation costs or materials, and can be held during times when the spa experiences low foot traffic. Angela Green, esthetician and director of education for Se Brazil Wax, suggests keeping it simple with topics like daily stress reduction techniques, a makeup bag cleanup class, or internal detox tips for healthy skin. Think beyond the confines of your spa, as well. “Arrange seasonal, local group activities: a farmer’s market stroll or beach walk at sunset,” she posits. “Offering just one of these extras leaves a lasting impression on clients. It extends the quality of their last service and reminds them of their unique experiences with you.”
Another way to keep costs down is to partner with local wellness providers like fitness clubs, spiritual centers or meditation studios. Complexions works with a nearby yoga studio to host a one-hour class that includes full use of the spa’s wellness amenities that don’t require staff. “They provide the instructor and we provide the space,” says Dubois. “We both promote the event equally.” If space is an issue, Green suggests approaching a meditation or yoga expert to do a prerecorded breathing exercise or guided meditation that clients can listen to before, during or after their services.
But remember: It’s important to seek wellness businesses that align with your spa. “Visit their facilities and experience their services for yourself,” recommends Green, adding that they should be willing to return the favor by patronizing your spa, referring customers and promoting the partnership.
Be sure to include healthy ingredient call-outs on your menu and have staff relay the wellness benefits of treatments before they perform them. After all, the more informed the client, the more apt they are to consistently buy in. “I’m big on education, so The Parlor NYC is creating events and experiences where our guests can discover new technology, procedures and approaches to keep them looking and feeling their best,” says Wolf.
Meanwhile, Dubois posts short videos about how to maximize offerings’ wellness benefits (such as proper sauna therapy) on the spa’s website and social media, and Green incorporates wellness cues into every touch point possible. “You can send clients a link to a guided meditation playlist with your appointment reminders,” she says, the idea being that they can listen to it between visits. Wellness tips can also be included in follow- up emails to encourage spa-goers to practice daily self-care.
When you invest in your clients’ well-being, both in the spa and beyond, they will take notice. “In our 30-plus years of experience, we’ve found that guests always remember the overall experience, not just services,” says Dubois. “Wellness amenities make your spa more memorable and impart the perception of added value, which in turn keeps clients coming back and spending more.”
–by Karie L. Frost
This story first appeared in the February 2020 issue of DAYSPA Magazine. To receive the magazine, subscribe here.