New and Emerging Spa Concepts
As the number of spa locations has increased dramatically over the past two decades, a flurry of classifications have become necessary to categorize the array of spa experiences being offered in the market. It also became necessary to distinguish spas from those businesses that simply offered one or two spa services as an adjunct to their main business.
Spa Culture and the Service Ethic
To characterize excellent service before the proliferation of spa, one might use words like professional, detached, smiling, gracious, and polite. Many of these words can still be used to characterize excellent service today, however, consumers might add: caring, personable, engaged, empathetic, and genuine to that list.
When spas became a part of hospitality, the service ethic changed as a result of shepherding guests through a variety of intensely personal experiences. It had the effect of closing the distance between the server and the served. Spa technicians were more than specialists, they were entering a gray area that was part servant, but also part therapist, part healer, part hand holder, part confidante. Spa therapists learn things about the people they work with, and being known opens people up to a different experience of service, and different expectations of being served.
Spa culture continually challenges the service ethic to be more aware, more empathetic, and more sensitive to the core components of leisure: reconnection and total well being.
Spa professionals are healers for people and society. They are also business people. While spas continue to embrace their origins and roots as places of healing and spiritual renewal, spas are maturing as a business, industry, and profession. Increasingly sophisticated and profit-focused organizations are entering the market, influencing the others in the market to think more about the financial bottom line and how to generate a sustainable profit. Manufacturers and product distributors have become more creative and innovative in their marketing and branding. Investors are more aware of spas and why they are worthy of investment.
From almost the beginning of time, spas have provided renewal, regeneration, and rejuvenation. They have been special places where people go to find themselves. They go to rest, reflect, and rediscover themselves so they can later re-enter the world with a refreshed body, mind, and spirit. Over the centuries, spas have evolved, experiencing sometimes rapid proliferation into mainstream culture. During the past two decades, spas have witnessed a rapid growth and expansion around the world.
The growth and changes in the spa world over the past decade have created a highly competitive environment for spas and resource partners (vendors).
Spas are deeply affected by the world around them and by the same market conditions that affect any other business. Three primary market issues shaping the world of spa are human resources and staffing, the uneven application of standards for the industry, and increased competition from both within and outside the industry.
Future spa guests will be more informed, knowledgeable, sophisticated, demanding, secure, aware, worldly, and better traveled than ever before. Vast amounts of information about spa alternatives will be at their fingertips. They will be able to quickly evaluate the array of spa offerings and judge which ones best suit them. Their purchases will be better attuned to their expectations, resulting in enhanced satisfaction.
While no one knows for certain which trends will continue to have a widespread effect on the industry, it is possible to identify some that seem to have a lifespan that transports them beyond a fad. They are the trends that are shaping today’s industry and are likely in one form or another to sculpt aspects of the future.
To say that technology is changing things in a pervasive manner is almost cliché. Even in the spa world—a place that offers its guests a temporary escape from the tether of technology in their lives—technology has created new ways of doing things, from administrative tasks to retail sales to treatments both medical and traditional.
At the heart of every spa are the treatments that are offered to guests. It is the treatment itself that guests come to the spa for.