In the spa world, “discounting” can be a dirty word, and certainly a tactic that savvy owners use sparingly. But during the economic recession, promotional price cuts and daily-deal sites became somewhat of a necessary evil to keep many spas afloat. Within the daily-deal fray, marketing platform Spa Week has rapidly risen in the ranks as a not-so-secret weapon for spa owners looking to drive new clients into their establishments.
Founder Cheryl Reid says the Spa Week concept derived from the need for an effective and profitable program that would bring new clients into spas that had sparse resources for advertising and marketing. “I thought, ‘If we could figure out some way to drive in consumers in one fell swoop, it would change the industry for the better.’”
Inspired by the popular Restaurant Week event, which offers price-fixed menu offerings in eateries across the country, Reid soon devised a similar weeklong promotion that offered full-service spa treatments at participating spas for the discounted price of $50. Since its initial launch in the fall of 2004, the bi-annual event has attracted millions of new consumers to the spa, and become somewhat of a household term. As Spa Week’s popularity grows, so has its roster of spa affiliates. “We get hundreds of spas participating in each event,” says Breanna Crowley, director of operations, Spa Week Media.
From Swedish massages and mani-pedi combos to microdermabrasion and peels, price-conscious clients can indulge in luxuries they typically exclude from their budget, throughout one week during the spring and fall of each year. “Spa Week has allowed us to tear down the wall that separates the spa lifestyle from the everyday consumer,” says Reid.
To help businesses get the most out of their experience, Spa Week staff navigates spa owners through the event with step-by-step assistance. They provide social media and email marketing resources, television and print advertising opportunities, in-store signage and treatment tips. “We are not just throwing a deal out there,” explains Reid. “We are putting blood, sweat and tears into a marketing program that will work for each business.” Costs to participate in Spa Week vary with the size of the business.
Over the years, veteran Spa Week participants have figured out a thing or two about how to maximize the event. DAYSPA chatted with some of the event’s “regulars” for some insight on how they make it a revenue-generator. Here’s their six-step plan for Spa Week success. —By Angela Melero
Discounting a pricey treatment to the low price of $50 can be a painful maneuver, and for some spa owners, the tempting solution is to cut down on length or service “extras.” But, Angela Kaupe, owner of Angela Michael Skincare and Spa in Atlanta, and Spa Week veteran, says downgrading a treatment experience defeats the purpose of Spa Week and could be the kiss of death for a day spa’s reputation.
“It’s bad customer service,” Kaupe explains. “If I were a customer coming in for a 60-minute treatment that was cut to 45, I would be extremely disappointed and would not come back. By offering the full service, you’re showing clients you care about their experience, and that you truly want their business.”
This mentality should also be in play when it comes to selecting the two or three options to feature during Spa Week. Spa owners should take careful consideration and offer exciting services that are a real bargain to entice clients, says Crowley. “If you’re offering a $50 European Facial that is normally $75, that really isn’t a substantial discount,” she explains. “You need to be strategic about what treatments or services will truly capture client attention.”
Spas would also be wise to play upon the novelty and luxury factors of their featured services. Capitalizing on a treatment’s celebrity following, for example, could help boost interest in your Spa Week services. During Fall 2012 Spa Week last October, spa-goers had the opportunity to indulge in “star-studded” treatments such as the Swedish Massage (30-90 min./$65-$135) from Tikkun Holistic Spa in Santa Monica, California—a favorite of actress and singer Vanessa Williams—and the Essential Manicure and Pedicure combo (75 min./$95) from ELLE Spa in Miami, famously enjoyed by actress Joy Bryant. With the help of the Spa Week Media team, these spas hyped-up these exclusive treatments in their marketing materials and campaigns.
Coupling Spa Week with a service launch can be a great way to build buzz, too. For instance, last October, Kristen Trimmer, owner of Absolutely Chic Day Spa in Peoria, Arizona, used Spa Week as a promotional vehicle for the spa’s new Anti-Cellulite Massage and Body Wrap. “This helped us market it to our existing clients and those we haven’t seen in a while,” says Trimmer. “We were able to reach out and give them something new and exciting to come in for.”
For many spas, Spa Week marks one of the busiest times of the year, akin to retail activity during “Black Friday” and the holiday shopping season. Many participating spas report record weeks and 20% to 30% increases in business. Motivating and preparing your staff is vital to ensuring the best client experiences possible.
Kaupe beefs up staffing at her Atlanta spa to make way for the wave of clients that come in during Spa Week. “I’ll bring in extra massage therapists, since that is one of our big Spa Week services,” she explains. She also stresses the importance of keeping employee morale high throughout the hectic event. “Before Spa Week, I make sure all of my employees get facials and massages,” Kaupe says. “And after the event, we do a girls’ night out. We all grab dinner and enjoy a little pampering.”
Enforcing selling initiatives is especially important during Spa Week, as client retention and rebooking are key objectives. “We keep track of how many clients our employees rebook each day,” Trimmer says. “If their rate is above 30% at the end of each month, my service providers receive a bonus. It’s pretty safe to say there’s a lot of rebooking going on during Spa Week.”
In becoming a Spa Week affiliate, spa owners gain complete access to the company’s marketing tools and connections. The Spa Week team offers in-store signage as well as some massive exposure via television and print advertising segments. “This exposes your spa’s brand to millions of people,” says Crowley.
CloudMover Day Spa in Huntington Beach, California, is one of the many spa affiliates that have benefited from Spa Week’s marketing efforts. “Spa Week’s live television opportunity on KTLA in the fall of 2010 resulted in massive exposure,” says president Anne Mason-Arnold. “We couldn’t answer the phones fast enough, and the buzz continues to this day.”
Spa Week’s promotion and online listing of participating spas goes live some six weeks before each event. Mason-Arnold makes sure her own in-house promotion gets a head start as well, as results can be immediate. “Spa Week provides us with a ‘Get Ready for Spa Week Kit’ that includes different advertisements to be posted to our website or printed out and placed in the spa,” she explains. “So as soon as they start to promote Spa Week, so do we—and the bookings begin immediately.”
Kaupe’s Spa Week clients come from all over, so her marketing strategy follows suit. In addition to an aggressive media campaign, encompassing Twitter, Facebook and email blasts, guerilla marketing and local networking have also proven effective. “We print out hundreds of fliers and distribute them to nearby communities, as well as others up to three hours away,” Kaupe says. “We also work with local chambers of commerce to help spread the word about the event, and end up getting visits from people both near and far.”
Although the low price point will be the primary incentive driving consumers to your spa, their overall experience is the deciding factor in whether or not they will return. Little details, such as a gift with purchase or excellent customer service, could make a substantial impact in retaining your Spa Week consumer. “We want to win Spa Week clients over,” says Kaupe. “So, when they come in we’ll serve hot tea, cookies and snacks. After the treatment, we send them home with some sort of gift, such as a scented soap.”
Spa Week founder Reid recommends having each client fill out a profile that includes their birth date, anniversary, the number of children they have, etc., as a means to engage in follow-up correspondence. “Send them a birthday card with a 20%-off coupon for the treatment of their choice,” suggests Reid. “If you do your part, there’s no reason they shouldn’t come back.”
Due to the popularity of Spa Week, spa owners often find that their technicians’ schedules fill up long before the event commences. To ensure new—and existing—clients receive treatment, spa owners must be flexible in their Spa Week scheduling. Spa Week’s Crowley recommends extending the seven-day time frame to accommodate your spa’s client flow. “Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to just limit the event to one week,” Crowley explains. “You run the risk of overworking and stressing out your staff.”
Nina Kay, owner of Nina’s Day Spa and Laser Center in New York City, says a flexible schedule allows her to keep staffing tight. “Customers can book appointments for the week before and after the event, and we will still honor the price,” Kay says. Some spas extend the event for the entire month.
At CloudMover Day Spa, employees capitalize on Spa Week momentum by offering a follow-up treatment at the same $50 price tag. “This allows clients to maintain results and ideally they’ll bring a friend along for a future service,” says Mason-Arnold.
Over the years, Spa Week’s marketing tools have expanded beyond the biannual event to include year-round programs such as the Spa & Wellness Gift Card (now available in more than 20,000 retail locations nationwide), Spa Deals and a custom mobile phone app. “We participate in the Gift Card and Spa Deals throughout the year,” says Kay. “We get a lot of new clients who call in saying they heard of us through the Spa Week site.”
In August, Spa Week launched its All-Inclusive Membership Marketing Program. Through this service, spas can participate in six exclusive programs including Spa Week, monthly spa deals, premiere listings, the Spa & Wellness gift card, Online Booking, and the mobile app, for one monthly price. “This program came from direct feedback from our spa affiliates who were saying, ‘We want more, please give us more,’” says Reid. “It’s basically a one-stop shop for many spa marketing needs.”
For more information, visit spaweek.com.
Angela Melero is DAYSPA’s assistant editor.