Health and fitness clubs are the new solution for personal wellness. Although this creates more responsibility for clubs, it also gives them a great opportunity to improve their business. Implementing spa services in a club can easily improve retention, amp up marketing and boost a club’s bottom-line.
Spas for Marketing and Retention
Combining two major categories may grab a club owner or GM’s attention – or it should. Spas, as a profit center, could help clubs improve both marketing and retention. Western Athletic Clubs (WAC), based out of San Francisco, have used their Sanctuary Spas for both those categories. “As the spa market started to boom, our spas started becoming a pretty big profit center for our clubs,” said Gina Raiola, the regional spa director for Western Athletic Clubs. “Our clubs are very high end, but our spas are very small compared to other facilities.”
WAC offers all the high-end services of a regular spa, from massages to facials, pedicures, manicures and a relaxation room. “When you are talking about any athletic club, we are trying to incorporate a healthy lifestyle and with the spa service we are supporting that image,” Raiola said. The Sanctuary Spa is open to the public and it subsequently allows WAC to use it to influence marketing campaigns. Members of the club get a discounted rate on spa services and when non-members attend Sanctuary Spa they are escorted through the club – highlighting the club as a whole.
Spas assist clubs in reducing attrition rates by giving members more value in their experience. “When we opened the spas, we decided that we would offer full spa and salon services and that decision has served us well,” said Janice Nichols, the vice president of spa operations for Sport and Health, based in Washington D.C. “Our menu offerings are updated and edited yearly based on revenue generated and new treatments introduced in the industry. Often times our decisions are influenced by service provider input and enthusiasm for new products and services.”
“When our clubs were first opened and we were building these larger club resorts, the spa element was brought in as a true service to our members,” Raiola said. “It was our goal to have everything under one roof. Over time as the spa industry has grown, our spas have grown immensely.” The spa itself has been a marketing tool for the club. Just existing in the towns has pushed the word of mouth from members and inadvertently has been a great marketing tool for the WAC. “The most integral part of the story is spa is the natural progression of clubs,” Raiola continued. “It’s the main purpose of the club to help members live a healthy lifestyle; spa is a continuation of that. It really does go hand in hand with what the club business offers.”
The Almighty Dollar
Sport and Health has marketed their Serenity Spa in a similar fashion as Western Athletic Club. They’ve opened the spa to the public and it has continually brought in a profit of about 15 to 20 percent. “Per location we serve up to 90 clients per day and employ up to 35 employees, both full and part-time,” said Nichols. “In the past, the vast majority of our clients received multiple services.”
When saunas are implemented into the club’s spa area, they have the ability to increase income with each sauna session. “By charging per sauna session, the health club will see an increase in revenue and members will be absolutely thrilled with results,” explained Lauren Krull, the fitness account manager for Sunlighten, an expert sauna company. Unlike group saunas that are found in locker rooms, in-club spas have the ability to install personal saunas that can be marketed as relaxing spa treatments. Saunas give members that cutting edge experience that helps them with their workouts. They make clubs look more up to date and create a relaxing space for members.
Tanning stations within spas can have a similar effect to saunas. Clubs have the ability to charge members per tanning session, just as they would at a tanning salon. Members don’t have to leave the club to get a tan if a club implements a tanning booth or bed. They can come in, get their work out, get a massage and grab some color before ever going home. In today’s fast-paced society, members don’t want to drive to two or three different locations for services. Clubs that have the ability to provide multiple services, such as spas and tanning, will receive members and the boost to their bottom line.
Some clubs have implemented the historical use of steam baths within their clubs. “Steam baths and sauna bathing can be traced back to earlier civilizations that placed a great emphasis on the therapeutic healing powers of heat therapy,” said John Duggan, the regional sales manager for Steamist, a national steam-bath company. “The long tradition of addressing the health and wellness concerns will be a comfort to members. By offering a more complete package, clubs will differentiate themselves from the clubs and spas that offer less. Also, I believe having steam baths and saunas enhance the image of the club and its staff as a premier ‘one stop’ facility.”
Tanning for Additional Profits
Linda Bommarito, the president of Hex Tanning, said “Hex tanning’s SOL glass technology is the only glass used in the tanning industry that allows UV light in the nanometer range of 280 nm to 300 nm. The spectrum of UV light produces vitamin D for your members.”
Steam baths can boost the clubs bottom line just like any other spa service within a club. Charging for services can always give clubs that lift that helps them make changes and market themselves at a greater level to potential members. “You have to be able to articulate the spa and the gym and keep illustrating how these two really do go hand in hand to improve overall health and the mind/body experience,” said Madalyn Johnson, the spa director for Total Woman Gym & Day Spa, located in Southern California. “We try to capture the ‘ahhhhh’ feeling.”
Basically, gym members have invested themselves in exceptional health. They want to look good, feel good and be on top of the world. Spa is the next step to taking them to that level. Remember this, if they don’t go to the spa at their club, they are probably going to find a spa elsewhere and not spend money on the club they are already invested in – they want to support their club.
How It’s Done
The great thing about implementing a spa in a club is it could make a lot of money. Although, the development of a spa requires additional planning and development for positive execution, the end result can easily change the overall image and profit margins of a club. There are many different types of spas to develop based on services and amenities. The solution is to find what fits the club’s demographic and implement what’s needed. Some clubs use the same locker rooms for their gym as they do for their spa. Some spas have hair salons incorporated, some focus only on massages – a lot of clubs have saunas.
“We not only have the whirlpool, steam room, sauna and relaxation area, but we are able to offer the entire mind, body concept, including full treatment day spa with body treatments, massage, facials and waxing with a spa locker room that has a full complement of products from our spa,” Johnson said. “We offer our spa clients a luxury robe, slippers and towel during their visit. This way, they can have a workout, then enjoy a service and go back and forth between the spa or the whirlpool area, or to the gym or back to the spa.”
The Serenity Spa at Sport and Health has three separate spas that range from 3,500 square feet to 6,000 square feet. “All facilities are separate from the club with the exception of one, which shares only the club locker room,” Nichols said. “Treatment rooms have adjustable beds, heated blankets and volume adjustment for spa music. We use European products to perform the services and have standard protocols for each treatment. Upon checkout, the clients are offered retail products for hair, body, skincare, nails, makeup and aromatherapy.”
WAC has taken its member’s opinions into account to achieve greater results for their spas. They keep suggestion boxes all around the club, including in the spas, and they try and keep member suggestions in the forefront when implementing new ideas. “I have an open door policy where members can come in and share their feelings about spa services,” Raiola said. “It usually comes to us when a member builds a relationship with their therapist.”
Raiola said that the addition of a spa to Western Athletic Clubs has been a positive experience. The goal for Western has been to keep convenience as a top priority for its members. By taking that aspect into consideration for growing their club, members appreciate the club more and are more likely to refer friends and other non-members. Spas have the ability to propel a club to new heights. The implementation of spas can prove to members that they are much more to their club than money in the bank. Although, spas can bring additional revenue to a club, the services and amenities provided can completely overhaul the member experience and increase enrollment. Focus on bringing in spa services into the club for the total member experience. -CS