A Day at the Spa
Positioning your spa to maximize profits.
You have just finished a grueling workout — running for miles, lifting heavy weights or taking a group exercise class. You are tired, sweaty and sore. Nothing sounds more appealing than a relaxing deep tissue massage, but the thought of having to trek across town to the local spa is discouraging. Wouldn’t it be ideal if you could workout and recover all in the same place?
With this thought in mind, many gyms have incorporated salons and spas into their facilities to enhance their member experience, and it seems to be paying off. “Having a spa in a health club complements the member’s workout,” said Elaine Perhach, the regional director at Aura Spa, which has locations in four VIDA Fitness gyms in the Washington D.C. area. “We are about results in the spa, just as we are about results on the gym floor. Our therapists have many tools under their belts to treat athletes at the gym recovering from injuries, preparing or recovering from marathon races, to post surgery treatment for hip and knee replacements.”
Spas not only add value and attractive services for current members, but they also may attract new clients to the gym. According to Perhach, some non-members will come to the Aura Spa for a massage, see it is affiliated with VIDA Fitness, and end up joining.
“A lot of people who never even thought about joining a gym come into the club, they see how great it is, how friendly the staff is, they know that they have already gotten great services at the spa and that being a member gets you discounts at the spa,” explained Perhach. “So we can turn spa clients into a gym member and a continued spa client as well.”
Of course, operating a spa is a competitive business, just like running a gym. You must use a variety of tools to entice members to use the club spa, rather than seek services elsewhere. Discounts are one of the easiest ways to attract clients.
The Paul Labrecque Spa, located at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers in New York City, offers members a preferential rate of a 10 percent reduction on all services. “Particularly for Chelsea Piers, we have created specific levels of pricing with some services,” said Brian Cantor, the founder of The Paul Labrecque Spa. “For example, we offer men’s haircuts for $45, where our regular men’s haircuts are $90. We also offer a manicure and pedicure combination there for $72 for members, versus $100 at our uptown locations. We have really created some purposeful pricing to keep the members of Chelsea Piers located there.”
The Aura Spa also offers discounted services to VIDA Fitness clients. New members have the option to waive their enrollment fee for a value-added service. However, according to Perhach, discounts only get you so far.
“We definitely don’t want to focus on discount, discount, discount, because we want to build the value of our spa and our therapists. We offer packages of massage therapy, which discount services very little, but allow someone to come in more frequently.”
Besides discounts and packages, providing a relaxing atmosphere for clients to spend time will entice members to seek out services at the spa. “We are in the luxury service business so we need to have a facility that is alluring and presentable,” said Cantor. “Regardless of whether we are in a five-star hotel, we are offering a five-star service. That means the facility has to be clean, modern and well kept. Beverages, refreshments, flowers, etc., have to be utilized to make clients feel they are getting luxury service that is accessible.”
However, what might be the most important factor to a spa’s success is outstanding staff, as these are the people who have hands-on contact with the member.
“Our therapists are what really set us apart from the rest of the spas in our area,” said Perhach. “During our interview process, not only do we have a verbal interview to review the therapist’s credentials, we also undergo a 30-minute test massage with the hiring manager to ensure that the therapist is listening to the clients’ needs,” said Perhach. “No client at Aura Spa will receive the same massage or facial; we tailor our services to each individual’s needs.”
One way to develop a strong staff is through continuing education. Staff training is the number-one priority for The Milagro Spa & Salon at The Atlantic Clubs in New Jersey. The club’s spas are even closed on Mondays to dedicate time for training.
“We have a very strong emphasis on customer service, similar to The Atlantic Club,” said Carly Immen, the corporate sales and marketing director at The Milagro Spa & Salon. “We work with our vendors to make sure our technicians are being trained in the latest techniques, whether it is new services, techniques in hair or trends, so that we are offering our clients the best possible services. Training develops quality of service and execution.”
Want to get the word out about your salon and spa? Try hosting events where members can sample services or products. In November, The Milagro Spa & Salon hosted a skin care event for its Decleor line of products. “We were booked solid all day with 105 appointments,” said Kevin McHugh, the chief operating officer of The Atlantic Club. “Each person pays $40 to attend, then when they buy a product they get their $40 back in a credit. It introduces people who might not want to spend $100 on a facial to our services. It is good for the club, spa and our clients.”
The bottom line is health and fitness clubs are in the service industry — their success is based on membership sales and retention. Spas can provide a unique way to keep members engaged with the club. “Clubs have to compete in a very competitive marketplace,” said Cantor. “But to be able to keep members, get new members and get them at the best rate possible, they need to have a facility that offers all of the amenities that people are looking for — accessible luxury.”
By Emily Harbourne