Revisiting the 2011 Spa Trends


Now that the year is coming to an end, it is time to look back at the predictions the spa industry set up at the beginning of this 2011. In particular, we would like to review the predictions made by Susie Ellis, the President of Spa Finder, a well known media company dedicated to the global spa market place.

At Spa Balance, we have used Spa Finder’s trends analysis as a reliable reference source because of the attention they have devoted to the spa industry over the last decade. In a previous post, we featured a very interesting article about the top wellness travel trends that Health and Fitness Travel unveiled for 2012. Now, however, it is time to take a closer look at how the spa industry has evolved in 2011.  In order to do so, we would like to visit Spa Finder’s 2011 Spa Trends Analysis to see how the 2011 trends-predictions fared out this year, and finally, share our thoughts from our experience in 2011.


Ageing, ranging and pain relief treatments

The increasing number of ageing baby boomers has brought a new business opportunity for the spa industry in terms of pain relief treatments. Spa Finder hit Bull’s Eye on this prediction. In fact, this is something we definitely see a growing need for and will be a hot issue for the next coming years as spas will need to revise their business model and tap into new markets in order to survive and evolve. A definite A+ from Spa Balance.


All eyes on Asia

Considering the world economy as a whole, this was probably one of the easiest predictions to make at the beginning of 2011. This is, in fact, a trend that we agree upon.  Asia is, and will be, undoubtedly the hot spot for the next couple of years with India and China’s growing tourism sector, which includes the spa industry, leading the way.


Salt rooms and salt caves

We feel that the increase in these kinds of therapies did not really unfold in 2011. This prediction, which was based on recent discoveries regarding the medical benefits of these treatments, did not really flourish because of the high costs and limited technology linked to these therapies. For instance, in Spain this has not been a trend that has taken off, and we think that this is something that will probably come up in the next few years. Perhaps it is still slightly early for this.


The spa brandwagon

Although this prediction was accurate, we feel that the spa industry will need to wait longer to see this hitting off. For instance, looking at the markets Spa Balance works in (Southern Europe and Middle East), we think this trend will be on the radar for the next coming years as an inevitable step forward in the spa industry. We will be seeing more chains, brands, budget spas, mergers and acquisitions in the near future. Although we think this trend has undoubtedly started in 2011, we feel that it will take shape in 2012 and gain momentum in years to follow.


Deals gone wild

Another Bull’s Eye for Spa Finder. There is no doubt that 2011 has been a year where we have seen unprecedented deals and promotions in sites like Groupon and Lets Bonus, and we think this trend will continue strong into 2012 and perhaps 2013. To a large extent, this trend has been consolidated because of recent developments on e-commerce activities. With over 500 group-buying sites worldwide, spa-going has achieved massive, mainstream action.

Towards the future, this trend may continue to flourish thanks to further developments in different technologies such as new personalization software, spa-specific platforms able to better target the needs of the customer, a wider use of location-based powerhouses like Facebook, Google and Yelp, and the development of mobile applications. Although future deals may not be as ‘wild’ as they are now, they will probably be offered in a more selected way.


The science of spa

This prediction was realised on May of 2011 with the launch of SpaEvidence, the world’s first portal aimed at providing medical evidence for spa and wellness therapies. The elaboration of medical literature supporting the treatments offered by our sector will continue to be a hot issue in the spa industry for years to come.

Initiatives like SpaEvidence help put the spa industry on the map, and as more consumers and trade professionals are looking into the efficacy of spa therapies, we look forward to seeing more clinical studies coming to light.

As we previously discussed in our article about treatments for patients with cancer, various players within the spa industry are moving into the health field. The more this happens, the higher the need to prove the benefits of treatments that are offered in spas and wellness centres. We feel that The Science of Spa is one of the most important trends that unfolded this year and we look forward to seeing it develop further in the coming years.


Hyper-local spas

Spot-on. From the very beginning, spas have incorporated into their structures and service offerings all kinds of indigenous treatments, local cuisine and programming. This is something that according to Spa Finder, and we agree, the industry has been doing quite well.

Even in a country like Spain, which is quite resilient or hesitant to change, early this year we opened the Spa at Hostal Empuries (Girona) where we implemented this concept. Taking this a step further, the art and artifacts used to decorate the spa were sourced from local craftsmen. In terms of spa treatments, products used were recycled.  For example, one of VOYA’s specialities, seaweed leaf used in the treatments are recycled for use in the vegetable garden instead of flushing them ‘down the drain’.


Extreme beauty: Spa edition

This was also an accurate prediction from Spa Finder. To some extent, it has been consolidated around the arrival of a significant portion of ageing baby boomers into the market who want to look good and beautiful. They want to feel and look nice from the inside out and also outside in!

This prediction is also the result of the modern beauty seeker. Today, beauty seekers are not only taking advantage of a broader range of therapies to choose from but also pushing all known boundaries in order to achieve the results they want to obtain.


Spa in a New York minute

At Spa Balance we find that in our markets this prediction did not really unfold this year. However, we have seen the beginning of it. We think this trend will take momentum in the next few years. We are noticing that more and more spas are developing an express menu for their clients. For instance, in Spain this has just begun, and we think this is something that will hit off in 2012 and the coming years.


Surprising special events

Although these activities involve creativity and are very positive for the dynamism of the industry, we agree with Susie Ellis that this prediction has some way to go. We believe this will be something that takes on momentum in the next couple of years. Perhaps not as strongly as other trends that did not quite hit off in 2011.


Additional trends from Spa Balance

We would also like to share with you some of our own findings this year. The first has to do with low-cost initiatives. Besides deals going wild, we have seen the popping up of many budget initiatives for the basic bread and butter treatments (pedicure, manicure, waxing), including massages. Thanks to cheaper labour coming from other countries, the overhead costs of spas and beauty centres have been reduced significantly allowing these new establishments to maintain very low prices.

Second, there has been a rise in complementary therapies. More and more clients and medical practitioners are looking into alternative therapies.  For instance, hospitals like 12 de octubre in Madrid have Reiki volunteers visiting the oncology ward.

With these findings we are ready to close 2011 and move into 2012. We would like to invite you to read our upcoming post where we will be looking at 2012 trends and share our own predictions for next year.

By Sonal

Sonal Uberoi creates and delivers smarter spas around the world. Spas and hotel groups hire Sonal to help them design, set up and manage their wellness businesses. Her finance background and worldwide operations experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality sectors make Sonal the go-to expert for business optimisation solutions. Connect with Sonal on LinkedIn

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  1. Pingback: Las 10 Principales Tendencias del Sector de Spas para el 2012 | Spa Balance

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