How Important are Product Houses in a Spa Operation?

 

Considering the enormous amount of attention that hoteliers, spa owners, managers and directors pay to the brand of a product house, we as spa consultants are constantly faced with the challenge of measuring the effectiveness of a product brand. While the product brand you use is an integral part of the spa, the bottom line question to ask remains the same: How important is the product brand in the success of a spa?

 

The common observation

There are several mistakes that hoteliers, spa owners and managers very often make regarding the integration of a product brand into their businesses. The first one is thinking that a product brand is THE deciding factor of the success of the spa. Unfortunately, this very simplistic idea is very common within our industry.

Along those lines, another frequent mistake is choosing the product brand according to personal preferences rather than looking at the concept of the spa and then making a choice of the best-fit partner. In fact, very often, many hoteliers and spa directors think that by putting a certain brand that THEY like themselves, be it one the hotel’s General Manager’s wife has used or a spa director has worked with, the spa will run by itself and customers will pour in through the door.

 

The ‘Ah ha’ moment

Once spas and wellness centres realise customers do not actually pour in, they enter into a negative cycle that is further worsened by spa manager turnover. They find themselves with excess stock (perhaps near to their expiration date), the spa manager or director leaves, and the new person in charge blames the old product brand choosing one he/she likes. In this way, the new manager goes to another product house, the spa invests a whole lot of money in new stock and training of staff, and writes a new treatment menu leaving the big problem unresolved.

With this staff turnover at the management level, spas enter into the typical syndrome of ‘putting down’ the old brand of products while convincing themselves that by replacing the old brand with one they are familiar with, this will magically solve the problems of the spa business. In the end, spas and wellness centres end up adapting their menus to the treatments that the product houses provide instead of the other way around. Even worse, the spas find themselves with menus that have both ‘old’ and ’new’ treatments creating further confusion among clients.

 

The right strategy

At Spa Balance we think the product house is definitely important for the spa. However, what should come first is the concept of the spa – something that nearly always gets missed by hoteliers, spa owners and managers. Once a clear concept has been created, the spa must choose the product house or houses that best fit its concept and the treatment and services menu that goes in line with the concept.

Nowadays, the biggest mistake is that of introducing the product house YOU like without knowing what your client likes, and trying to define your concept and base your treatments according to a particular product house. In our experience as spa consultants, we have not been fortunate enough to come across a case where a concept has been created and thereon the appropriate spa product brand chosen.

Once the concept has been developed, the spa must search for product houses that have a similar concept. It also needs to find out what are the product house’s strong selling treatments, for example, if they are strong in the facial line or their body line. The spa must also find out what support they have in terms of training, marketing, and PR. Remember that your product house companies should not be treated as mere suppliers, but rather as strategic partners that can help you sell and position your business.

In terms of treatment menu development, try to start with a lean menu with the basic treatments and as your customer base expands, add treatments that your clients demand. It is not advisable to incorporate all treatments of the product house in one go. Moreover, try to find out what customers think, what your team thinks, and see how they can support you.

 

Be loyal to your spa concept

We found this an interesting subject to write about, as it is something we see spas constantly struggling with. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to remain loyal to the concept of your spa, which means that the product brand you choose must fit that concept. If you want to share your experience regarding this interesting topic, we would love to hear your opinion.

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 www.linkedin.com/in/sonaluberoi.

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