Creating the right menu for your customers is an essential ingredient of the success surrounding any spa. Menu engineering is the art of implementing such a menu. This post takes into consideration some of the insights shared by Katie Barnes in a recent article published on spabusiness.com. The following post introduces the development, basic principles and best practices behind menu engineering.
The Traditional Idea
Just until recently, the idea of having a large treatment menu, which implied a significant offering of therapies and treatments, was taken as a clear indication of the quality of the menu. However, this idea has lost terrain during the last years because of the obstacles it presents.
First, having a large treatment menu forces spas to invest a lot of time and money into it. Second, customers may be confused with a complex menu where they do not know what kind of therapies are the best ones to choose. In this context, spas and wellness centres realised they needed to make their offering “easier and more financially viable for themselves”.
Following this, operators started to work on the design of treatment menus capable of providing spas with the economic revenue and the customer satisfaction they wanted to achieve. At that point, the fundamental dilemma was finding the right balance between the following three elements: the number and types of treatments included in the menu, the spa’s economic revenue, and the expectations of the customer.
Basic Principles and Best Practices
There is a broad consensus among experts about the negative effects of having a large treatment menu. It not only confuses the client but also affects the quality of the overall service. To this regard, Sheila McCann, Corporate director of spa brand quality at Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, says that having too many treatments “can be a recipe for mediocrity”. In other words, it is better to focus on quality rather than quantity.
There is also a broad consensus about the uniqueness of each spa. As stated by Judith Singer, President and co-founder of Health Fitness Dynamics Inc (HFD Spa), “each spa needs a menu with description and photos that captures its DNA”. The elaboration of a good treatment menu must take into consideration all kinds of variables including the location and the age of the property.
Along those lines, it is important for spas to avoid the common mistake of using profitability as the only factor to consider when building a treatment menu. Spas should maintain a good range of choices on their menus including treatments capable of setting the spa apart from competitors as well as those capable of reinforcing the whole concept behind the spa. Some treatments, in fact, may help the spa to achieve goals that are not necessarily based on profitability.
Writing the treatment menu is one of the most important and challenging tasks involved in a full menu engineering process. The language of the different services must be simple, clear and informative. Adding a description next to the different services included in the menu or introducing a few words about the concept that defines the spa help customers to make a smooth selection of the treatments they want.
In terms of reducing the number of treatments included in the menu, spas can opt for a combination of old favourites with new, interesting therapies. Drastic changes should be avoided. Linsey Hughes, Spa director at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, advices spas to “avoid making too many changes in one go” as regular guests may “feel that they can no longer get what they want”.
Finally, the price of your treatments must be carefully analysed. Ideally, it should be based on the spa’s competition and position in the market place. Today, the price also needs to take into account the current financial crisis. Creative packages aimed at allowing customers to up-grade their spa experience are a good option to deal with the current times.
No Longer An Optional
The bottom line surrounding menu engineering is that this process is no longer an optional. Any modern spa or wellness centre needs to spend some time trying to understand what works and what does not. According to Judith Singer “if a spa doesn’t properly understand and analyse what it’s doing – and make adjustments – it may not be doing it for long”.
Menu engineering is a process based on quality and performance that brings into consideration the whole operational aspect of the spa. Because of this, menu engineering is an essential process that should be embraced by any spa. This process is an essential factor that could easily make the difference between success and failure.