How to develop your spa concept – Part 1


In matters related to personal services, innovation and a well-designed concept are the key to a successful business. The spa industry is no exception. Many times spas are built without taking into consideration the importance of creating a robust and clear concept. In fact, in majority of the cases, the spa concept is actually developed after the spa has been built! Hence most spa businesses fail during the first few years of operation.

During the next 2 weeks, we will be looking at a few points we can learn from more developed industries on how to create a strong, coherent and successful spa concept.  This week, we will be looking at the basic steps one needs to take in order to convert their ideas about their future spa into a financially sound concept.


Clarity and coherence in concept

Drawing from an article written for the restaurant industry by Devra Gartenstein from Demand Media, the kind of therapies and services that your spa offers has to be the guideline behind the whole concept: decoration, atmosphere, lighting and staff uniforms. If a spa specializes in Thai massage, the venue will be much more attractive if it conveys a consistent atmosphere: a cup of the traditional “cha-yen” tea and a Thai therapist could make a difference.

For this reason, it is truly important that the service menu has a clear direction, based on the techniques that you specialize in, in order to further emphasize the general concept of your spa.

A business with a clear and consistent concept will not only attract clients who search for specific therapies, but also those who are looking for an authentic atmosphere.


Use of appropriate equipment, and not necessarily the newest

Many times, the idea that the newest equipment with the latest technological advances will bring in more customers ends up being counterproductive. Before introducing equipment that can be quite costly, it is worth determining if our market really knows and wants this particular service, and if the demand will cover its cost.

Another aspect to take into account is the concept of your spa, which must be a clear indicator when choosing new equipment: new technologies could clash with a traditional zen spa, and be rather confusing for your clients.

New equipment must support the therapies and services you offer. It must be chosen carefully, weighing its profitability and the expectations of your target market.


Smart pricing strategy

One of the most challenging aspects in the spa industry is finding the right pricing strategy for your spa. Although profit margins are fundamental, it is necessary to consider the spending power of your target audience as well as the competition’s prices in your area.

Overpricing your spa’s treatments and services will not necessarily attract clients who have a greater spending power. An smart pricing strategy implies knowing the needs of your clients, and offering special services at higher prices while at the same time offering your “bread and butter” treatments at competitive prices.


Effective cost control

The importance of implementing a tight cost control system cannot be underestimated. Not all treatments cost the same or yield the same profit margins. Before introducing a new treatment in your menu, it is important to do several trials in order to get the real cost of that service. This will allow you to take into consideration and unforeseen costs that could escalate thereby making the particular treatment less profitable than initially thought.


A Unique selling proposition

Before defining a concept for your spa, it is necessary to explore the services that other similar local businesses are offering. Although your area of specialisation is fundamental, a saturated market could play against you. Offering unique therapies and customized treatments that take advantage of market niches that have not been taken into account yet, is an excellent way to stand out.

As in all businesses, relying on exclusive techniques, qualified therapists and unique products are ways that can differentiate a spa from its competitors. However, the most important factor is to ensure that your clients identify your concept as a special and different experience.

Once you have your ideas of your new spa well thought out, it is important to ensure that you keep your concept simple, clear and authentic. Next week we will be looking at a few more dos and don’ts that we can learn from more mature industries when it comes to concept development.

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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