The spa industry is all about offering up experiences that can outlast in the memory of your customer. Regardless of the nature of the treatment, its duration and its purpose, the experiential ambience of your spa has much to offer to a customer’s needs and can go a long way in customer retention and in creating more business. Ambience is much more than spatial aesthetics and involves a deep dive into experiences that cater to the senses.
Why does hospitality matter?
Given that spas are in the business of creating comfortable experiences for the body that translate into relaxation and peacefulness in the mind and soul, there cannot be enough emphasis on the value of good hospitality. A spa fundamentally dispenses personal care services, and the entire assembly of experiences come together to create an impact on the customer seeking out the services. With stress and tension running riot, the choice of a spa centers on the key question of how the experience translates to solving a customer’s particular need. The process, therefore, is all about a means of settling into calmness and to get away from the rigours of everyday life and the myriad tensions it brings. People look for connections that put them at ease and in this space, every little detail contributes significantly. Right from the kind of lighting and space arrangement, to the choice of music, from the ambient noise, to the staff’s courtesy, there is a lot that goes into assembling the perfectly hospitable ambience. From a provider’s side, there needs to be much effort in the form of both, capital and labour, in that training and constantly evolving processes need to play a role.
Ramping up on the ambience
Hospitality is all about an experience. The gentleness and amicable nature of the staff, the structure and navigability of the space, and the ambient setting of the space, all come together to constitute the overall experience of hospitality. Ramping up on hospitality is not just about training staff, but also structuring décor, architecture, music choices and the operation of services. For starters, create the right ambience. Sometimes, you have the luxury of creating your own space to operate the spa. If that’s the case, make sure to construct it with due regard for ergonomics, so that it provides the ambience that accelerates staff efficiency. It is also a good idea to have a blue print of what you would like to create the space to look like. In some instances, the choice is pivoted towards an already existing building or space, in which case you don’t have much of a choice in structuring the space from scratch.
That said, it is a good idea to work with a blue print of what you envisage for the space, moving forwards, and opt for a suitable interior décor option. Make use of woodwork, glass and metal tastefully, and create the space you want your customers to enjoy in. It might also be a good idea to work with experts in Feng Shui and/or Vaastu, particularly to focus on areas where energy may be centered.
It is also a good idea to look at the navigability of the space as well; the layout of the spa should be well structured in a way that it is both, welcoming and cognitive of the privacy of customers.
Given that spa experiences are largely provided by people, it is ideal to have staff who has sufficient experience in the domain. It is a good idea to constantly train your staff to be respectful purveyors of spa treatment, and to have them go the extra mile to take care of the customers. It is important to create a humane and welcoming environment, because automated and robotic services do not add value to the spa experience. One way of doing this is to up the ante on the spa experience for your customers by gamifying the staff’s role, and create comprehensive and regular training that helps the staff evolve. Keep an eye out for customer feedback, and ensure that you respond to it accordingly by correcting any errant behavior, or improving behaviour patterns of the staff.
The right kind of expertise
Another important step in the journey of creating a sound hospitality program at your spa is to build expertise. Sometimes, customers do walk in with a clear idea of what they want and expect from the spa, and are clear in identifying their treatments of choice. But, in some instances, customers either don’t know what they want, or are making a choice that’s not right for them. Hiring an expert who can gently and compassionately coax a customer into understanding what a better choice would look like and how it would translate into a fulfilling experience goes a long way. Your staff should know exactly what each treatment involves, what each product offers, why it is used, and what kinds of treatments go well with specific conditions or skin or hair types, and also offer up remedies that can help the customer carry the impact forward beyond the treatment, or maintain it. It also wouldn't hurt to have a few tricks up the sleeve to address allergies that may come up in some rare instances.
A personal touch
A vital step in building a comprehensive hospitality experience in a spa is building a personal touch. Getting to understand preferences and making note of them, understanding the customer’s needs and building a dedicated database that lists out their services and history of treatments goes a long way towards customer retention. It is a good way to keep track of what a customer’s preferences are, what their needs are and what worked and didn’t work for them in terms of treatment options. Build databases that profile each customer enough to provide them with a satisfactory experience in the spa, and make sure to pivot staff towards relying on the database as a tool for research on each customer. In gathering information, be sure to make your customer aware of why this information is being sought, and how it will be used. Personal touches can be built with this identity and the creation of these personas, so that the customer truly feels welcome and valued all the same.
Going beyond the call of duty
When it comes to creating a welcome environment, good hospitality extends beyond the obvious. Think about creating room to de-stress in every way. Stock the spa with a good reading range—preferably with light hearted books and magazines. It is a good idea to invest in music that creates the perfect ambience without taking away from the serenity of the treatment. Concept oriented spas offer up music specific to the concept in question, although including variety is not frowned upon. Keep the lighting gentle on the eye and yet luminous enough for your customer to make full use of the mirrors and gauge their appearances if a treatment offers styling. Remember to keep the décor gentle on the eye— so investing in art pieces that are tasteful and serene works wonders. Indulge in creating an all encompassing sensual experience and if it means going the whole hog by investing in plug in fountains or cultural décor, go all out.
Even as you focus on creating ambient spa experiences, hygiene is one factor that remains out of bounds where a compromise is concerned. Good hygiene can go a long way in creating great ambiences, too. A good way to approach ambient spa experiences is to build into the little linchpins of hygienic hallmarks: disposable towels, well sterilized equipment, having your staff wear gloves and masks as appropriate, ensuring that your staff are both, dressed well and remain clean, especially around meal times in the spa. Since there is a very close interface between the customer and the therapist or the staff, it is important that the customer feels comfortable being handled by the therapist, and hygiene is given appropriate levels
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