By Amy Draheim Founder, ABD Creative
Here's the rub: everyone could use a massage right now. Your spa guests are out there. They're longing to return, they're listening, and they're only a few clicks away. The right communications strategy will make all the difference when it comes to welcoming guests back through your doors. It's time to rethink your spa marketing strategy.
Strike While the Hot Stones Are Hot
Whether you're currently operating a spa, or gearing up to reopen, honing in on your marketing message is key to future bookings. Guests are longing to return, and with the right messaging, they won't need too much convincing.
I received a text message from a spa a month ago telling me I was due for an appointment. "Tell me about it," I thought. When I clicked through, I was brought to a booking engine without any information about the new standards, protocols, or operations. I was confused. Could I really book a facial? I could really use a pedicure, too.
I didn't end up booking with the spa because the communication left me with many questions. I wondered if the message was automated, and if the spa was actually closed. There were many ways this spa could've improved upon its message, starting with sharing what had changed and what to expect. If they'd provided a link to this information, my face and feet would be in better shape right now. Their business might be in better shape, too.
Get Your Guest Communications in Order
In order to operate during the pandemic, spas have to meet requirements based on the state's safety criteria. While putting this information on your website might feel cumbersome, it will reassure guests that it's safe to return. Instead of sharing your cleaning checklist from A to Z, share the details that are guest facing on a dedicated landing page. For example, "We've removed non-essential items from the locker rooms. Hair dryers and curling irons are available upon request and sanitized between use." A dedicated Spa FAQs page is a great option to answer common questions you've received by phone.
Once you've clearly communicated the new safety protocol on your website, link to that dedicated page from the spa section of your site, your spa booking engine, and your spa booking confirmation emails. If you send automated text messages, be sure to provide a link to your new Spa FAQs page as well. Some guests may not need the reassurance, but many will.
As a spa within a hotel, take advantage of your captive audience of hotel guests. Update your hotel's reservation confirmation and pre-arrival emails with information about the new spa experience. When it comes to marketing your spa services to hotel guests, providing a flexible cancellation policy for spa reservations will help make the process worry free. Maybe you'll offer a full refund up to 48 hours before the service, or full credit for a future spa booking. Either way, remaining flexible goes a long way during these uncertain times.
You've established your new spa protocols, updated your guest communications, and now it's time to rethink the spa experience. If there's one place where fewer crowds would feel like a benefit, it's certainly within the walls of a tranquil spa. Letting guests know that they'll feel as if they have the spa to themselves communicates the benefit of capacity limits.
Some of the spa clients I work with in Napa Valley are rethinking their guest flow. Instead of welcoming guests in the lobby and retail area, they're creating outdoor seating areas that are safe for social distancing. They're rethinking their spa gardens as outdoor treatment areas. Where possible, they're also offering private in-room and poolside spa treatments.
A few other ideas might be to provide a pre/post spa kit for guests to enjoy in the comfort of their guest room, like a eucalyptus shower kit, sample size products, and herbal tea. If you're unable to provide your signature spa water, instead of replacing it with bottled water, create a curated beverages list complete with CBD drinks, kefir water, and anything local. These efforts will make guests feel more pampered and less limited.
When it comes to spa retail, you've likely bid farewell to testers. Reorganize your shelf space and package up items into DIY Spa Kits. Toss in instructions from the spa director, and you've just created the perfect souvenir to take home, or a treat for spa goers who aren't comfortable visiting just yet. If you're able to ship retail or offer curbside pick-up, all the better.
Take your new DIY Spa Kits a step further by sharing these curated experiences on social media. Share a weekly spa tip in your feed, or make it interactive using Instagram Stories or Reels. To amplify this content, add a "tag your spa buddy" call to action to instantly earn more engagement.
Go Short on Spa Services, and Long on Spa Experiences
Limiting your spa menu to signature treatments will help you streamline operations, solve staffing issues, and focus your energy on spa experiences. Start thinking outside the spa. Maybe you'll reposition an outdoor reception space as a yoga and meditation garden, at least until group bookings return. Maybe you'll provide sanitized yoga mats for guest use, or a list of the best places to eat healthy, nearby. Maybe to take the edge off, you begin to offer a glass of organic, sulfate-free wine before or after a spa treatment. Maybe you indulge your guests a bit more, in the areas you can control.
My friends over at Brasada Ranch are doing exactly that. They're offering wellness classes like pilates, yoga, and meditation outdoors against the stunning backdrop of the Cascade Mountains. Their fitness studio is now open-air by keeping their industrial, garage doors open throughout the day, and they offer Peloton rides by reservation.
Give Your Guests an Excuse to Book
When it comes to spa bookings, kick off your holiday campaigns early this year. Make gift cards and "book now, spa later" offers prominent throughout your website. Share your offerings across all marketing channels. Create or relaunch hotel stay packages that include spa credits. Build packages that speak to the current season. Maybe you'll launch a teacher appreciation package that includes parents who are homeschooling part-time. Maybe you'll create a "work from home" remedy package that includes daily, in-room back rubs and foot soaks. Get creative and have some fun with it.
Remember That Everyone's an Influencer
Perhaps most importantly, after you've done the work to reposition your spa experience and launch your spa marketing strategy, it's time to listen. Keep an eye on Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Google, and keep a thumb firmly planted on Instagram. The latter makes it easy for guests to share their experiences through Instagram Stories; a personal video feed broadcasted to their followers. FOMO, or fear of missing out, typically ensues, and the only known cures are booking the experience, or eating that pint of Ben & Jerry's stashed in the freezer. Instagram makes it easy to repost, mention, and share guest experiences. With a few taps, you can amplify what people are saying to your own follower base, and effectively convince them that it's time to book.
Stress Less, Spa More
With your new spa marketing strategy in place, your spa experience won't be the only thing that's stress free. As bookings start to roll in, you'll start to feel tension melt away, too. Remember, your stress free strategy starts with sharing the details of what's changed on your website, and then adding that content to all of your customer touch points. Position the new spa experience in a positive light, by adding outdoor experiences, curated and in-room amenities, and rethinking your retail offerings. Along the way, you'll create new stories and experiences worth sharing on social media.
Launch spa campaigns that meet guests where they are, invite guests to book now and spa later, or roll out holiday gift cards early this year. Give guests an excuse to book now, and something to look forward to before year end. Do build your spa services into a hotel package or two, and don't forget to offer a flexible cancellation policy. Your spa guests are out there, they're longing to return, and it's up to you to share your story.