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Your New Reception Desk--Your Web Site

By: Mary Blackmon
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the April 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

When curious clients enter your spa, there is no doubt that they are going to be greeted warmly and kindly by your front desk team. Your front desk policy ensures that your team is always welcoming, never intimidating and happy to answer all questions—providing details on treatments and prices, and even making recommendations. Maybe they heard about your spa from a friend, read about it or even discovered it online. Whatever the case may be, now these clients are here, interested in your business, and are yours for the taking. You wouldn’t let them walk out without providing the best representation of your services and specialties, as well as a friendly welcome, would you? Of course not!

Well, whether you realize it or not, this is the exact same thing that is happening almost every time online spa-goers visit your Web site. This is your opportunity to hook them on your spa—to make their experience with your site nonintimidating, welcoming, informative, educational, enlightening and addictive.

How do you do that? Take time and care with your Web site, making sure that it is representative of the quality of experience that is provided in the brick and mortar version of your virtual business.

An experience or a roadblock?

Your front page should be enticing and engaging. Are you thinking about having a flash intro—one with moving graphics or a small Web-based movie? Well, before you shout “yes,” there are pros and cons to having one. Bad news first: It is possible that this gorgeous, inviting, elegant, beautiful video may be a roadblock to busy online spa-goers who want to log onto your site. They may become impatient with the load time and not know where to click, which will only result in frustration. Plus, it also can be a hindrance to search engines that rank Web sites for searches. Specifically, a flash intro page can make it more difficult to get a higher ranking, simply because the search engines can’t read the flash. Remember, text is readable by search engines and graphics are not. On the other hand, the intro can be really beautiful, enabling you to express creativity, style and ambiance while offering potential clients the chance to “experience” the mood that your spa offers.

A direct reflection

Aesthetically, your home page should represent a color, theme or style that is similar to or consistent with the décor of your spa. The stylizing of the site is a direct reflection of your unique approach to your business, which surely is easily differentiated from every other spa in your town. So reflect your spa’s individuality, mission and even market positioning when contemplating your design, or redesign. If you own an ayurvedic spa, convey that motif in your theme. If you’re a smaller boutique known for personalized hands-on services by the owner, include a friendly note of introduction from the owner, as well as an inviting picture of the surroundings.