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SpaFinder Releases 2011 Global Spa Trends to Watch Report With Exclusive Commentary From SpaFinder President Susie Ellis

Posted: December 3, 2010

page 6 of 12

Gone are the days when coupons were unfashionable things people snipped out of the newspaper, and spas wouldn’t think of using the term “deal.” Well, put an “e-” or “group” in front of “coupon,” and you suddenly have the Internet mania of 2010, poised to accelerate at an even more dizzying pace in 2011. Online group-buying deals have burst onto the global scene, and the old-fashioned “deal” has morphed into a hip online industry. With spa and wellness deals a mainstay of generic sites like GroupOn or LivingSocial, it’s a sure sign that spa-going has achieved mainstream traction.

Also, with so many spa deals being blasted into inboxes, an extraordinary effect has been that millions of people are now expanding their spa horizons, trying new spas and experiences they wouldn’t have without the “50%-75% off.” With savvy marketers backed by hundreds of millions in venture capital, deals will certainly remain a huge deal in 2011, but SpaFinder forecasts change is on the horizon.

Watch for: Consolidation and a “dot-deal” shakeout (on the dot-com model); personalized and spa-specific deals from spa-specific platforms like SpaRahRah; manageable offers that don’t overwhelm spas with customers; deals “on the spot,” thanks to mobile apps; an intense focus on retention of the “deal” customer; and even deal fatigue. Ultimately, having a regular spa appointment with a favorite therapist at a familiar spa will trump the few dollars saved in the deal frenzy. For Deals Gone Wild ... You mention some of the downfalls of Groupon-type deals for smaller spas. What suggestions would you have for smaller spas that want to take advantage of mass discounting but are worried about the downfalls?

Susie Ellis: Spas should, of course, investigate deal sites beyond just Groupon, many of which can offer more flexibility (offering lower, or no minimum number of people for each deal to be “on”). Many sites also take a smaller percentage cut, as well as targeting a more exclusive market of customers and spa-goers than just the mass, generic hordes of bargain hunters. Just for example, Living Social offers deals without a minimum number of participants, takes a smaller percentage, attracts a very social-media-savvy crowd and, if a consumer gets three friends to sign up, their deal is free: encouraging social posting and Tweeting.