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Sallie Fraenkel, chief marketing officer of SpaFinder, Inc., offers exclusive commentary about how spas can cash in on the increase in spa travel.
SpaFinder just released its fifth annual State of Spa Travel survey of travel agents, which is designed to shed light on the health of--and trends unfolding in--the spa travel sector. One of the top findings was that people traveling to spa destinations are clocking strong gains this year, with seven in 10 travel agents reporting they’re seeing significant growth in bookings to hotel, resort and destination spas in 2011: That’s up a lot from 2010.
This important, growing opportunity, of course, applies directly to resort, hotel and destination spas. And here I want to offer just a few thoughts and tips about how “stay” spas and day spas can reach and attract even more spa travelers.
Given that luxury and specialty travel is often booked through travel agents, building great relationships with them is critical to grabbing a greater share of this growing market. And the best way for spas to engage the agent community is to start building awareness that you are really willing to work with them. Inviting them to visit your property is a key start. The challenge is that you want to invite those agents who do a lot of spa travel booking or have the potential to do so. There are, of course, a lot of agents out there, some working from home and some doing very low volume, so you want to cherry-pick the right, high-return ones for you. If your hotel/resort already has a travel agent program, make sure that the spa, and the other components of the spa/wellness lifestyle, such as yoga, fitness classes, hiking and healthy cooking classes, are a centerpiece of their experience during their visit.
And if a travel agent is already sending you a solid volume of customers, and that agent hasn’t been to your spa, by all means invite them. It may be worth it to comp their trip to your property, because they will then be far more likely to trumpet your spa to an even wider audience.