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Only on SkinInc.com: How Your Spa Can Cash In On Increased Spa Travel

Posted: December 7, 2011

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Get listed at all the top search engines, travel and spa sites, and maximize and update your listing every few months. You would be surprised how many spa properties will have 10-year-old photos, or no photos or video, or incorrect contact info, at the key sites where millions of people are researching their next spa vacation or visit.

Develop an online review strategy. Having a set process in place to gather a high volume of positive reviews about your spa is utterly crucial in attracting traveling and local spa-seekers. A new study from Cone Research found that 9-in-10 consumers now turn to online reviews when they’re selecting products/services/travel, and a staggering 4-in-5 changed their mind based on negative info they found online. And now that Google puts your spa’s reviews right in a searchers face (they’re in both the organic search results and all over your Google Places page), the importance of having a positive online reputation is dramatically ramped up. Have an ongoing process to get reviews posted directly at Google Places (they have most visibility), but also at all the sites such as Yelp, Citysearch, TripAdvisor, SpaFinder and Yahoo! Local. The lynchpin to gathering reviews is pretty simple: Ask your happy spa clients nicely. If you want to make it easy for them, if they say yes, send them a simple e-mail with the links to the review sites in it, so all they have to do is click and post. You can also canvas your Facebook followers. The sheer impact of reviews on which spa destinations get chosen can’t be overstated.

Let’s make the right deal. A very surprising finding in the new State of Spa Travel survey was that 55% of agents reporting that hotel, resort and destination spas were actually more aggressive with deals this year than they were in 2010—and another 37% say they deals are just a strong. The reality is you live in the “Deal Age,” and compelling deals are big factor in attracting the spa traveler. A recent SpaFinder survey found that 34% of hotel/resort spas have now already worked with an online deal site. And more will experiment with that platform going forward, because there are more options beyond the flash-mob, generic model. For one, there are new luxury- and spa-specific deal platforms, such as a Gilt City or SpaFinder’s SpaRahRah, that specifically target high-quality and spa-going customers. And more sites in general like a LivingSocial or SpaRahRah are letting “stay” spas exert far greater control over their deal parameters, letting them routinely setting caps of, for instance, dozens of deals (not thousands), and letting them set up more realistic, brand-protecting discounts—30% not 75% off. And “stay” spas are getting smarter about structuring and managing their online deals: restricting usage to low-occupancy months or days of the week, and putting a big focus on retention to get that guest/spa-goer back for repeat visits. And at sites that let you list your deals all the time, like SpaFinder, get those deals out—and keep them fresh!

Day spas. Day spas can actually get into the “spa travel” action, and grab business from the growing numbers of people who want stress-reduction or a beauty boost on their trips, too. Think about reaching out to or partnering with hotels very near your spa (properties that don’t have a spa themselves), and setting in place special campaigns/discounts for their guests. They can communicate that offer in e-mails and at the front desk, Or partner with local businesses where tourists shop heavily. Or partner with a hotel “sans spa” to bring massages and more into their guests’ rooms that you provide. In-room spa treatments are a big trend, too.

Spa travel is up—and here’s to even bigger growth in 2012—and your spa grabbing more of the “traveling” spa dollar.