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One of the fastest growing segments of the consumer services industry is that of spas. According to the most recent survey released in 2008 by the International Spa Association (ISPA) and Pricewaterhouse Cooper, the current growth rate of the spa industry is 24% per year. There are approximately 18,100 spas in the United States alone, and over 11,000 of them are day spas. The rest are in locations such as wellness centers, resorts, hotels or country clubs. The spa industry in the U.S. currently serves over 138 million people and brings in annual gross revenue of $10.9 billion.

However, many people either don’t want to travel to a distant spa or prefer a more intimate setting with a massage therapist whose techniques they are familiar with. By looking at what spas are doing to attract clients, and learning how to implement similar features into your own practice, will help you stand out from others.

6 Ways to Integrate Spa Success

It is easy to incorporate what spas are doing into your own practice, whether you work alone or with others in a small private practice. Keep in mind though, creating a spa-like setting, along with a client-centered philosophy doesn’t have to cut into your bottom line. Most of the suggestions cost little or nothing to implement and your clients will return for more.

  1. Offer Excellent Customer Service – This is perhaps the most important of all. Whether your focus is medical rehabilitation, stress reduction or an afternoon of pampering, your client needs to feel that your focus is completely on them. From the time you set up a new appointment, until and beyond the time they leave your office, make your client feel welcome and important. Always remember to be polite and patient, whether your client is new or a longtime patron.
  2. Selling Massage-Related Products – The addition of product sales to your business will not only please your clients and keep them coming back, but may also increase your income. Clients often ask about the music you are playing during a session, an oil or cream you are using or a candle you are burning. Being able to offer these items for sale will enable you to offer them a kind of body, mind, spirit service. You may even want to expand further and carry health related books, massage tools or instructional videos.
  3. Themed Settings – Clients are often influenced not only by the therapist, but also by the atmosphere of the office. Spas often have some kind of themed d├ęcor, sometimes depending on where they are located or what kind of services they specialize in. A spa in the Arizona, for example, might have a southwestern motif, and a spa specializing in Shiatsu, Thai and Lomi Lomi massage might use an Asian theme. Your interior design can be achieved through the simple use of color, framed posters and music. You can get more elaborate with furnishings or even fountains.
  4. Special Signature Treatments – Along with a beautiful themed setting, offering unique signature treatments will set you apart from those doing only basic traditional massage. Many large spas offer either a unique massage routine or technique they have developed and even patented, like Esalen. Others offer sessions based on location themes, like the Hershey Park Spa. Their packaged treatments often sound more like soda fountain treats – Chocolate Fondue, Strawberry Parfait and Cocoa Massage. The sessions may offer combinations of treatments such as a massage, a pedicure and a facial or body wrap. You don’t need to get very elaborate, just creative. This might include networking with other professionals, such as licensed aestheticians to complement your massage.
  5. Classes or Seminars – Depending on the size of your office, you might also consider conducting classes or seminars on topics that would be of interest to your clients. You may know someone who teaches Yoga or Tai Chi, or who can teach a course in aromatherapy. You may be able to teach infant massage to new mothers or a class in stretching.
  6. Comfortable Setting – Your setting should be not only beautiful and relaxing, but also keep the comfort of the client in mind. Consider using warming pads on your massage table or scented eye pillows. Soft flannel sheets or even light blankets will help to keep your clients warm. Offering some herbal tea in a nice private setting after the massage helps to extend the relaxation, and the client needn’t have to run out immediately after a session.

Some of these suggestions will be easier to integrate into your practice than others. Choose what is right for you and appropriate for your practice. Sometimes it is necessary to be creative with your ideas. A unique idea is what will make you stand out from your competition and bring new clients to your practice.

“Remember,” writes Monica Roseberry, in her book Marketing Massage, “What makes you different makes you memorable, and if you want to expand on your additions to draw a clientele that wants more than just a rubdown, creating an aura or atmosphere that is unlike your client’s regular environment or unlike a typical clinical setting may hold a strong appeal.”

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