Expert View: Angie Petkovic

In touch with trends

Marketing expert Angie Petkovic on how to help your staff keep up with industry trends, and why it's important

It’s no secret that the beauty and spa industries are growing at a rapid pace and that they are outstripping many other international industries in terms of product development and new techniques and treatments. In fact, the industry is growing so fast that it’s impossible for spas and therapists to adopt all emerging trends, or for many of the trends to become more than fleeting. So how can businesses, and their staff, stay up to date with emerging trends, even if you’re not planning to bring them into the spa?

Trends can be a new treatment, but can also refer to changes in the expectations clients have when visiting a spa. Either way, keeping up to date with trends is essential to ensure that your business continues to meet customers’ needs. A key concern of many business owners and managers is that employees often show limited interest in or knowledge of new trends, focussing instead on the day-to-day aspect of their job: offering excellent client care and high-quality treatments.

While this is of course a good thing, a lack of trend awareness can contribute to a diminished client experience, as it may lead to staff not meeting clients’ changing needs. The obvious place to start when it comes to ensuring that staff are up to date on their knowledge not jus about the treatments they perform but of the industry as a whole is with industry magazines and websites.

Reading up
Featuring articles by industry experts and other useful information, they also include case studies and other business examples that can be helpful. You should prioritise publications in the country you’re based in, as these will include a focus on the domestic, and on local markets. However, you should also keep an eye on international publications that profile spas worldwide and that will keep you in touch with emerging trends around the world.

It’s a great idea for your therapists to read about what other spas are doing, whether or not they are competitor businesses. Looking at other spas’ USPs and the extra little touches they offer can give you and your staff ideas and help improve the overall client experience at your spa. Most of these publications with have newsletters and social media accounts, in addition to the main magazine or website, making it easy and simple to keep up with what they publish.

 As an employer, you also need to take responsibility and facilitate your staff keeping up with the latest industry trends and developments. This can but doesn’t have to be by providing them with the relevant information, such as access to industry publications. You can also do this simply by clearly communicating the expectations you have on them when it comes to keeping themselves informed on the industry, the business and client demand.

A helping hand

The help you offer staff can include:

Setting official targets and objectives: Include this as part of their personal development plan. These objectives could include research on their part, to keep up with what’s going on in the industry. This could be a great way to ensure staff make this part of their weekly activities. 

Setting aside time for research. Depending on the significance you place on your therapists being aware of what’s going on in the industry, you could include a monthly “allowance” of non-treatment time, specifically for research. Often, this could be counted as part of your staff’s continuing professional development (CPD).

Professional Association Membership: The majority of professional associations will provide an insurance-free membership for your therapists. This will not only help them stay connected to industry trends, but also provides other benefits, including an official register of CPD points, money-saving deals, discounted training courses and much more. Even better, some of the professional associations offer a corporate membership, which provides membership for each of your therapists at a lower cost per person.

Workshops and exercises: If you’re not keen on building in time for individual research or targets and objectives, then a collective/group approach can be just as effective. A group meeting, with a set agenda and plenty of notice for research, can be an excellent way for staff

to identify and discuss new trends and their relevance to the spa environment. An added bonus is that these meetings also give an opportunity to discuss other issues relating to the business and to encourage therapists to share their ideas for the business. Which means it can help maintain good communication and keep staff motivation up.

In the end, you have to decided what you think the commercial value of you staff being up on the latest industry trends and innovations is; how much emphasis you want to place on it and how much time and money you are willing to spend on helping them.

Angie Petkovic is managing director of UK-based PR and marketing firm Apt PR, whose clients include spas and whose services range from branding, mystery shopping and design and print, to point of sale expertise, strategy input and event organisation.