How to attract the millennial spa-goer

Health and Fitness Travel co-founder Paul Joseph explains why it’s crucial to attract the millennial spa-goer, and how to do it.

The future of the spa industry is in the hands of millennials, a “look good, feel good” clientele used to getting what they want when they want it and dropping it if it doesn’t rate. Millennial spa-goers are different in that if you don’t have a slick website they’ll never visit, if you don’t offer incentives they’ll pass you by and the act of going to the spa has to fit within their already busy lives. Which means keeping them coming back is challenging. For spas, the trickiest aspect of the millennial conundrum is to know what this clientele wants.

The spa-goers of the future are made up of educated, busy individuals who are tech savvy and often cash rich but time poor. They want to be able to use their smartphones to find out everything they need before arriving at the spa and a typical millennial consumer is already using a number of different apps to research which treatments are trending. To stay ahead, spas need to offer the latest treatments, use the right technology to interact with clients and make sure they’re part of setting the trends.

Modernise and personalise
Personalisation has always been important in spas, but it’s even more key to the millennial client. Any successful spa must carefully tailor each treatment to the client, whether it’s to their sensitive skin or tight back muscles, clearly labelling the benefits and emphasising to millennials that “you need this because you’re unique”. As co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, I’ve noticed that our younger millennial clients tend to seek out spa treatments to treat a particular health issue.

A luxurious, long weekend just doesn’t fit with their lifestyle, it seems far too indulgent. Instead they want to utilise spas to achieve something, be it a stop-smoking programme or a detox retreat. Pleasure isn’t the main factor anymore, longevity is. We all love a good rose petal bath, but what’s it really going to achieve? Spas need to offer treatments and programmes that cater for consumers’ needs and don’t just follow traditional spa practices.

A day of thalassotherapy means nothing to the millennial consumer but a “45-minute hydro-stress relief session” is exactly what they want and need. In reality it’s just a condensed version of the real thing, but with a modern name and a more tangible time limit.

Digital detox
Along with an emphasis on modern treatments with optimal results there is also a need to escape the digital age for a while. Despite having used a computer, iPad or smartphone to get themselves to the spa, clients want the chance to feel unreachable once they’re there. In contrast to the typically luxurious and indulgent atmosphere of a spa, there is now a call for an environment of spiritual wellness where clients can completely disconnect from the modern, fast-paced world.

That said, there is a limit to this unreachability. While spas should remain a relatively phone-free, call-free zone, they should also offer free wi-fi so clients feel comfortable sharing their spa experience. Some millennial clients may want to “check-in” and share selfies with friends, family and followers. Striking the right balance between digital disconnect and a social media presence is going to be difficult for spas. However, walking the line between a successful business and offering genuine rejuvenation has always been tricky, so spas are used to balancing acts.

One of my top tips would be to not forget the kids. When millennials have children they want to bring them to the spa, so be family friendly. “Mini wellness” designed especially for children’s wellbeing is going to become increasingly important, just like babycinos in your favourite coffee shop. Think mini manicures and pampering sessions rather than leaving the kids out of the spa. Everyone wants the best for their kids and it’s becoming more and more common for parents to include them in their daily activities.

If spas are to survive, they need to accommodate the millennial customer, update what they offer and use the latest technology to make everything more accessible. This clientele wants value for money; they are prepared to pay for luxury but they want to have the best spa experience money can buy.

Wellness travel specialist Paul Joseph is co-founder of UK-based Health and Fitness Travel, which was established in 2010 and offers healthy holidays to destinations around the world. He has a background in marketing, PR and sales within the health and tourism industries and consults on wellness strategy for a number of leading hotels.