Spa industry challenges and trends revealed at PB focus group

Recruitment issues, third-party booking platforms and sustainability measures were just a few of the hot topics discussed at Professional Beauty’s spa directors’ focus group this week.

The focus group took place at Professional Beauty’s offices in Wimbledon, London, on Monday, 3 February, and brought a roundtable of spa owners from across the country to discuss the challenges facing the industry. 

Spas reported that, on the whole, business had seen a boost following the recent General Election, with an increased sense of stability improving consumer confidence and encouraging spend. 

Recruitment

However, similarly to the salon owners focus group, recruitment and staff retention was identified as an ongoing concern for spa owners. With fewer students coming out of college via the traditional route, many spa directors are now recruiting apprentices. However, they often struggle to place them in colleges, and rely on close personal relationships with local lecturers.

Many are also now turning to mature applicants looking for a career change and have found these older therapists are typically more reliable and better at building a rapport with clients of a similar age. However, the group unanimously agreed that more needs to be done to inspire the next generation to enter the spa industry.   

Staff retention

To boost staff retention, one spa director said they host an afternoon tea and a certification ceremony to celebrate therapists’ achievements. Many find that their therapists are less motivated by free products, but instead offer monthly treatments, time off from work, or opportunities to use the spa facilities at quiet times as incentives.

Third-party bookings

Third-party booking platforms were also on the agenda. In the shift to online bookings, many spa owners want to gain more direct bookings from their clients, as third-party websites take a significant percentage and rarely lead to repeat custom. Ideas around how to tackle this problem included introducing a loyalty scheme for customers booking directly, or offering ‘bounce-back’ deals if clients rebook within 24 hours of their last visit. More complex dynamic pricing were also discussed as an altenative way to boost bookings in quiet mid-week periods.

Sustainability

Sustainability in spas was also a big talking point, with many directors sharing the efforts they have made to become more eco-conscious. Many found that these changes have also brought financial benefits to the business. One spa owner has swapped to a more sustainable product house, whereas others have made simple swaps such as sourcing biodegradable wet kit bags or asking guests to bring their own flip-flops in an effort to reduce single-use waste. 

Spa trends

Other “trends” discussed included treatments and packages for women going through menopause; increased efforts to bring light and a sense of space into the spa; the need to create a sense of theatre to provide a more of a memorable (and in some cases Instagram-able) experience.

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