2020 vision: As the year comes to a close, industry experts discuss what’s new—and next—on the ever-changing spa landscape.
Today’s spa owners face a quagmire of quandaries, from nailing the needs of an increasingly savvy clientele to finding and retaining stellar staff members. They must keep up with cutting-edge technologies that can help streamline operations and elevate their menu offerings, while tapping into time-tested guest retention strategies that are once again in demand (think: replacing screen time with face time). And, as people of all ages seek to boost both personal and planetary health, spas must prove themselves to be true partners in well-being. To help make sense of all of this and more, DAYSPA sat down with six industry veterans and visionaries for a conversation about what’s on the horizon as a new decade dawns.
Felicia Brown, business and marketing coach, Spalutions
Denise Dubois, owner, Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness in Saratoga Springs and Albany, New York
Crystal Ducker, vice president of research and communications, International SPA Association (ISPA)
Aliesh D. Pierce, licensed esthetician and director of education, Ask Aliesh
Patty Rook, spa director, Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona, California
Lisa Starr, senior consultant, Wynne Business
What are the top skincare and wellness trends moving into 2020?
Brown: Yoga, infrared heat, light therapy, CBD (of course!) and kombucha.
Dubois: The industry has been moving in the direction of natural, clean and organic skin care for quite a few years, but I expect to see even more consumers and brands pushing for the cleanest, most sustainable products and formulas.
Ducker: In the retail space, spas have moved away from focusing on one or two skincare brands to offer greater diversity. This will continue to grow with new CBD offerings, indie beauty products, at-home devices and even some retro items.
Pierce: Due to increased understanding of the link between the microbiota of the gut and that of the skin, many skincare professionals are looking for formulas that include probiotics and prebiotics. And peptides are always on trend.
Rook: One thing that everyone should be aware of is skin care that fights the effects of pollution. This isn’t just for city-dwellers anymore; as the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment causes adverse change, we’re looking at all forms of pollution.
Starr: I’m seeing a surging interest in meditation; virtual reality (VR) headsets used to create immersive experiences, perhaps while also enjoying a traditional treatment; and community-based and group event opportunities.
Who is the spa client of 2020?
Dubois: Our guests are showing more interest in unique services and holistic experiences. This includes incorporating chakra balancing, meditation, yoga and innovative antiaging treatments. The clients of 2020 will pay more for services and products they see as an investment in their physical and mental health.
Ducker: Spa-goers will be a healthy mix of educated women and men (51 percent and 49 percent, respectively) who range in age from generation Z to baby boomers. In addition to experiencing treatments, more than half are expected to make a retail purchase during their visits.
Pierce: Here in Southern California, the spa client is 30 to maybe 66 years old. She or he could be from any ethnic group, and they just
want to look and feel better without a lot of pharmaceuticals or makeup as they mature.
Rook: They range in age from generation Z to baby boomers, and more men are visiting. They’re seeking clean, sustainable ingredients; customization and tailored offerings; healthy living; and graceful aging.
How is technology changing the face of the industry?
Dubois: It’s helping spas be more efficient and allowing us to get in front of new demographics. Thanks to social media, it’s easy to interact with clients on a personal level, and scheduling platforms and apps have made planning and analyzing seamless. Technology also lets us move toward becoming completely paper-free—something my spa aspires to achieve in 2020. We’re excited to launch new services that combine technology with meditation, too.
Rook: It’s changing the accessibility of unconventional treatments; what we may have considered to be out of reach in the past is now available to everyone. For instance, there’s a massage table by Gharieni with acoustic and vibration therapy that trains the brain to slow down and benefit from deep relaxation. Some other groundbreaking technologies to watch are 3D-printed face masks, cold-pressed cleansers and a 24-karat gold vibrating bar that makes skin look and feel lifted, contoured and revived.
Starr: Online and mobile apointment booking is a requirement today. There are also new systems that help automate and communicate back-of-house functions. Another new technology is SAIFE, which uses a sensor in treatment rooms to track the therapist’s hand movements and record them, without cameras, for those concerned about safety or misconduct.
Ducker: Businesses are more data-driven than ever before. Booking software, marketing automation tools and digital analytics make it easy to keep an eye on purchasing patterns, revenue opportunities and motivators that make the spa’s bottom line happy! Have a last-minute opening? Just push it out on social media and generate some buzz. And of course, artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly emerging within our industry.
What can smaller spas do to create comprehensive wellness experiences for guests?
Brown: Businesses of all sizes can share wellness tips and tools online via social media, as well as in spa. Also, consider printing ‘meditation moment’ cards, which offer a thought for reflection or a wellness tip, left on the treatment table before the session. Invite guests like dieticians or life coaches to offer specialized consultations on a slow day. Or, partner with another lifestyle/wellness business to provide incentives or discounts to clients.
Dubois: Spas can easily add unique touches to their existing services. For example, a chakra awakening offered as part of a massage, or aromatherapy with a facial. If they’re lacking space but still want to provide yoga or wellness classes, they can try partnering with a local gym or studio.
Ducker: Partnerships with local fitness providers, yoga practices and the like are a perfect way to build community relationships and add offerings without breaking the bank. Guided meditation recordings before or during services are also simple ways to enhance spa experiences.
Rook: Start each service with a signature breathing ritual, stretching and meditation—and choose custom treatments that incorporate these, too.
Starr: Educate clients about proper nutrition through videos and handouts. Perhaps lead a weekly walk with a staff member, and open it up to the community. Guided meditation can be done with a few clients sitting around the lounge—every effort counts.
Pierce: Therapists can learn to incorporate musical bowls and gongs into their services, as well as how to add Reiki to their massage offerings.
How can spa owners attract and retain star staff members?
Rook: Target schools that have a hospitality program, and reach out to ones that offer massage therapy and esthetics. We recently began a scholarship program as well. For current staff, this is a nice segue to an education in the service industry, and a lure for potential employees to apply with us.
Brown: Start by creating an inviting workplace and being a great boss. Recognize that today’s spa professionals are motivated by more than money—although they like that too!
Starr: Spas have to become even more active in human resources—running employment notices, reading resumes, interviewing candidates on a continual basis, and creating more and shorter shifts. Management must fine-tune interviewing and onboarding skills so that expectations are crystal clear. Finally, compensation plans need to become more creative: Find ways to reward behaviors that also help the business.
Dubois: Employees appreciate flexible schedules and more time off. We contribute to a retirement plan for our team, and pay a higher percentage of health insurance with longevity. Continuing education is ongoing, and we offer a structured bonus system for hitting department and company goals. Additionally, make sure they know they’re appreciated—something as simple as saying, ‘You did a great job today!’ goes a long way.
Ducker: Everyone is wired a little differently. Customizing your workplace culture and recognition practices based on individual preferences and motivations can go a long way. What resonates with an extroverted personality may make a more reserved employee uncomfortable and do the opposite of what was intended.
This story first appeared in the December issue of DAYSPA Magazine. To receive the magazine, subscribe here.