Reviewing our spa trend prediction for 2010, “The Online Spa,” I think it is pretty clear that this did in fact happen during an unprecidented year of advancements and adoption of everything virtual. If anything, I would say there have been some things that became big news in the tech world this year that we didn’t mention. More on that in a bit.
Spa Trend #4: The Online Spa
2010 will prove a watershed year for the spa’s virtual presence. Consumers are already finding spas online, booking treatments, joining online weight loss and coaching groups. They are printing out instant gift certificates, shopping virtual spa stores, being influenced by online reviews, and embracing social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. (Some even play the Sally Spa game (http://sallysspa-game.com/). But there’s more to come.
Get ready for gaming while you exercise, for having health information (like your blood pressure and heart rate) automatically uploaded for access online by your spa or doctor, and for spas to use yield management software that (much like the airlines) enables price variation, so spas can offer a less expensive massage on weekday mornings, compared to Saturday afternoons. And in early 2010, you’ll be able to stroll down any street in the U.S. and check your iPhone to pinpoint the spa nearest you, thanks to the upcoming SpaFinder App.
Sure, the Internet’s been around roughly 15 years, but there’s always that breakthrough year when online really clicks for each industry, and 2010 looks to be the defining one for spa adoption of Internet and social media marketing, along with new cutting-edge spa apps. It’s all being driven by global consumer behavior—the Web is simply where they “live” now. And these consumers expect instant information on spa services and offers, and even instant gratification with 24/7 reservations.
A recent SpaFinder survey reveals that 76 percent of spas are already selling gift certificates online, and an additional 8 percent have plans to. Thirty-three percent have embraced online, real-time appointment booking, and 21 percent plan to. Thirty-two percent currently sell online retail products, and 27 percent plan to. And spas are jumping into new social media platforms to connect with clients, albeit with a significant preference for Facebook over Twitter: Fifty-five percent of spas are now using Facebook (another 17 percent plan to), while 32 percent are using Twitter to get their deals out, and 19 percent plan to. (A more modest 29 percent currently use/plan to use mobile marketing.)
And with the explosion of online review and booking sites (i.e., Citysearch and Yelp in the U.S., Booking.com in Europe, SpaFinder.com globally), consumers are increasingly selecting spas based on what real-world consumers say online. Thankfully, spas are beginning to pay attention to their online reputations: Sixty-one percent now encourage their clients to write online reviews, and another 14 percent plan to.
In general, the way spas virtually connect with consumers is getting far, far more creative. But, while it seems you can almost “spa online” these days, there’s still nothing that can (or will) replace human touch. Spa, in fact, may be the ultimate countertrend to the world’s online virtual mania.
Since SpaFinder is on the cutting edge of technology, I am not surprised that we were quite accurate with our predictions regarding spas and cyberspace. (Ok, maybe the Sally Spa Game didn’t quite hit the big time…) However, one big thing that we didn’t mention in our trend prediction was the Ipad. Furthermore, I think that mobile became more important than I mentioned in our write-up. Being an iPad user myself, I can now see what a great tool it is for reading online and enjoying beautiful photography, all while staying connected. That is all a huge plus for spas and consumers.
Mobile has been on the trend radar for quite some time, and everyone predicted that it would be huge. However there has been a lag in companies creating mobile websites; it isn’t just a matter of taking what you have online now, flipping a switch, and having it work for mobile. You basically have to build your site all over again – and that is costly and time consuming. Nevertheless, SpaFinder has recently taken the plunge and I can see now that the idea of life becoming almost completely mobile is beginning to look plausible.
I think I am going to give an A for this spa trend prediction. And I won’t penalize myself for not trumpeting the Ipad. Hey, no one can keep up with everything going on in technology these days!
My twitter address: @susieellis