Garnering media attention everywhere, the hot topic of wellness represents a booming market worth trillions of dollars worldwide. And as consumers have become increasingly informed and aware, a growing number of spa owners are jockeying to position their spas in the wellness arena either because they sense that it can help build their businesses or because the fundamental message of spa—an emphasis on mind, body and spirit that is synonymous with the major components of wellness—has always been at the heart of their operational philosophies.
Perhaps you’ve been considering guiding your spa in this direction but are a little hesitant because you’re not quite sure how to effectively communicate it to your guests. Let’s take a look at a few possibilities.
First we need to define wellness. In its entirety, it is a complete, multidimensional and holistic state in which an individual assumes responsibility for his or her personal lifestyle and health by making positive decisions in regards to social, emotional, economic, environmental, physical, and spiritual alternatives. It is not just the absence of disease.
Dr. John Travis, a wellness pioneer and founder of the first wellness establishment, The Wellness Resource Center in Mill Valley, CA in 1975, has, over the years, distilled and simplified the above to “Wellness is the loving acceptance of yourself.”
From this perspective, wellness becomes person-centric, easier to grasp and more relevant to what we can do as spas to foster an environment where men and women can find tools such as yoga, exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, massage, hydrotherapy, nutritional counseling, wellness coaching and stress management—all important facets of the wellness spectrum—to enable them to assume personal responsibility for their individual health and wellbeing.
Pampering and Wellness – Compatible?
A lot of spa professionals have weighed in on this topic. Though for many consumers the concept of Spa has been synonymous with pampering and self-indulgence. As spa professionals, we know that “pampering” has a significantly positive impact on a person’s wellbeing since the healing power of touch found in most of our treatments relieves stress and produces significant, positive physical and emotional benefits. Take massage, for instance, one of the most effective tools in the wellness arsenal and a spa mainstay.
There is a growing body of evidence-based research (check out www.spaevidence.com) demonstrating that regular massage:
- Lowers the sensation of pain in the body (body)
- Increases restorative nutrient-rich blood flow to muscles, cartilage and ligaments (body)
- Reduces the body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol (mind)
- Lowers heart rate and blood pressure and (body)
- Elevates levels of dopamine and serotonin that can help alleviate depression and anxiety (spirit)
- Lowers heart rate and blood pressure and (body)
- Strengthens the body’s immune system making it more capable of fighting illnesses (body).
It’s also one of the biggest stress busters out there! But how do you communicate that message to your guests?
Getting the Message Across
Think of the many wonderful ways you describe your treatments to your guests. Are you also describing their healthful benefits? Thanks to the Boomer generation, we’ve been concentrating lately on the anti-aging trend, using terms like “reduces fine lines and wrinkles” or “lifts and firms” or the old standby “radiant and smooth.” While these descriptors are valid, how about helping guests understand how the treatments will make them feel, not just how they will look?
It can start at the time of booking. Create a script that briefly describes what a massage, for example, does, not what it is or simply how long it takes. And, yes, we’re sliding into something of a sales pitch here, but that’s OK. Describing the benefits to body, mind, and spirit is relevant and beneficial. Carry this message through to your entire treatment menu. Take a look at the menus of wellness centers and spas like Rancho La Puerta or Miraval and get a feel for what you can do to reframe your spa’s messaging. Do some research at spaevidence.com and see what real benefits your treatments provide. If it’s difficult or too expensive to update your menu at this time, ensure that you and your staff use the language of wellness with words like healing, restorative, refreshing, embracing, or energizing when you speak with your guests.
But the most effective tool? It’s how you “walk the talk.” A warm, caring, and attentive attitude towards each and every guest that walks through your doors on the part of each and every member of your spa team ensures that Spa’s foundational precepts of finding healing in mind, body and spirit are alive and well in your operation. It encourages your guests to experience on multiple levels how much and how greatly visits to your spa contribute to their overall health and wellbeing and, perhaps most importantly, to a “loving acceptance” of themselves.
Though spas are only a part of the overall wellness equation, they are a vital source for finding energy and renewal in today’s mad, hectic world.