Learning from Resort Spas

Resort spas go to great lengths to create a vacation experience. What can fitness centers learn from them?

From the moment your members walk into your fitness center spa, you have the opportunity to make their experience one of the most memorable a fitness facility can offer -- maybe even reminiscent of their last vacation. Resort spas go to great lengths to create a "peak" vacation experience. What can fitness centers learn from them?

Resort spa facilities are distinct in mood and environment from the rest of the resort. Special touches like high-end finishes, plush robes, extra large towels and overstuffed lounge furnishings are common. Staff members are often highly trained not just in their technical specialty, but also in guest relations. Many of these things are also being done at the finest commercial fitness facilities. But, fitness centers have some advantages over resorts in the spa arena. Read on to find out how to make the most of your fitness center spa.

Greet customers by name

Unlike most fitness workouts, all spa services are scheduled in advance. Consequently, it is not only possible to greet people by name, but your staff can warmly welcome even those they've never met before. Imagine the effect on a new spa-goer when he enters the spa and hears, "Hello. You must be Robert Johnson. I'm Karen. Welcome to the spa. I understand this is your first visit with us." What a powerful first impression. And since Robert has an appointment, your staff member can continue with, "Susie will be your massage therapist, and she's expecting you."

Here's the advantage that fitness center spas have over resorts: Unlike the resort spa, the fitness center spa can reasonably expect that, if Mr. Johnson has a good experience, he'll become a regular patron, and quite likely refer his friends.

Customize spa visits

For repeat spa customers, keep a record of pertinent medical facts, and their history with the spa. List what services they have had, and what they may or may not like during treatments (favorite music, favorite scent, problem areas that may need special attention, etc.). If you know patrons' favorite music, aroma, etc., you can prepare rooms before their arrival.

If the member is new to the spa, the information collection process will take a few minutes, but it need not be an interrogation, and can be a friendly and supportive process. If these records are updated with each service, your staff will have all the necessary information to make the spa experience more personal.

Build relationships

In contrast to resorts, fitness centers have long-term relationships with their patrons. Resort spas have just a few days with each client. With a regular customer, you have the opportunity to sell new services at a pace that is appropriate for them. This is especially true for spa neophytes who may be getting their first spa services from you. After they are comfortable with basic massage, for example, their trusted therapist can suggest aromatherapy, a wrap, exfoliation or a free skin analysis from the esthetician. In this manner, their patronage of the spa can be reinforced over time.

Having a relationship with a spa-goer also encourages customization of spa services.Suppose a therapist learns that a particular client has had an especially memorable spa experience during a recent resort vacation. A few questions can quickly determine if key aspects of that experience can be replicated. Perhaps a wrap or body treatment already on the menu can be modified in some way. Maybe a special order essential oil can customize the spa's normal aromatherapy massage to that client's personal tastes. A perceptive therapist might even think to name this modified treatment "Robert's Treat," or some other name that solidifies the client's connection to the experience.

Although few fitness centers can offer the spectacular scenery, exotic culture or tropical climate of many resort spas, there are ample opportunities to learn from and improve upon the resort spa experience.
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