Sold on Spas

28th June 2009 (Last Updated June 28th, 2009 18:30)

EHMA president Johanna Fragano found new inspiration for profit-making at the Cosmoprof Spa conference in Bologna.

Sold on Spas

When, on my return to the office after our inspirational Seville General Assembly, I was wondering what other actions could be taken to prepare our hotels for a better tomorrow, I received an invitation to attend the Cosmoprof Spa Bologna.

Here was an opportunity to do something truly proactive, because Cosmoprof offers the most qualified professionals in the hotel sector the chance to take part in a conference and events programme with the leading international protagonists of the spa industry with the common aim of interpreting market demand to discover the latest trends.

Not knowing what to expect, I was amazed at the curiosity, ideas and informality of the fair, all in an enthusiastic and positive climate – no mean feat at a time like the present. The Cosmoprof Spa symposium, the main attraction from my point of view, was a two-day exchange about how to reposition the concept of spa and aesthetics in Europe and about the future development of trends in four and five-star hotels so as to develop profit-oriented business.

The challenge of the European hotel industry is to see onsite spas as a profit centre. Today’s hotels are often designed with such a facility but management fails to use it to their full advantage.

“The challenge of the European hotel industry is to see onsite spas as a profit centre.”

Our objective should be to build a solid spa enterprise, from concept to design, meeting guest expectations and using eco-friendly materials and furnishing, planning for recyclability and waste reduction, focusing on customer satisfaction, client retention and return on investment while enhancing our clients’ experience.

Today’s spa goers require ethical practices with emphasis on simple pleasures. In a frantic world people search for serenity, and a professional spa therapist can fulfil this quest while delivering a treatment.

To gain profit, a strategic custom-made evaluation of our competitors must be carried out, as well as a socio-economic evaluation of our target market: leisure, groups, business and local residents. More attention should be paid to their expectations now that times are tight and customers are getting harder to find, but the pressure is still on to produce positive financial success.

We have to ask ourselves whether the present economic situation has created incompatible dreams or whether there are still options to create solutions for the future. The credit crunch has forced us to look at new ways to generate better results.

We need to innovate to get more business and to think laterally. Our business must explore new avenues for success in the current climate; mindsets need to shift and thinking must climb a little outside the box.

A truly productive spa needs to be a legendary, quality experience. Needless to say, the economic risks have to be well evaluated and the treatment menu and training need to be reviewed and updated regularly.

The more I learned, the more I realised that we were facing one of the most discussed topics of the moment, and that individual hotel concepts would do well to prepare for potential demands, whether for luxury pampering or investment in good health.

At Cosmoprof we were given the opportunity to observe the attitude of design as a behaviour rather than as an added value benefit. In a changing market, brands get lost in translation while the design world looks for distinct identities.

A designer is an observer with the talent to analyse consumer behaviour and basic needs and then to translate them into objects and desires. A successful design creates and increases consumer loyalty and commands a premium based on emotional connection.

“In this day and age, to have a spa has become a must for any four or five-star destination.”

At the elegant dinner we had the pleasure of meeting architect and professor Simone Micheli, who spoke to us about the design company he founded in 2003. His works of architecture, interior design, graphics and communication are strictly linked to the world of sensorial glorification.

He takes care of experimental events for some of the most qualified international fairs and exhibits his projects at the most significant global architecture and design events. Micheli kindly shared with us his thoughts on the present and future of the spa concept through the presentation of his new project, the largest wellness centre in Europe in Livigno, Italy.

He covered several other fascinating projects and amazed us with his suggestions about functionality, sustainability, ethics, uniqueness, dreams and the vision of an experience which, once it becomes a memory, can determine resounding fields of commercial power.

We left the fair even more convinced that in this day and age, to have a spa has become a must for any four or five-star destination. Spas can have an impact on people, planet and profit by creating a sustainable enterprise that goes much deeper than the surface.

The strategy is to ensure that the business is appropriately met with efficient and effective design, and is sustainable in nature. Branding, site selection, vendor partnerships, building design and operations are all needed to create a sustainable business and facility.

Anyone interested in the future development of spa trends in hotels would do well to visit this exceptionally well-organised event, which left us all with a note of enthusiasm and positive thinking.