Spa Inc. Summer 2022

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Inspired loyalty

CANADA’S SPA CONNECTION SUMMER 2022 Publications Mail NO 40026342 $6
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spa news

Montreal welcomes a new spa and Toronto sees an iconic spa re-emerge


Aspire Conference: proof that the industry is here to stay

The concierge at a Halifax spa makes dreams come true

Buoying successful customer loyalty at Bota Bota

spa business

Attracting wellness clients to the spa

in the know

Taking the path of greater returns

science of the spa


fresh & new

that stimulate the senses

spa star

An Irish rose that helps spas bloom 3
8 14 24
18 30
Cover Photo: Alix Robinson for Spirit Urban Spa, Halifax

between us

Cultivating customer loyalty

Years ago, I worked in marketing at Canada’s Wonderland, a theme park just north of Toronto. It is there that I learned the first tenet of business success: cultivate your return customers. Right from the day it opened, park management understood that return visits were critical to business longevity. It gave birth to the season’s pass – and it must have worked. They are still a premier attraction 40 years later.

Today, as a privileged witness to Canada’s blossoming spa industry, I’ve seen Canadian spas take customer loyalty to new heights – spas like the Spirit Urban Spa in Halifax and Montreal’s Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau. As our Spa Star, Amanda O’Shea notes in this issue, you can invest in all the bells and whistles, but if you don’t invest in your staff with training and tools that support relationship building – ranging from a simple act of friendliness to the latest marketing applications and scheduling technologies, your client will abandon you. A powerful customer loyalty program distinguishes you from others. It’s your competitive advantage.

In this issue the thought leaders at Spaformation offer up the business case for customer loyalty, five industry experts share their views on how retail can support that all important client relationship, and we explore how to attract more wellness clients.

Finally, a big shout out to the organizers of this summer’s fabulous Aspire Conference. As you will read in Chris Ryall’s account of the event, it was a celebration of Canadian spa excellence and a powerful indicator that the industry has emerged from the pandemic stronger than ever.

In our fall issue, we look at how Canadian spas are doing their part to save the environment, from organic, sustainably sourced products to low carbon footprints. It makes me proud to be part of the industry.

Award Winner

ISSN 1710 -1727

Volume 18, Number 4

Publisher Susan A. Browne

Managing Editor Jana Manolakos

Copy Editor Brooke Smith

Contributors Annick Beauchemin Antonella Calandra Robert Cass Kirsten Foss Chris Ryall

Senior Account Amanda Lewis Executive 905.886.6640 ext 331

Director Stephanie Wilson of Marketing

Production Crystal Himes Manager

Art Director Charlene Everest

Published four times a year by: Dovetail Communications Inc.

President: Susan A. Browne Tel: 905.886.6640 Fax: 905.886.6615 Email:

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4 Spa Inc. | Summer 2022
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The Four Seasons Hotel Montréal recently unveiled its all-new Guerlain Spa, on the lower level of its downtown location.

“Aligning with a brand that has the same vision as ours was of the utmost importance,” explains David Wilkie, general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Montréal. “Guerlain curates every treatment in harmony with the surrounding city it resides in, and we look forward to showcasing Montréal’s unique personality with our new spa.”

Renovations were designed to create a tranquil sanctuary among the spa’s eight treatment rooms, which includes one couple’s suite. Offering body treatments, facials, and massage services, the spa has ensured every Guerlain treatment has been developed to enable personalization—whether guests are seeking anti-aging facials that promise renewed skin and immediate results, or meditative massages that reinvigorate the body and mind.

“We’re excited to welcome back familiar faces and introduce new guests to our team of talented practitioners who continuously raise the standard for exceptionally high-quality service and hospitality,” says Stephanie Cherbakow Baron, director of spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Montréal.

Consumer study hints at an optimistic outlook for the spa industry

In the spring, the International Spa Association (ISPA) Foundation released its latest consumer report titled “New Era, New Consumer,” which suggests the spa industry is well-positioned to recover from the pandemic.

The study was developed in partnership with PwCand looks at the habits, attitudes, and expectations of consumers—both those who go to spas and those who don’t—as they consider the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and their physical and mental well-being.

“Consumer attitudes, like so much else, have shifted significantly in the last two-plus years,” said ISPA president Lynne McNees. “This research provides insight into those shifts and will allow our members to make datadriven decisions for their businesses as they seek to bring the benefits of spa to more people and continue the industry’s robust recovery.”

The survey revealed that the largest portion (47%) of respondents use a hybrid approach to receiving spa services, which includes receiving some services at a spa location and supplementing those with at-home service options. The data indicates that the spa industry is wellpositioned to meet the needs of consumers. More than half (58%) of current spa-goers said they visited a spa for the first time in the past two years, and 39% said they visit the spa more often now than before the pandemic. Combined with respondents’ apparent dedication to their health and well-being (65% of spa-goers noted they will focus more on their health and well-being now), those figures suggest that the industry is in a strong position.

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Touring the top of the world in spa style, guests enjoying Arctic cruises this summer aboard Quark Expeditions’ new ship, the Ultramarine, will be pampered with InuaCare skin treatments in the on-board Tundra Spa.

“We’re so proud to offer our guests the InuaCare brand in Ultramarine’s Tundra Spa on our Arctic voyages this season,” said Thomas Lennartz, vice-president of sales for Quark Expeditions. “InuaCare— the highly respected Greenlandic skincare brand—is perfectly aligned with the sustainable ethos of Ultramarine’s Tundra Spa, which also features organic, hand-harvested seaweed treatments and beauty products from the award-winning spa

provider Voya.”

The ship’s guests will now be able to choose from a menu of spa treatments and products, as well as an exclusive facial treatment. The 55-minute Arctic facial is a regenerating and relaxing treatment using a combination of Arctic and active ingredients to slow visible signs of aging. The facial includes a deep cleanse and an exfoliating AHA mask using five different botanical extracts. It’s followed by a scalp and shoulder massage using a therapeutic extra-care balm for the ultimate relaxation of body and mind. This luxury treatment finishes with an application of an effective moisturizer tailored to the guest’s skin for ultimate hydration.

Park Hyatt Toronto reopens the Stillwater Spa after multi-year renovation

The Park Hyatt Toronto opened its Stillwater Spa in June, marking the completion of the hotel’s multi-year renovation in the city’s Yorkville neighbourhood. As one of Toronto’s most alluring wellness destinations, the reimagined Stillwater Spa now offers guests the opportunity to personalize their luxury experiences.

“Stillwater Spa is returning as a destination where guests will be nurtured and inspired, and find serenity at our urban retreat in the heart of the city,” says spa director Kerry Werner. “We’re thrilled to welcome guests in to experience a reimagined premium and sustainable approach to beauty and wellness.”

Stillwater Spa’s new bespoke services include body rituals, facials, massages, and nail services customized to each guest’s unique needs and product preferences. The spa joined forces with Aromatherapy Associates to offer guests handcrafted products that feature therapeutic essential oil blends. In addition to body treatments, all nail services feature Dazzle Dry nail care products, which are vegan and chemical free, and not tested on animals.

In collaboration with KPMG Architects and world-renowned designer Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge, the aesthetic found throughout the hotel is continued in the spa.

spa news 7


Leading Spas of Canada


8 Spa Inc. | Summer 2022

Canada’s Spa Industry on the Road to Recovery

Asurge of positive energy and long-awaited bonding permeated the Fort Garry Hotel ballroom as more than 100 spa industry professionals gathered for the opening reception of the Leading Spas of Canada (LSOC) Spa & Wellness Conference in Winnipeg in June.

The historic 1913 hotel was the ideal setting for LSOC’s own bit of history in 2022: the organization’s Silver Jubilee. After the most challenging and turbulent period to date for the spa industry, which saw LSOC membership drop to only 19 members in January 2021, there has been a meteoric rise to more than 80 members today, under LSOC chair Kathryn Gallagher.

“The conference theme was wellness and recovery, but also collaboration,” says Gallagher. “From the get-go, we emphasized the importance of working together to recover but also build back stronger. COVID-19 taught us that we can’t operate as a silo. We wanted to create strong messaging for our industry that viewing each other as competitors is no longer part of our vernacular.”


For the spa industry to be an essential profession in the public’s eyes, there needs to be guidance, relevant information, and support—especially for those living with preventable chronic and lifestyle diseases, said keynote speaker Jean-Guy de Gabriac, founder and CEO of Tip Top International and founder of the annual World Wellness Weekend (taking place in September in 140 countries).

De Gabriac recommended that spa practitioners continue their education in the areas of trigger points, reflexology, and aromatherapy, but also become wellness mentors for the one billion women who will be going through menopause in 2025. “We, as a profession, have the unique opportunity to touch lives, not just skin.”

spa conference 9


Sherina Jamal, founder and CEO of Ancient Secrets Inc., and Karen Ballou, CEO of Immunocologie, provided personal and heartfelt presentations as they discussed their cancer battles and how they overcame them with a combination of nutrition, health regimens, and emotional support. Each has developed natural skincare products that provide benefits for those affected by chronic diseases and cancer.

Educating wellness professionals, aestheticians, and therapists on how to treat clients with cancer and going through post-cancer treatments was a much talked about topic throughout the conference.

“A holistic approach has unlimited power in prevention, recovery, and transformation of mind and body,” said Jamal.


The conference began with a land acknowledgement and touching water ceremony by Elder Barb Nepinak, who shared elements of her Indigenous culture with attendees. Early risers had a

spa conference

10 Spa Inc. | Summer 2022

spa conference

chance to meditate, attend a yoga class, or complete a 5 km run through downtown Winnipeg, passing by many of the city’s attractions. Visits to Thermea Spa, Riverstone, and Ten Spa were popular activities for delegates to experience a range of aesthetic and massage treatments.

The trade show component provided an excellent opportunity for spa owners and directors, aestheticians, and massage therapists to network directly with skincare and other sparelated product suppliers. Natural, organic, chemical-free products were popular items, with many utilizing Canada’s bountiful water and land resources to produce a range of healing and restorative skincare and bath products.


Dr. Brooke Jeffy, a Phoenix-based dermatologist, and Ballou of Immunocologie gave an uplifting presentation on how the medical profession—and specifically dermatologists—are working with aestheticians and skincare specialists to develop strategies and treatments for skin wellness, including approaches for those battling cancer and chronic diseases.

Katherine Asmono, president and CEO of Eltraderm, gave an informative presentation on how to keep your employees motivated and how to inspire loyalty in them, as many spas today are struggling to retain and hire staff. Asmono highlighted the general characteristics of Gen Z, millennials, Gen X, and boomers, and how best to market and communicate with each generation.

During a panel discussion moderated by LSOC board member Pat Perdue—founder and CEO of Pat Perdue Strategy, Branding, and Influence—panellists and attendees discussed various trends. Among these was the idea that spas have become social hubs, with spa-goers seeking personal pampering and a desire to share the experiences with family or friends. Other trends include connecting with nature, the proliferation of Nordic spas, mental health, sleep therapies, more natural skincare products, partnering with local tourism authorities, holding special event nights, ways to increase immunity against disease, and touchless therapies.


The conference concluded with a gala dinner and the presentation of the 2021 Canadian Spa & Wellness Awards. It was a festive night celebrating industry luminaries with the presentation of Canada’s Top 25 Spas, Honourable Mentions, Pillar of the Community Award, Education Award, Top Destination Spa, Top Spa Partner, and Lifetime Achievement Award.

“When we work together, we all benefit and gain respect, acknowledgement, and influence as a powerful sector that makes a significant contribution to the economy,” said Gallagher. “Canada is perfectly positioned to be on the map as a spa and wellness country.” 11


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Serving happiness

At Spirit Urban Spa in Halifax, a concierge makes wishes come true and keeps clients coming back

As you enjoy your manicure, would you like a fruit basket sent to a special friend? Would you like dinner reservations made for you, while you indulge in a facial?

The staff at the Spirit Urban Spa, a luxurious downtown Halifax escape, are trained to make life easier for their clients in any way possible through a concierge service that’s based on a five-star hotel model. It’s a popular benefit favoured by the spa’s clientele—and it keeps them coming back.

For Linda Brigley, owner and operator of Spirit Urban Spa, there’s a lot to be learned from the hospitality industry. Formerly in business management, the successful “spapreneur” opened the first of her two locations in 2002; the second one, in the north end of the city, followed in 2018.

The spa caters to a diverse group of clients: busy, healthconscious, and stress management-minded individuals.

“The concierge program comes out of hospitality and the hotel model. At Spirit Urban Spa, we want to assist with anything that can make our guests’ time special and more memorable. Customers appreciate familiarity and attention to detail, and that’s what drives us. If we can take care of a reservation at their favourite restaurant that evening while they’re enjoying a massage, we’ve done our job. At our spa, we want to serve happiness.”

The idea for the program, which launched five years ago, sprang from Brigley’s role as a busy working mother with very little time for herself or life’s myriad details.

“It put a name to what we were already doing at the spa,” she says. “Our guest service people routinely offer herbal teas or healthy snacks to our clients. The program seemed like a natural extension— arranging for flowers or fruit baskets. There was no hard launch.”

It’s about the details, explains Brigley. The team will brainstorm with guests to land on the perfect experience or solution, tailored to their specific wishes. They’ll arrange for flowers to be delivered to spa guests, make recommendations for dinner in the area, handdeliver gift certificates, offer phone chargers, arrange for limo transportation, or even act as personal spa shoppers.

Today, the spa has six guest service staff in total, with three on the

floor at any given time. But this type of client perk doesn’t need to be expensive, says Brigley. “It’s really more a philosophy that any spa can apply. You don’t need to hire special staff for it. You just need to find the right people to deliver that service.”

The staff receive training for the concierge program, with emphasis placed on learning how to listen and watch for client cues. “For example, if someone rushes [into the spa] during a rainstorm, we can take care of drying those wet clothes while they enjoy a treatment. It’s looking at the whole person and how we can make life a little easier for them while they’re a guest. It’s not just about retail or treatments,” explains Brigley.

While it has been the most popular program among spa clients, the last two pandemic years have taken their toll. “We had our shutdown and things got quiet during the pandemic. The niceties of the concierge program changed, so the last two years have been a bit down.”

Undaunted, Brigley took the opportunity to renovate the spa. A rooftop deck allows guests to savour views of the harbour while enjoying a healthy lunch or snack. “We have plans to grow, but we don’t want to expand too quickly. It’s all about the people and the training of the people, making sure the quality of the service is there and the beauty of the spaces is there.”

The spa’s shop offers high-end products and complements its sales with a view to rewarding clients for their purchases and for supporting the business. For example, the summer promotion includes the choice of free products for purchases of $150 of products from the Eminence line. The spa offers gift cards, e-cards, and an informative e-newsletter with tips and discounts.

“Loyalty comes from the team we have and helping our customers achieve their skincare goals. It’s all about helping. There’s always going to be competition and the opportunity for guests to go somewhere else. We’re watching and seeing what others are doing in our industry and in hospitality. There’s been a lot of innovation happening [since the pandemic]—I guess from crisis comes innovation. We’re watching to see in what new ways people are rebuilding their business models and spaces.”

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Navigating Through the Storm

Customer Loyalty Programs at Bota Bota

C ontrary to day spas, Bota Bota’s activities are centred around thermotherapy. The Emond family, who had the innovative idea of creating a spa on a boat, believes that the benefits of the hotcold relaxation cycle shouldn’t be experienced only once or twice a year. And the spa, being positioned in Old Montréal, makes it easier for regular “passengers” to include the practice in their routine—even if it’s only one hour every week. It was therefore natural right from the beginning to nurture repeat visits from loyal customers.

Before the pandemic, an array of Loyalty Passports was offered, each customized to each member’s needs: unlimited free visits or reduced rates—for three months, six months, or one year, with or without monthly massages, etc. But, even at that time, the program was almost too popular, and sales quantities had to be limited because the spa was regularly full.

When the pandemic hit and all spas were required to close, the sale of passports was suspended and the ones that were still valid


were simply put on hold, their expiration date extended each time the facility had to close its doors. The operation also switched to a new system where reservations were now mandatory to access the water circuit, which enabled management to better control the flow of incoming guests.

As the pandemic subsided somewhat, two problems became apparent. One, wellness needs were higher than ever and were putting pressure on the reservation system and the spa’s capacity. Two, switching to mandatory reservations and limiting the number of guests on-board had greatly enhanced the customer experience, and the spa crew didn’t want to return to the way things were before.

Spa management was therefore faced with a dilemma. Do they restart the Loyalty Passports program, putting even more pressure on the facility’s capacity, at the risk of losing potential customers willing to pay full price? It’s a dilemma they’re still figuring out.

Before reopening the program, they decided to focus on optimizing their yield. They’re focusing on initiatives that can help to fill up quiet moments without putting more pressure on the spa’s busier times. Corporate passports, which can be shared among employees of a company, help to fill weekday evenings. Time-specific rebates offered to certain types of clientele—such as guests who live in the area, healthcare workers, and teachers—help fill the weekdays. But, most of all, the spa is focusing on offering the best experience possible to its passengers.

In preparation for the quieter post-summer days, Bota Bota will also re-examine its loyalty program and determine if there’s a need to create a new one. The pandemic taught the spa to reinvent itself; it also confirmed that the way things were done before might not work with today’s post-pandemic realities—and loyalty programs are part of that.

16 Spa Inc. | Summer 2022
Annick Beauchemin is the Marketing Director at Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau, a stunning waterfront property located in the heart of Old Montréal. feature
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How to Attract More Wellness Clients


While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a source of stress, fatigue, and hardship for many, one aspect of it directly had a positive impact on the spa industry: bringing the importance of both mental and physical health back to the forefront of people’s priorities.

Since 2020, there has been an undeniable consumer perception shift regarding the value of wellness. The world-at-large is more interested in it as a concept than ever before. Now, for the majority of individuals, it’s not just about their beauty outcomes, it’s about walking out of their favourite spa feeling replenished—both physically and emotionally.

As a former spa owner and current spa business coach of over 10 years, I frequently used to tell my coaching clients to steer their marketing away from orbiting around “relaxation” or “fluffy facial”type services because, before the pandemic, it was more difficult to apply value to them. Consumers wanted tangible outcomes for their skin, hair, nail, and body treatments—not promises that their aesthetician could help them feel better overall. Wellness was too vague of an outcome to prioritize dedicating a marketing budget to it.

But the game has changed. Here, I’ll outline how to attract more wellness clients into your spa business—and the steps you’ll need to take to get there.

spa business 18 Spa Inc. | Summer 2022

spa business

Why Are Value Propositions Such a Big Deal?

Before I dive into how to attract more wellness customers, I need to specify what value propositions are.

A value proposition is simply a promise of value that’s to be communicated and delivered to the consumer. It tells a customer the No. 1 reason why a product or service is best suited for them particularly—ideally, in one succinct sentence.

Value propositions are crucial because they’re what both your in-spa conversations and your spa marketing need to revolve around. Your promise about who you serve, how you serve, and why you serve it is the core reason why your target demographic will choose to book and buy from you. If they don’t clearly understand right away who you are, what you do, and why you do it, they’ll move on to your competitors.

Before you invest in your spa marketing any further, if you’re trying to attract more wellness clients into your business, you must ensure your value proposition and marketing images speak to this new focus and are visible on your website homepage (ideally at the top of the page, where consumers can see it ASAP), social media bios, and any other content marketing bios. After nearly three years of a pandemic that took a sizable toll on spa bookings and sales around the globe, it’s even more important that consumers landing on your website or social media know why your spa should be their first choice for their wellness needs.

Common Marketing Mistakes Cost Your Spa Wellness Clients

Speaking of your website, the most common marketing mistakes I see that are costing spas money boil down to one item: copywriting.

Some spa owners write their own marketing copy and simply don’t know how to connect the dots of what they know in their heads (e.g., their spa promises or values) and how to write it in a way that clicks with what their consumers want. On most spa websites, I see vague promises, vague service descriptions, and vague About Me copy. And what I know for sure about spa marketing is that vague copy and vague

communication net one thing: vague bookings and sales.

This most commonly happens because spa owners haven’t taken the time to really get into their ideal clients’ heads and understand their exact pain points. Think of it like method acting: step into your consumers’ shoes and understand who they are, how they’re feeling deep down, what’s possible, and why they would choose you as their provider for wellness-centric services.

In the spa industry, we’re actually pretty good at empathizing with our clients when we work with them: we hear their disappointments, see their struggles, and understand the physical and emotional implications of their experiences. This means, we have a plethora of examples of what clients are experiencing and can share those stories (anonymously, of course) with others.

Seven Steps to Attract More Wellness Clients

Now that you know the importance of your two marketing foundations—your value proposition and your marketing copy—it’s time to relay the seven action steps guaranteed to net you more wellness clients.

Any time you want to attract new clientele into your business, reassess if your marketing strategy and copy are speaking to those customers. Create a new strategy and copy that will directly connect with clients’ pain points, self-talk, and common frustrations. Don’t reuse old copy and hope it translates.

When launching a new spa offer— especially one that takes six months or longer to really get going—reinvest in your marketing. Why? Because whatever you focus on grows. Both consumer interest and bookings will drop off if marketing this new offer isn’t at the forefront. This isn’t just a flash-in-the-pan success; you want this to be a long-lasting revenue stream for your business. 19
Step into your consumers’ shoes and understand who they are, how they’re feeling deep down, what’s possible, and why they would choose you as their provider for wellness-centric services.

spa business

Reassess what your spa marketing has previously focused on. If you’re a full-service spa, for example, and have a wide variety of services that are equally popular, you’ve likely been attracting new clients by using video and service descriptions to drive traffic to said treatments. Will these tactics carry over to your wellness audience, or will you need to make a hard switch in your email or social media marketing? Have you already focused on wellness in your content marketing, or do you need to switch the majority of your blog posts to it?

Dig into the psychology of your ideal consumers. If you’re ready to add more wellness treatments to your menu and want the most successful outcomes possible (as in, more bookings, please!), then dig into the pain points of your wellness clients to get to know their needs. This can be done by including mental and physical health questions about current stress levels, sleep habits, or nutrition, for example, on your new client intake form. For existing customers, check in with them verbally when they’re in your spa. For spas that don’t already have a wellness treatment underway, this is also a great way to check your consumers’ level of interest.

Get your team 100% clear on your wellness treatments and benefits. Ideally, have a script for them to follow so that they clearly and consistently convey your value proposition. (During my time as a coach, I’ve lost track of how many spa teams didn’t receive any training or even have a team meeting to walk them through a new service. This typically resulted in a loss of customers when staff shrugged at simple questions about the offer.)

Start elevating your client experience with more nurturing actions. This can include setting an intention for the energy and tone of their services, allowing clients to choose an essential oil they resonate with, providing five-minute guided meditations as a complimentary service add-on, or engaging in active listening throughout the treatments.

Curate and nurture relationships with wellness professionals in your area. You never know what you could learn or collaborate on.

More Wellness Clients Are in Your Spa’s Future

While shifting your spa’s value proposition and overall marketing strategy to incorporate wellness is a mustdo in today’s climate, know that it will take time and commitment to see your wellness service bookings build…just like when you first opened the doors to your spa!

Use the seven action steps to start your journey to attracting more wellness clients.

Kirsten Foss is the Founder and President of Kirstin Foss Consulting. With a combined 30 years as an aesthetician, spa owner, mentor and leader, Foss helps spas overcome their sales and profit challenges through her deep understanding of the issues and frustrations faced by spa and salon owners in their businesses.

20 Spa Inc. | Summer 2022

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Taking the Path of Greater Returns


Loyalty programs are a common business practice in different industries, including in the spa, beauty, and wellness space.

The two basic intentions are to use the program as an attraction to become a customer or as a reward for being a customer, and thus remain loyal to the business. Typically, rewards grow over time and are based on a certain set of criteria, usually purchase volume, to keep the guest purchasing from the business.

Loyalty programs can be an invaluable asset to your spa business. Whether offering membership perks, points, or products, these programs can contribute significantly to your spa’s annual sales.

Grow Your Business

There are only three fundamental ways to grow any spa business. Get new guests, get them to spend more when they come, and get them to come more often. A healthy spa business generally has 80% repeat and 20% new guests.

The truth is, many spa owners lean toward investing most of their marketing dollars and efforts on reaching new clients. Yes, new business is relevant; however, more than 80% to 85% of the revenue a typical spa business generates comes from existing guests, with only 15% to 20% coming from new guests. Most often, the investment in loyalty programs represents only 5% or less of a spa’s marketing budget.

Why, then, aren’t we focusing more on the clients who are already in front of us? We have the unique opportunity to enhance emotional engagement with each client throughout several personalized touchpoints during their spa visits. Did you know that 70% of emotionally engaged customers spend two times more on the brand they’re loyal to?

Your business stands to collect a healthy ROI on this minimal investment. A loyal client’s average spend is 67% higher than that of a new client.

In addition, the cost to retain a guest versus attracting a new one is three to 10 times less expensive.

Why do good loyalty programs work? They’re so commonplace

in all types of businesses: coffee shops to credit cards, to office supplies. Consumers are looking for “value” in their ongoing relationships with the businesses where they spend money.

There’s also the basic law of social psychology referred to as reciprocity. It means, in social situations, we tend to pay back what we receive from others. So, when you provide discounts, value-adds, free items, or opportunities, your guests will be inclined to “pay you back” (i.e., return the favour).

Every single credit card company offers something and, in fact, is a major contributor to the customer’s decision-making process. You’ve likely seen that in your own life. What kind of points can you earn, and what can you get for them?

If the public is spending money at a spa, any spa, why wouldn’t they look for one that has an established program in place that rewards them for spending more, coming more often, or even providing referrals?


When we evaluated successful spa loyalty programs, we found five common elements throughout.

Be Guest First-focused Programs with long-term success have the guest in mind. What kind of options and benefits will they enjoy? Will it matter to them that they’re accumulating benefits? Free services, upgrades, or products, or discounts on services and products?

And keep it interesting. Keep introducing new and different ways guests can be rewarded. It may be early access to new services or products. It may be special offers for limited times that are exclusive to loyalty members, or an elite level of members based on their spending habits.

This may also include level-based rewards, where guests achieve elevated levels within the program based on how much they spend. The more they spend, the more they get.

in the know 24 Spa Inc. | Summer 2022

in the know

Be Financially Responsible

We see many programs abandoned or changed, with some negative impact, because the owner didn’t project what the program might cost and if it’s sustainable. Investing back into your loyal guests has a simple financial element. What can you afford to spend if they all use the program? And assume most will.

Most times, the program will invest 1% to 2% back to the customer, based upon a typical 10% to 15% profit margin for the business. Remember, that 1% to 2% is not on every dollar spent in the business.

Be Easy to Understand

Do your guests understand “what’s in it for them”? Can they simply refer to a document or a website where they can see what they need to do to earn the reward, what they’ll get, and how they’ll get it?

This also goes for your team. Can they—in simple, plain, and efficient language—explain to any guest why they would want to be part of the program and how they can participate?

One example of an easy-to-understand program is earning a point per dollar spent. The guest can then redeem their points for a selection of items where you’ve applied a value of points to each. This can be for services or retail. Retail is often overlooked

in spa loyalty programs but is often considered valuable by guests. They can use the product or give it away as a gift. They consider receiving a “free” item, that they’d usually spend money on, a true reward.

Be Easy to Redeem

Can guests redeem their rewards easily and without fuss? We’ve all been part of a loyalty program where it seems great until we want to redeem our rewards. Then there are all kinds of rules or restrictions that make it much less appealing. Airlines used to be notorious for this: limited seats, flying only certain days and times, having extra costs built in. It caused airplane travellers to simply think more about the price of the flight rather than the airline or the benefits they received. Thankfully, many airlines have seen the error in this and have adopted a much more flexible program where travellers can redeem for any open seat.

This has also resulted in airline loyalty programs allowing travellers more price flexibility. In fact, many airlines now give options whereby you earn more “points” when you pay a higher price for the flight. If those doing the math for the airlines are smart—and we trust they are—they’ll earn far more for the increased price of the ticket than the cost of the loyalty reward. This emphasizes how powerful loyalty programs can be in influencing buyer decisions.

Be Measurable

Is the program measurable for you and your guests? No spa owner or operator wants more administration. Make no mistake, there is work here, but the best programs are ones you can track without human intervention. Many software programs now feature loyalty programs that are measured, tracked, and redeemed within the system.

Next-level tech is where guests can check on their loyalty status with the use of an app or website. This is most common for franchises or multi-unit operators, but it’s being adopted by more software programs as time goes by. Check out if yours already does.

In the end, the greatest strategy your spa business can employ to retain your guests, and build loyalty, is to consistently provide great service. If you can provide better service than all your competitors, you’ll always win. However, employing a loyalty program that shows you appreciate your guests and are grateful for their business helps them make the decision to stay with you and not even try a competitor.

Over time, this critical strategy will help to maintain, and grow, a committed group of loyal followers. 25
Your business
stands to collect a healthy ROI on this minimal investment. A loyal client’s average spend is
67% higher
than that of a new
Robert Cass is the Co-Founder of Spaformation, a spa, salon and wellness consultancy. Antonella Calandra is a consultant at Spaformation with expertise in helping businesses grow.

Get your clients excited with revved-up retail

How can spa operators perk up their client loyalty through retail programs? We asked five experts.

Paula Veenema

Paula Veenema has 20 years of experience in the beauty industry, including as a former Board Member and current President of PureStemBeauty Inc., the distributor for Endota Canada. Veenema is committed to bringing excellence and consciousness to the beauty industry through her role as a distributor of conscious beauty brands, and continues to offer her support as a mentor with the Women’s Enterprise Centre assisting female entrepreneurs.

Retail sales are essential for spa businesses to thrive. The revenue from treatments alone is simply not enough to balance the books. The retail area provides the first impression upon entering the spa. Impeccable merchandising, fully stocked clean shelves, and attention to detail convey a critical message to your customers: that not only the products you sell, but the rest of your spa facility is serious about high standards in all areas. Try offering a customized approach to your retail loyalty program. Make it about getting free products, rather than discounts on future purchases, since the only cost to your business is the wholesale price of the product, but the perceived value is twice as much.

Show clients you’re paying attention to what they buy. Determine a purchasing threshold for clients that warrants a giveaway. Once met, offer a favourite item they’ve repeatedly bought, as a gift. Or gift them a product that complements their current regimen to help them boost their results. A loyalty program is about nurturing an emotional connection with your business, and customers will continue to come to you when they feel welcomed and genuinely cared for by both front-end and service staff, and are recognized for their ongoing support of your business.

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr is a Mindbody Certified Business Consultant and the Principal of Wynne Business Consulting & Education, which specializes in spa, wellness, and salon businesses and brands. She has over 35 years of experience in the beauty and wellness industry, spending the last 22 as a consultant and educator helping wellness businesses optimize their operations while providing exceptional experiences for their guests.

Spas and wellness businesses provide services and experiences that can have a tremendous impact on a client in the hour or two they spend there. But what happens in the rest of the hours per

month that the client is not in the spa? Ensuring the client departs with at least a couple of products that can help them to continue on their wellness journey outside of the spa will support their personal care routine as well as serve as a stepping stone to better results with each visit. Plus, you must consider, when the client uses your product every day, that provides a subtle and pleasant reminder of their connection with your business.

Consumers are purchasing personal care products with regularity; in America alone, over $93 billion was spent in 2020, according to market research firm Statista. If they’re procuring those products on a visit to your spa, that’s one less stop or online purchase they need to make, which, in turn, is less opportunity for another retailer or supplier to lure them away with the discovery of new and different products. If they’re forced to go elsewhere to find the products they need, you also risk losing their service business to the new entity.

When you’re identifying potential retail resource partners, finding vendors whose products are not already offered at numerous locations that compete with yours should be a part of the equation. As a consumer, you probably purchase milk from wherever it’s convenient, rather than trekking to the same place every time; this illustrates that availability plays a factor in bringing the clients back to a bricks-and-mortar location. To make it even more convenient for your clients, you can provide shipping or delivery options, or even create a subscription program, where desired products just seamlessly arrive at their doorstep at an agreed-upon interval.

If your business offers a loyalty program for tracking behaviours and purchases, retail should certainly be incorporated into the program. By awarding an array of points for different behaviours, you can drive sales to a particular product, category, or vendor, and provide encouragement to the consumer to consolidate their purchases within one business: yours.

Pat Perdue

As Founder and CEO of Pat Perdue Strategy, Branding, and Influence, Pat Perdue has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, FCB Advertising, FashionTV, and Bravo Television.

Perdue is a Sponsor and Advisor to the Board of Directors of Leading Spas of Canada, and also works with a variety of spas and spa industry thought leaders globally. His podcast, “Pat Perdue’s Customer Experience Podcast,” is among the top most respected podcasts on customer experience.

There are many factors that contribute to client loyalty. Some

science of the spa 26 Spa Inc. | Summer 2022

science of the spa

are easily predicted, such as trust in a specific attendant, and others are less well understood. As a branding consultant with a focus on client experience, understanding what impacts loyalty is a key part of my business.

The availability of retail products contributes heavily to client loyalty. Clients not only purchase products that were used on them during their treatments to “replicate” (as closely as possible) the experience they had at their spa, they also love to share that experience with friends and loved ones. Many spas have covert “brand ambassadors” they aren’t aware of. Gifting products purchased from a favourite spa empowers clients to share their spa experience as a self-appointed brand ambassador.

Good packaging, and impeccable messaging that clearly communicates the spa’s unique mission, further allows “secret” ambassadors to evangelize the spa’s larger purpose. By gifting retail products, spa ambassadors “spread” loyalty to future clients who’ve never even been to the spa. (For more of this phenomenon, read about “mavens” in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell). Spas that understand who these ambassadors are, and reward them with further perks, are able to nurture an extensive in-field sales force.

Vivienne O’Keeffe

Vivienne O’Keeffe, CIBTAC, AAD, PEA, is President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., and an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She is an international consultant in developing product lines, treatment plans, and training programs; a member of ISPA; and a recipient of the Spa Industry Association of Canada Outstanding Industry Service Award in 2001, 2005, and 2012. For more, go to

For products to increase the loyalty of your customers, you need to keep two factors in mind. First, consumers are looking for results. If your product line is effective and delivers results, this will build trust and your professional image in the consumer’s mind. Every time a consumer looks at a product they purchased from you, they’ll be reminded of their experience at your facility. Second, when you select a brand, make sure it’s a professional brand that’s loyal to the professional skincare market. This ensures consumers cannot buy directly from the manufacturer. Consumers will only be able to buy the brand product from professional facilities, where they will receive proper advice on its use, helping you to build repeat sales and loyalty.

As we saw in the past two pandemic years, a solid retail business is essential for survival. Making professional skincare recommendations during or post treatment, suggesting a product, and educating the customer on the best way to use it increases customer loyalty much further than an online connection. Follow up with your clients to ensure they’re using the product consistently and benefiting. Offering a program of seasonal skincare assessment—along with instructions for modifying product use at home; for example, during colder weather—is an invaluable tool. It allows you to authentically reconnect in a personal way—with a phone call, text, or email—to check on progress.

Holly Anderson

Holly Anderson is Managing Director of Elite Beauty Management Inc. the exclusive PRO distributor for Sorella Apothecary in Canada. Holly’s passion for the products she works with, coupled with her Diploma in Esthetician and Spa Management (Humber College, 2008), are the reasons why she has been so successful with creating brand awareness and a loyal clientele throughout her career. Holly is a mental health advocate, Mama, dog and coffee lover.

Retailing is one of the most important aspects of our industry. Your clients are coming to you for a reason: you are the expert.

Investigate and ask questions to find out your clients’ skin concerns. Whether they have made the investment and are seeing you for a treatment, series of treatments or have simply popped by to see what’s new; it’s important to remember that you are an educational resource who is there to listen and help guide them. Set expectations – there is tremendous value to investing in highquality homecare products which are designed to maintain results and help them reach their skin goals. When you believe in and are passionate about what you’re recommending to your clients it transcends to trust. With trust, comes loyalty. The relationship you have with your clients is what truly sets you and your business apart from the rest!

A few ideas to keep in mind when leveraging your retail

BRAND AMBASSADORS Your clients are your best brand ambassadors. By giving products from a favourite spa as gifts to their friends and family, they spread the word of your business.

EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS Loyalty programs nurture an emotional connection with your business. Repeat visits come from clients who are made to feel welcomed, genuinely cared for, and recognized for their support of your spa.

SOLID RETAIL PARTNERSHIPS When identifying potential retail resource partners, finding vendors whose products are not already offered at numerous locations that compete with yours should be a part of the equation.

BUILDING TRUST Ensure your product line is effective and delivers results, builds trust, and supports your professional image in the consumer’s mind.

LITTLE THINGS COUNT Follow up with your clients by phone or text to check in on their progress when they’ve taken a product home. 27

Distributed in Canada by DermaSpark Products Inc. | 1-866-237-0849 |


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Travelling the world opened Amanda O’Shea’s eyes to the infinite possibilities that lay in the spa industry. It eventually led her to the height of professional success at the Spa St. Regis in Toronto, and recently to a job as a customer success manager at Book4Time, a global leader in integrated business platforms for spas and other industries.

How did you end up in the world of aesthetics?

I was born in County Clare, Ireland, but travelled the world with Princess Cruise Lines, providing on-board massage. I learned a lot about business and sales and teamwork, and tailoring treatments to clients from all around the world. I joined the St. Regis Spa in 2017 and recently landed at Book4Time.

Can you share a professional highlight during your time at the spa at the St. Regis Hotel, which emerged after the Marriott chain took over the Trump Tower Hotel in Toronto in 2017?

I’m proud of the leadership awards that I received and the financial goals that we exceeded, and the fact that, during the transition, we fought really hard to get the renovation we got. But, at the end of the day, it was all about the team. We went through a lot together. It’s not easy to do a pre-opening for any hotel or any spa. There are a lot of balls in the air. To the team’s credit, the spa recently received a top-notch four-star rating from Forbes.

How did you find the leap from the B2C world of the St. Regis to the B2B environment at Book4Time?

At the St. Regis, we had been working with Book4Time management software. I was impressed by their representatives, who would regularly reach out to learn about our operation and our products. When I returned from maternity leave in 2021, Book4Time offered me a position. It has been a very positive

spa star

transition, as I bring my spa operations experience to the table. And I’m learning a lot. I get to speak to luxury spas around the world every day and learn how they’re running their businesses, which is also really interesting.

What makes the St. Regis stand out?

The St. Regis is the epitome of luxury service. But, more than that, it’s the team there. The team do everything in their power to surprise and delight their guests and create memorable experiences. I think that’s what makes the St. Regis stand out more than how it looks, or the products or amenities it has. As much as you can have excellent treatments and products, at the end of the day, without a good team that supports relationships with clients, your customer loyalty can suffer.

How can a loyalty program enhance your brand?

A loyalty program is not going to do anything for you if you’re not creating that genuine care around your customers. It’s not going to attract customers if you’re not providing an experience that makes them want to stay, no matter how attractive the offering is. Clients want a spa where staff already know their preferences. You can have the best of everything, but if your service isn’t better than the spa down the road, and you’re not picking up on the small things your customer tells you, then you’re not going to keep that guest.

How important is it to keep up to date with evolving client preferences?

Our customers’ needs and wants change all the time. In order to be successful, you have to be able to pivot quickly to meet those changing consumer demands. You need to consistently check in with guests and get those insights, or you risk losing them. That’s where software like Book4Time can help. These types of platforms easily generate reports that can give you a sense of what’s going on in your business. We’ve seen huge success among spas taking that leap into technology because the reports allow them to make educated decisions.

Is it expensive to introduce a loyalty program?

It depends on how you’re setting up your loyalty program. Most companies or businesses are going digital now, so the average cost has dropped dramatically. You’re no longer printing cards, incurring mail, or spending time tracking the results. Going digital with your loyalty program allows for more engagement with your customers and offers your business more insight into their spending habits or their favourite products for treatments.

If you have a lot of repeat business and you’re looking to reward those customers, it’s probably not going to cost you very much to run a loyalty program because you might not have to market it that much. So, putting it on your social media or sending an email out to your customers might be enough. But if you’re using a loyalty program to try to attract new business, then, obviously, the cost is going to increase dramatically—because it can be quite expensive to attract new customers.

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