Spa Business Issue 4 2015 Digital Edition

Page 46


Everyone’s talking about

Customised treatments More spas are offering bespoke treatments, but how can brands protect quality without standard operating procedures? And at what point do you let a therapist freestyle? Katie Barnes asks the industry

Bulgari Spa: it’s not easy to offer customised treatments, but it’s worth it


greater need for differentiation in the market and consumers demanding more effective results from their spa experience has led to a growing trend in personalised therapies in the global spa industry. At the start of their customised journey, clients are asked to identify skincare concerns or particular parts of the body they’d like their therapist to focus on – or simply how they’d like to feel after their treatment: relaxed, balanced or re-energised. The extent to which facilities take this bespoke approach differs. Some might simply offer variations of a set treatment, such as switching a calming lavender essential oil for a zesty, awakening one depending on the client’s needs. Or they might allow guests to mix and match 46 issue 4 2015


services on the menu. While others go the whole hog – blocking out a set time and letting therapists work their magic for a truly tailor-made experience. It’s a great idea. Who wouldn’t want a personalised approach? After all, scripted, robotic treatments, where it feels as if the therapist is simply going through the motions, are far from appealing. But at what point should spa operators decide to let their employees freestyle? Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are put in place for quality control, consistency and safety purposes – especially when spa brands operate in multiple locations around the world. Start changing them and you risk upsetting loyal customers who like what they know, or administering a substandard service or, at worse, injuring people.

There are other operational considerations too. If a therapist gets over-zealous with product, customisation becomes a cost-control problem. Plus, given that it’s difficult to find good quality therapists, it’s likely that employees will need days, weeks or even months of extra training before they’re given free reign. So while it sounds good on paper – especially the marketing collateral kind – do the benefits of offering customised treatments outweigh the practical challenges? We canvass industry opinion. Katie Barnes is the managing editor of Spa Business magazine Email: katiebarnes@ Twitter: @SpaBusinessKB

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