An informative, networking day at the annual Cosmoprof Asia Spa Conference (12 November) started off this year with Michael Duck introducing the event. “This is a place to feel and see trends, to meet old friends and new too,” he said. “This year we are pleased to invite 15 high calibre spa leaders with in-depth experience and expertise to talk about a wide range of topics. This is a great opportunity to learn from them.”
The event was MC-ed by the inimitable Melinda Yon, Senior Lecturer at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, whose expertise in the industry brought out the best in insights from the numerous panelists.
Jeremy McCarthy, Director of Spa for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group started the day off with Psychology of Spa. “Being happy and feeling well go hand in hand. Happy people have better physical and mental health, use their minds better, are more successful and earn more money. When we make people feel good they become resistant to stress. We are recharging their force field and sending them out into the world immune to stress.”
Following this there was a panel discussion on Spa in China with Johnny Chang of Spa Solutions, Sara Codner of Spa Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou and Lily Tan spa specialist. “Last year the output of China’s spa industry fetched about 150 billion USD,” said Johnny Chang. “That’s a 15 per cent growth from 2013.” Adding, that results-driven treatments are still king, saying, “Chinese take everything instant but their coffee!” Sara added that educating their customers into the holistic ESPA way of spa’ing has taken around three years. “Initially a spa visit was about our luxury brand but now it is about the customer experience. They are not just looking for a treatment and leaving, they are looking for mental, emotional and spiritual experience too.” All agreed that the nation-wide lack of qualified staff in hospitality and lack of standards as a whole hampers the industry.
Lee David Stephens did a presentation The Evolution of Man (in Spas) uncovering the various kinds of man who like to frequent spas and what they want. He mentioned male grooming as continuing to boom. Men may spend a smaller amount of money on their grooming than women, but will go more often to the barber. They will only occasionally go to a spa but mostly when accompanying their partner or on vacation, only a few will consider a facial or pedicure, and many use physical exercise rather than a spa visit as a way to distress. He finished by telling spa owners to make their spa menus sound more aggressive in order to appeal to the male spa-goer.
The afternoon discussed How to Incorporate Medi-spas into your spa by Dr Christopher Tay, CEO The DRx Group in Singapore. He described the medi-spas as the ultimate results-driven kind of spa, with a customer base that is getting younger and focusing on early prevention via non-surgical procedures requiring minimum downtime and less invasive treatments too. Botox, Thermage, chemical peels, fillers, Ulthera and HiFu (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) are popular. Men are also joining the fray, the younger generations happy to admit they care about their looks with Botox, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal and trichotherapy top of their lists. Spas who offer medi treatments to consumers must invest a considerable amount in staff, equipment, liability and insurance and marketing but can maximise their ROI long-term.
At How to Create WOW factor for your business with Robin Mauras Cartier of SoSPA at Ponte 16, Sean O’Connor of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Prof Arch Karl Landauer of Atelier Landauer GmbH and Tony Cheung of PA Wellness Consultancy takeaway points included; first impressions still count, the spa’s story is key, the power of wow is in the details of the details, simplicity works better than complexity, setting the mood is vital as is using the five senses. In addition, subliminal satisfaction creates a memorable spa visit, spa-goers are looking for an experience to cherish and something that makes them feel recognised.
The Spa Director’s Best Practice Management with Alice Leung of The Ritz-Carlton Macau, Jane Wong of Bliss Spa, W Hotel Hong Kong, Day Lagasca of Mandarin Oriental Macau, and Helen Norman of Aromatherapy Associates rounded off the day. Internal service standards, whatever the brand, should focus on people, product and profit. Benchmarking is key, not only internally between properties of the same brand with a focus on occupancy, therapist utilization, treatment prices, retail etc. but also following customer satisfaction to highlight areas in which to improve service.