In many ways, spa guests are a reflection of all savvy consumers today. They are knowledgeable and are looking to spend wisely. They appreciate service, especially the great people who deliver it consistently. They are looking for ways to “get away from it all” without breaking the bank (or being away from their home or workplace for long periods). OTAs and daily-deal websites have engendered new expectations and new approaches to purchase decision-making. And so-called “service automation” is now the preference of almost half of all hotel guests.

Luxury spas have reacted to these challenges in many ways, primary among them are: service quality programs, renovations, retail enhancement, and revenue management practices (such as price yielding). These all boil down to: creating value for guests, and improving communications with new and existing customer segments.

So how does online booking fit into the bigger picture? Online booking is likely the next best, high-return solution for meeting these challenges at your spa. To help make my point, here are three important ways that online booking can support your current efforts and goals:

1. Providing real guest value – benefits that make a real difference
Your guests want a great experience and meaningful results for the money spent. This process begins with a customer’s first interactions with your menus, brochures and website, all of which represent the extended experience at your spa. When your guest is planning a spa itinerary, what message are you sending by restricting their booking activities to the telephone and its inevitable hold queues? Some of your customers may prefer to call, but those who don’t are getting the wrong impression. Forcing guests to use your awkward web forms, waiting for and hoping to receive a confirmation for the treatment time is really no better. Online booking provides an elegant solution to this important first impression – your spa menu comes alive, guests can immediately see what is available and when. For guests who follow through online, they will receive an instant confirmation – booked, done. Bottom line, your offerings are easily accessible, available to book 24×7 and beautifully laid out – just the great experience and added benefit your valued and savvy guests want. They will reward you.

2. Supporting higher prices – price versus value
Delivering more for the money has become an expectation of your guests. Perhaps you reacted by offering complimentary use of spa facilities as an alternative to lowering your prices? Online experiences that spotlight popular treatments, packages and key benefits carry a strong value message and make it easier for customers to see value in the entire spa visit, not just in the treatment itself. Online booking is the perfect stage on which to deliver value messaging. A place where customers can read, and immediately act on, these benefits. Popular treatments are easily located. Package contents are clearly detailed. Key benefits are all laid out. Next to each is a link to book with the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger. Demonstrate value, more guests perceive it and book more frequently.

3. Generating demand and segmenting customers – managing revenue
Perhaps you’ve completed a renovation and expanded your treatment rooms? Maybe you continue to have need periods you want to fill? Your revenue management efforts have been somewhat effective at closing the demand gap. Possibly you have cultivated new markets, through special events, marketing and providing added value, and this has generated demand? Online booking supports these efforts by providing a way to react to customer segments with yielded prices, by tracking and reacting to guest activity by feeding your analytics engine, and by collaborating with e-marketing systems to trigger follow-up offers. Yielding fills your treatment-room-hours, and tracking “closes the loop” on your e-marketing efforts telling you what customers are looking for and what they are finding (important if they’re not finding what they seek). Targeted offers, engaged customers, fewer empty rooms and higher revenues are the result.

In summary, luxury spas must create value for guests, and improve communications with new and existing customer segments to meet today’s challenges. Online booking is a requisite component for achieving the following important goals:

1. Demonstrating value from the first touch by offering elegant booking experiences,
2. Communicating a strong value message in digital media, especially in places that lead customers to convert, and
3. Extending and improving revenue management and e-marketing efficiency through yielding, analytics and targeted offers.

Ryatta SpaDirect is a guest-friendly, highly customizable solution for web and mobile spa booking that is ready to meet the above challenges. We’ll deliver a beautiful, secure online offering for your website. Best of all, based on a survey of our customers who have implemented the above, you can expect a high payback (ROI) from online booking. Now is the time to take it to the next level. Contact Ryatta today to find out how we can help.

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Special thanks to the following authors and publications:

Increasing spa value, revenue and profit” by Barbara Talbott – Hotel News Now

BEST PRACTICES: Revenue Maximization for Spas” by Judy Singer – Hotel Business Review

David Andrews is a Canadian web developer and President of Ryatta Group. David founded Ryatta Group to build hospitality web applications, releasing SpaDirect (renamed ROBE for Spa), a successful and innovative real-time web and mobile spa booking platform in 2012. Since that time, he and his team have built market share through a series of innovations, including the groundbreaking Itinerary Booking™ system, which improves online spa revenue by as much as 50% over the competition.