SpaFinder President Susie Ellis has named her picks for the top 10 spa trends to watch in 2010. This is SpaFinder’s seventh annual forecast, which looks at the emerging concepts and trends that will shape the world of spa in 2010 and beyond. What does Susie, our spa industry insider, think will be the top trends to watch this year? Read her picks below.
1. The New “P” Word
Goodbye, pampering. Hello, prevention. Well, not so fast. It’s more like, move over, pampering; hello, prevention. Against the backdrop of healthcare debate and reform, prevention is poised to be the new “it” word of the spa industry in 2010 and beyond. But rather than replacing established industry concepts like pampering and wellness, it’s a sharp (and smart) refocusing of the conversation. Pampering, after all, speaks to the goal of most spa-goers of stress reduction and relaxation, and that in itself is preventive.
2. Year of the Hammam
With spa-goers increasingly seeking authenticity, tradition, and that magical spa experience that also offers true results, the Eastern European/Middle Eastern/North African hammam (hamam in Turkey) represents one of the hottest trends for 2010, albeit with a distinctly modern expression. This is the year in which people who’ve never heard the term hammam will learn its meaning, and those already familiar with it will discover new places to experience it.
3. Not “Going to,” But “Belonging to” a Spa
No longer a place where you infrequently “go” for the occasional treatment, spas are being creatively reimagined as places of “belonging”—not only literally, through the rise in membership programs, but also in the diverse ways spas are being recast as social or communal hubs—contributing the additional, although unspoken, benefit of emotional health.
4.The Online Spa
2010 will prove a watershed year for the spa industry’s virtual presence. Consumers are already finding spas online, booking treatments, joining online weight loss and coaching groups. They are printing out instant gift certificates, shopping virtual spa stores, being influenced by online reviews, and embracing social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. (Some even play the Sally Spa game. But there’s more to come.
Get ready for gaming while you exercise, for having health information (like your blood pressure and heart rate) automatically uploaded for access online by your spa or doctor, and for spas to use yield management software that (much like the airlines) enables price variation, so spas can offer a less expensive massage on weekday mornings, compared to Saturday afternoons. And in early 2010, you’ll be able to stroll down any street in the U.S. and check your iPhone to pinpoint the spa nearest you, thanks to the upcoming SpaFinder App.
5. The Hybrid Spa
The modern spa is increasingly a “hyphenated” affair, with spas incorporating far more fitness, fitness centers incorporating more spa, hospitals incorporating spa elements, and spas bringing in more medical doctors and specialists. The era of the spa/fitness/integrated-health-center/hospital/spiritual-retreat/wellness-center/beauty-clinic is on a serious upswing. It’s one integrated human body, after all, and the “pure” spa is on the decline, while the hybrid spa is busy inventing new you-name-it, plugged-in models.
6. The Price Is (Still) Right
2009’s headline spa story was the industry’s aggressive response to the global recession and the near-universal focus on deals, deals, and more deals. While there’s (cautious) consensus that the economy is in recovery mode, there’s great news for consumers in 2010: The spa bargains will continue apace, not only straight discounting, but also more innovative incentives smartly designed by spas to drive incremental revenue and retain loyal customers. And keep an eye out for savvy new spas combining less expensive treatments and facilities with a touch of glamour, hitting that sweet spot between “nice” and “price.”
7. Wellness Tourism Wows
We’re familiar with people seeking spas for wellness—and also with “medical tourism,” crossing borders for medical procedures (often plastic surgery, dentistry, knee replacements, etc.). Well, make room for “wellness tourism,” a term now being used to describe traveling across borders for preventive services, diagnostics, spa and well-being vacations, even the wow’s of DNA testing, stem-cell banking, and the like. The concept not only dramatically broadens the appeal of the medical tourism model (which has suffered from its narrow association with plastic surgery), it’s increasingly poised to become the way we define our time away from home and work in the future.
8. Scary and Silly Spa Stories Drive Evidence, Science, and Standards
The fallout from heavily publicized spa horror stories—and the recession-driven consumer insistence on no-gimmick treatments with real, measurable benefits—will quicken a rising industry trend: the demand for evidence-based therapies, stricter industry standards, and greater transparency/resources to help spa-goers separate the spa wheat from the chaff. As spas move into the health and wellness sectors, facts, evidence, and science that support industry approaches will move front and center, even at the cost of a few diamond facials.
9. Diversity at a Tipping Point
For years analysts have discussed how the spa industry has been attracting new demographics (men, teens, seniors, new ethnic groups). But in 2010 diversity has reached a tipping point in the U.S that in time will likely be followed by the rest of the world: It has fully arrived, and it’s here to stay. Spa-going has become so mainstream that the face of the spa-goer will now continue to reflect the wider global population. Every spa region has its unique “diversity story”, and around the globe both women and men, younger and older generations, and all ethnic groups are hitting the spa. And spas are taking note, with offerings that cater to these diverse groups’ needs and wants. Set to explode: In the U.S. alone, where approximately 78 million baby boomers are poised to enter their 60s, watch for “silver spa-ing” to really take off.
The modern human experience is an unprecedented amount of sensory overload, noise, and media stimulation. We’re wired to the gills, spending nearly all waking hours in front of TV and computer screens—bombarded, texting, Tweeting, clattering away—now even on airplanes. With the spa as one of the last remaining sanctuaries of silence and serenity, look for the industry to put a new emphasis on stillness, on slowness, on silence.
Bonus Trend: Celebrating Celebration
In a recent survey, travel agents reported the #1 emerging spa travel trend was people increasingly hitting stay spas for special occasions like the big “0s,” anniversaries, weddings, retirement parties, etc. And after the severe downturn in hotels’ corporate/meetings business (which, because of virtual conferencing, will continue to decline), the industry is aggressively incentivizing group celebration travel to revitalize lost business. This concept was born at the day spa (with its long tradition of bachelorette, graduation, and “girlfriend” parties), and its rapid migration into the travel arena in 2010 is one great reason for the industry to celebrate.
To read the full report of SpaFinder’s Top 10 Trends to Watch in 2010, click here.