Dubbed the “biggest birth month” as more newborns arrived in September than in any other month, according to Babycenter, Belly Friendly, a prenatal education, recognition and marketing program for spas, is spotlighting prenatal spa treatments to consumers during the month of September. We talk to founder Stacy Denny about her program and how spas can benefit from becoming Belly Friendly.
“More than 16,000 pregnant women enter the market every day in the U.S., making this a prevalent, yet underserved market segment. The program is designed to encourage moms who may have never considered a prenatal spa service to try one at a Belly Friendly spa,” Denny says of the promotion, where spas that are a part of the Belly Friendly program are offering a $50 gift certificate for a future service to moms who book a prenatal service in September 2012. Denny also founded the prenatal spa Barefoot & Pregnant in 2003. “By offering the incentive to come back during the pregnancy, we avoid standard ‘discounting’ and have more opportunity to create a relationship.”
Denny created Belly Friendly after she realized the demand for specialized services that pregnant moms could trust.
“Not only were moms from across the country contacting us to find similar spas [to Barefoot & Pregnant] located in their area, I received dozens of calls from spa owners interested in creating a Barefoot & Pregnant environment,” Denny says. “To make the award-winning concept more available to spas and moms, I developed the Belly Friendly program which launched in January 2012.”
Partnering with Belly Friendly
Belly Friendly helps spas to be more proficient in catering to expecting moms through training programs and marketing support. To join, the spa must already offer a prenatal service and have specially trained therapists who perform the services. Belly Friendly requires this to filter out spas that either aren’t interested or don’t understand the impact of the prenatal spa market, Denny says. Once the commitment is made, all spa staff must complete the online training to be marketed as a Belly Friendly spa.
“As a Belly Friendly spa partner, spas receive extensive marketing support directly to the prenatal market via grass roots medical and community outreach, strategic relationships such as Fit Pregnancy magazine and TheBump, and online,” Denny explains. “We have strategic partnerships with key pregnancy media, and are able to leverage those relationships to help our partners receive exposure within the pregnancy industry – an industry that is difficult to reach for spas that need to focus on overall business goals and don’t have the resources to allocate to a specific niche.”
Spas also receive professionally designed collateral materials and marketing templates that can be easily customized and printed on demand, as well as a Belly Friendly “seal of approval.”
The online education portion is designed to help all spa employees—from the front desk and managers to therapists — understand the pregnancy experience and create a pregnancy-friendly environment. The education ranges from the myths and faux pas of pregnancy to what a mom is experiencing by trimester.
“It also provides an important segment focused on building therapist confidence as we often see therapists that are specially trained continue to struggle with their fears and doubts in working with expecting moms,” says Denny. “The Belly Friendly education program enhances existing training; it does not replace the need for specialized prenatal massage training.”
So, what’s most important about a prenatal spa program?
“Safety and confidence,” says Denny. “If both the spa staff and the client feel safe and confident in the treatments that they are giving and receiving, then both will benefit from the experience. The key is removing the ‘modality’ from prenatal massage, and treating it as the experience that it is; this isn’t hot stone reflexology – this is a life changing experience that lasts for 40 weeks. To treat it as a check mark on a spa menu does both client and spa a disservice.”
Spas across the country are partnering with Belly Friendly to become the destination in their communities for expecting moms, including many SpaFinder® Wellness spas like Guerlain Spa at Waldorf Astoria, New York; YeloSpa, New York; Hotel Healdsburg & Spa in Healdsburg, California; Valencia Day Spa in Frisco, Texas; Elixir Mind Body in Denver; and many more.
Some interesting stats: Barefoot & Pregnant and Mama Mio conducted an online survey in May and June 2011 that found that nearly all moms (95%) surveyed said they would be more likely to visit a spa with specialized prenatal training over another spa. More than 60% of respondents received prenatal spa treatments during pregnancy; 38% booked two to three spa services throughout their pregnancy; and 28% booked four or more services. Of those surveyed, 30% brought friends and family to the spa for accompanying services. And, more than 60% of moms continue to visit the same spa post-pregnancy.