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The Social Spa

Amping up your spa's focus on social media will not only sell more services it will help fill hotel rooms. Here's how.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Melinda Minton
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Social media in hotel spas is more powerful than social media for your hotel's presence overall. In fact, pumping up your spa's online reach can populate your guest rooms in ways not otherwise achieved as well as bring in locals to enjoy your spa as if it were a day spa; frequent your hotel for weekend getaways and recommend your hotel to out of town guests. Moreover, targeted social media brings guests back and ignites new guest visits because it is real, local, customer service driven and naturally engaging.

In fact, a Forrester research survey of more than 2,100 travelers, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor, revealed that while user-generated reviews were helpful in helping them make lodging decisions, both the presence and tone of hotel management responses were rated as having a significant influence on their decision of where to book a hotel. The majority of travelers surveyed said that if they were considering between two lodging options, the presence of management responses would be the ultimate factor in swaying them to pick one hotel over the other. More than convenience or price the extension of the spa as a friendly, accommodating amenity of the hotel is an attention getting and sales closing tool like none other.

At the Four Seasons in Seattle Director of Spa, Andra Diamond has seen great success with their social media efforts. “We primarily utilize Facebook and Twitter using local bloggers to invite the spa going set to join us for promotions and the latest treatments,” says Diamond. The strategy also helps in attracting those who are particular about their spa experience to the hotel when visiting from out of town. “We find that many travelers who are looking for a spa as well as a hotel will first consider where they might go for treatments and then chose a hotel. By getting into the local blogging scene our spa is immediately featured as a high quality choice with the addition of a world class hotel,” offers Diamond.

Allison Sitch, Vice President, Global Public Relations for Ritz Carlton, draws the bigger picture in noting that a global brand while certainly locally represented by each property has the larger task of focusing on key regions like Asia where the social media platforms are entirely different. “We see the spa as an extension of our brand and try not to put it into a bucket as an isolated business like the restaurant or the gym. It is all a part of our tightly knit focus on customer service,” says Sitch.

The Ritz Carlton, which is known for their internal programming of guest's desires, practices the same methodology with social media. “We focus first and foremost on accommodating the guest and their preferences be it tea before bedtime or the style of massage they prefer. We have had great success with getting our therapists online to discuss treatments that we offer to invite guests to enjoy some of the aspects of the spa that they might not otherwise know about,” says Sitch. As the spa environment has changed so has Ritz Carlton in anticipating the requirements of guests. “We try to engage guests through social media before they arrive to let them know of the high standards at our spa. These days there are at least five or six very high quality spas surrounding most of our larger properties. Social media techniques allow us to let the guest know of the excellence of our spa before they arrive on property.”

Other tips to consider:
  • Establish a strong presence: Have a presence, at a minimum, on Facebook and Twitter, and appoint a point person to manage social media for the spa
  • Set Up A Feedback Loop: Have a strong, time-sensitive feedback loop between the spa visit and their social media presence. Ask the recent spa visitor within hours of their treatment how they enjoyed their experience.
  • Have a way to leverage those increased likes and followers! Likes for likes' sake aren't useful, but if you can actually push monthly promotions to your Fan Page and measure the impact, that's significantly more valuable.
Finally, hotel spas must be aggressive with their brand and technology enables you to do that. “Contests involving customers on Facebook is one that we have seen work as well as offering add on services for guest referals,” says Mehta. Seemingly right on target as far as Director of Spa at the Four Seasons in Seattle, Andra Diamond is concerned. “Our most successful recent promotion highlighted the 12 days of Christmas offering a complimentary service to the winning guest per day,” says Diamond. Proving to be a great success both for bringing in guests to the hotel and stimulating local response Diamond says, “We will be doing more online promotions of the same sort soon.”
Melinda Minton
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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