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Massage Today
February, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 02

Spa Letters

By Steve Capellini, LMT

The Spa Letters column features news, personality profiles, trends, and plenty of professional possibilities for LMTs in the spa industry. The style is epistolary, meaning the articles are letters to a fictional massage therapist friend of the author.

Dear Lou,

The treatment menu for your soon-to-open Spa House is coming together, and it was a little trickier to create than you'd imagined, wasn't it? When you walk into a great spa and take a glance at its beautiful brochure and list of services, it all seems so natural and easy, doesn't it? But when you have to do the work yourself, you understand how much goes into it.

I think you've made some wise choices as far as the treatments you're going to offer, and I'm not just saying that because you followed my advice on some of them! Nobody could resist the sumptuous Spa House Specials you've created:

  • Spa House Wraps: Herbal Escape, Soothing Sea Masque, Clay Cocoon, Cellulite Hydro-Wrap, and Aroma Enevelopemént.
  • Massages: Spa House Stress Relief Massage, Spa House Sports Massage, Spa House Energy Balancing Massage, Thai Massage, and CranioSacral.
  • Esthetics: Spa House Facial, Spa House Gentlemen's Facial, Rejuvenating Oxygen Facial, Fruit-Acid Facial, and Moor Mud Facial.
  • Exfoliation: Spa House Salt Glow, Spa House Cinnamon Sugar Scrub, and Spa House Gentle Body Scrub.

You've also added several foot and hand treatments, a scalp treatment, manicures, pedicures and "quickie" chair-massage. This is a great start for a menu, Lou. There is no need to be overly worried about the items you did not include at this stage, as you will inevitably revisit this menu and make amendments in coming years. What you should concentrate on now is training your staff thoroughly on all the treatments and products.

Product Choice

I'm happy to hear that you've chosen products known for their organic properties. Although these products are not generally well known, you will be able to educate the public about their value. Sometimes it's smart to use a less remarkable brand and then pair it with your own Spa House private label products later, rather than go for a famous skin care/body care line now. You're smart to avoid the tendency of "transference" in which you hope to upgrade the image of your spa by associating with famous brands. Sometimes that backfires, and you end up without a clearly recognizable image of your own.

Proudly display, in a conspicuous area in your spa, each of the all-natural lines you will be using in your treatments. These of course will also be available for sale to your clients, but they are there to enhance your spa's image, not take it over. The trick is to get your clients interested in buying your spa's overall image and to have them view products as an adjunct of that.

You've got mud from Hungary, clay from Sedona, fango from Italy, seaweed from France, Ayurvedic oils from India, shampoos from the Hawaiian rainforests, plus several more products on your shelves. My advice is to keep diversifying, as you have already. Then, when it comes time to highlight one brand in the near future (hopefully shortly after you open the spa), it will be your own house brand.

The Signature Service

I absolutely love the signature service you've chosen for the Spa House. Asian treatments are very hot right now in the spa market, so it's great that you're going with that theme and offering the Spa House Balinese Ritual. At 2 1/2 hours long, with a healthy snack and take-home spa sandals included, I think you're going to receive some rave reviews and many repeat customers, even though the price, at $295, seemed high to you at first. Your spa business partner Barbara was wise to price it at that level. After all, your clients will be getting a lot for their money: the dedicated attention of one of your therapists, gifts, and first-class natural products from the exotic South Pacific via, the same company you trained with while working at the resort spa a few years back.

It's some kind of destiny that your previous work is coming in handy as you incorporate your training and experience into your new endeavor. Based on the traditional "Lulur" ritual of preparing brides for their weddings, the treatment features my favorite triumvirate of exfoliation, hydrotherapy and massage. It doesn't get any better than this, with rose petals in the bath, a creamy yogurt-based mask application, and a long, flowing Polynesian-style massage session.

Your choice of signature service can even color other, broader choices at the Spa House too, if you want. The room in which you provide the Balinese Ritual can be decorated with wood carvings, silk wall hangings, native statuettes and warm tropical earth tones. This theme, over time, may trickle out into the rest of the spa. Personally, I can't wait to see it!

Menu Creation

Now that you have created a menu in your mind, you need to create a physical menu on paper, which means that you're going to have to strike up a relationship with yet another co-creator of your spa vision - a printer. Perhaps you didn't think of a printer as being a core member of your spa-creation team, but stop for a moment and think about collateral materials - brochures, fliers, stationary, letterhead, logos, business cards and so on. Besides the actual spa, collateral is what most impresses clients and potential clients. It's what "shouts out" your spa's image loud and clear; it is your signature and personality sent out far and wide into the world. In fact, when you use electronic collateral on the Internet, you are making this image visible for millions across the globe.

One tip I'd like to offer as you and your collateral design partner begin putting together your materials: Insert a separate price card, sometimes known as a tariff sheet, which you can change at any time easily without having to go back to the printer for another run, wasting hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on existing brochures.

Stop and give your collateral materials some serious thought, Lou. You'll benefit greatly by teaming with a printer and/or designer who shares some of the vision you have for the Spa House. Interview a few people. Find someone who loves spas and would like to get involved hands-on with the project. He or she should receive a few treatments and walk through the spa with you to get an idea about the kind of image you're attempting to create.

I look forward to hearing about the collateral-collaborator you find and seeing some of the art you create together soon. In the meantime, hang in there - you're getting closer and closer to the opening of your new vision, the Spa House!

Until Next Time,

Steve Capellini, LMT

Click here for previous articles by Steve Capellini, LMT.


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