Do You Need to Hire a Traffic Planner for Your Spa?

26 09 2009

 

STOP, BACK UP, TO THE LEFT, A LITTLE MORE, FOLLOW THAT CORRIDOR…..NOW YOU’RE READY FOR YOUR RELAXING MASSAGE

When assembling your team of experts and consultants for a new spa related direct your spa trafficproject, you don’t typically think of adding a state or city traffic planner to your team.  But should you?

The impact of avoiding congestion, underestimated space, and calculating flow and function is why many large scale spa brands are seeking the counsel of city traffic planners. With 18,000 – 80,000 square feet to be considered at some of these destination and mixed use spas, it’s no wonder they seek counsel.

There is one thing about spa planning and layout, just as with any other project management. Do it right the first time! I’ve seen too many spa projects: Start up’s and renovations get a VERY expensive education on what to do and not do in spa planning. Pay for your MBA at University, not on the job training with your project.

So why city traffic planners? Because they focus on things like bottlenecks, connectivity, and flow. Because your infrastructure and function push your traffic (clients) where you want them to be, at the time you want them to be there, while still maintaining a high traffic flow and the illusion of tranquility and space. 

Do you want your high paying luxury destination guests annoyed there are too many people in the hammam at peak hours, or that the siesta room is not siesta-worthy, or the organic juice bar does not meet their needs because of underestimated planning? I doubt it, unless you want your budgets not to be met, and unsettled investors on your back.

Let’s create an example of a large mixed use spa being built in Egypt or Beirut.  This will take a bit of knowledge about architecture, landscape architecture, civil & structural engineering, historical preservation, sociology, cultural history,  local talent access, local healing traditions, customs and labor laws, and possibly even immigration.  Not to mention consultants experienced in spa concepts, marketing, training and launch. Guess what, an urban planner or traffic engineer is very likely among this mix too.

Much of the above applies to nationally built spas as well as foreign built spas, however the issues of navigating foreign lands and laws increases the need for these. And since many of the large spas brands (BuddhaAttitude, Rosewood, Six Senses, ESPA) are launching in more remote, and more foreign wide open spaces, (Jordan, Damascus, Qatar, Maldives) the assembly of the project management team with the skill set above  is  first and foremost.

Here are some of the similarities amongst spa planning and traffic planning:

  • 1. Preserving useful and open spaces
  • 2. Be forward thinking for future growth and increased use/traffic
  • 3. Creative construction and solutions around existing or difficult areas
  • 4. Smart management and direction through the areas once they are built
  • 5. Reduction or elimination (in spas) of congestion that keeps flow and funtion going
  • 6. Managing the investment and getting the best market pricing

There is a high cost to congestion, even in spas. Planners of all types are there to help you solve your traffic flow problems and ensure your guests will float away in bliss, leaving a long trail of positive testimonials with everyone they meet, resulting in increased branding and traffic for you.  A traffic 2public relations dream.

In the meantime, keep the traffic jams to a minimum.





Don’t Let the Fear of Hard Times, Overshadow Your Real Spa Business Goals

28 03 2008

spamoney.jpgThe recession detox. It’s time to purge your personal and business systems from the anxiety and trepidation coupled with hard times. Discover how to overcome the fearful predictions for the economy, and why many feel that these effects have been exaggerated, even for small business owners. There have been hard times before, and traditionally in times of a perceived crisis people tend to stick with what they feel is safe, their favorite brands, and look to businesses that are confident in their product and stimulate innovation. Avon, for example,survived the downturn of the 1930’s by selling it’s business opportunity to women, and a commitment to door to door sales and service. The difference of a direct selling method and an empowered women workforce allowed them to continue their successful management through the depression. The opposite of that would have been the inability of Avon’s leader’s to recognize the importance of market synergies, even in a difficult time, and ultimately, defeat. Are we in a similar situation? Consider following the lead of Avon’s approach in the 30’s, and up sizing your service and retail market.

The definition of optimism can be seen as an outlook on life such that allows one to maintain a view of the world as a positive place. With current predictions, many spa owners and entrepreneur’s will need a healthy share of optimism to get through what these times are predicted to bring. Or do we look to reports like that of the Economist, who say that with the national unemployment rate at 6.4 percent, people are still fueling the $160 billion-a-year international beauty industry. Though there does seem to be a modest decline in leisure travel and spending, most small businesses, including spas are saying they are not necessarily feeling the crunch. The retail director at a Burke- Williams spa, says even with tax season, business is great. Other spa directors and individuals also feel these predictions may have been overblown, and they are still experiencing an influx of people who need pampering, botox, teeth whitening, massage and waxing. According to most we are still not sure we are in a recession, and there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. Smart businesses will survive.

What are the real issues facing spas with a cloud of recession, and what are the perceived issues? Though some spa services and wellness programs may be viewed as a nicety rather than a necessity, don’t get bogged down in pessimism. Spas have the ability to provide a vital service that contributes to the relief of increased stress from uncertain times. Well produced services and beneficial products contribute to a healthy society by addressing the holistic needs of both emotional and physical tension. A commodity greatly needed at this time.

BELIEVE IN YOUR SPA – SUGGESTED STRATEGIES

professinallearning.jpg Whatever your business viewing angle, it is clear that there is a need for improved recruiting methods for top staff, key sales management, downsizing expensive advertising and new product and market tactics to meet the current situation. It may be necessary to change your target market, if only temporarily, and focus more on internal marketing and retention. Choose a few specialties to promote, and ensure that your services are viewed as a necessity. Your marketing dollars now need to go further so you may pull print ad’s and revive e commerce options, more viral marketing, and of course as much positive media as you can muster.

Take a look at your cities community spending, travel sectors, hospitality sectors and leisure spending that contributes to comparable markets, like spa spending. One good place to start is building a relationship with your local visitors bureau and chamber’s of commerce. You can find a wealth of information on general consumer purchasing, how many people visit the area, and what they are spending. Possibly more pressing is information on increases and decreases in estimated spending, expected local expansion and pre development information. Your city could be a gold mine of tourist, meeting, convention and special event destinations funds. Areas that spas can create super affiliate ventures with.Spas should be looking at their proximity to other attractions, demand, and consumer necessities, even whether people use travel and hospitality to access their location. This is a time where you need to ensure that you take advantage of the market when others are shying away. Hesitation is devastation.

FOLLOW THE RESULTS – NOT OTHERS

Social proof is a funny thing. Most people will follow what others think is right, fair, or correct rather then taking a deeper look at their own facts and circumstance. Don’t let social proof or majority opinion focused on an increasing recession be one of your mistakes. It’s time to get tough, and creative. Be aware of what the competition is doing, but don’t use it as the directive that determines your planning. It will be necessary to create a balance in the supply and demand in the leisure industry, as growth and competition will continue to increase, and we ride out the first and second quarters of 2008 for results. The supply of day spas is sufficient, the demand is there. You have the responsibility to create a channel of effective marketing that will bring that demand to you, and carry you through what some are calling a recession. If you are a smaller business, don’t worry, you have some advantages over corporate behemoths. You have less bureaucracy, more decision making responsibility, recognition of success, more influence with top management, a niche market, and the ability to directly affect the bottom line.

To create your own results, check out where your bottom line is, and re direct your efforts to high return marketing like a publicist, who may cost less than your current efforts. Focus on creative ideas, headlines and adopt products that will create differentiation. Over all you will need to do what your numbers say you can do. In all of this arranging and researching, you can find solace in knowing that you’re not the only one who may be experiencing uncertainty. Some of your competitor’s are seeking the guidance of advisors, and beta testing new ideas to stay competitive. Not a bad suggestion.

Though many feel that is isn’t safe or smart to reveal their worries or challenges in business, especially in a time of tightened competition. It can be an emotional and financial lifesaver during times like these. Not recognizing these ‘little’ things can begin to tear the business culture in your spa apart and be a dis-advantage to you.

A few suggested solutions to check out are MayerLeadership.com, and Emotional Intelligence seminars. You can also find a business driven healing arts advisor to direct you through tough times, and you shouldn’t view that as a weakness.

IS YOGA A GOOD ANALOGY FOR BUSINESS

prayer.jpg All of this decision making and necessity for effecting change, reminds me of those times when I’m on my way to yoga class. I know it will be good for me, and I will feel better after, but I weigh it out with the amount of effort, time and dedication it takes. It’s even sometimes downright painful, but the end result is worth it. However I find myself watching the clock thinking I can fit in just one more phone call, or a little more work before class. Minutes pass by, then a few more, and now I’ve got to rush to class just to make it on time, and there’s little chance that I will.

Have I some how sub consciously created tasks to procrastinate? Things that will get me off the ‘hook’ of going to class. I think even though I didn’t make it to class like I should, I can still feel good about myself because I was working, or completing something else that was important, right? Wrong, had I just stuck to my schedule and completed the task at hand and made it to yoga, I would have reaped the rewards that I was looking for, rather than putting it off until another day.

In other words, sometimes we don’t do what we should, or what we know is best for us, whether it’s a simple yoga class, or a new marketing tactic to pommel a recession. It will too take effort, and focus, so remember while you’re putting off your goals and change for another day, others are digging in their heels and gaining clients, revenue, and the benefits of a well contemplated plan.

 

So instead of being focused on that whatchamacallit, explore your options and speak with a specialist for additional insight and plan your own recession detox. One for staying power. After all I don’t think we’ve heard the whole story yet.