I am constantly amazed when people who live an uneventful life, wake up one day and decide to invent the wheel. The French philosopher “Lapalisse” was known for proclaiming truism with assurance of a messiah! The earth is round, the sky is blue, and the water is wet! Another one might be: Innovation is the key to success in the spa industry. Innovation is the key to success in any industry, the lack of it spells a sure decline and eventually death! The “Global Spa Summit” organization in collaboration with the “Aspen Institute” has identified “Innovation” as the theme of the 2012 conference, Alleluia!
It was about time. In this industry, where everyone has been happily copying each other for decades, it certainly is timely to start thinking about new ideas. Of course there are some who have not waited for a “Global Spa Summit” to decide that innovation was a worthy subject. I have been innovating constantly for the last fifty years, one of the drawbacks of being in advance with ones time is that it is not necessarily appreciated. To do things differently is disturbing to most who relish in the norm, who find solace in doing what everyone else is doing. It takes courage and fortitude to be a pioneer. Europeans are still clinging to “Thermalism” the French “Thalassotherapy” in spite of the very reason why these forms of therapies are no longer successful. People want to see results and a twenty one day minimum to see results is the compulsory factor in these types of therapies. The average hotel stay is 4.5 days and a medical approach is totally obsolete today. Surely water is attractive and fun and this is how the product should be sold, not as medically beneficial but simply as a pleasurable experience. Water Parks have demonstrated that the formula works.
To innovate does not always mean to come up with something totally new, it can simply be another way to do the same thing. An example of this would the wrap, once a pillar of spa services which are no longer appreciated by a clientele more and more afflicted with claustrophobia. Astute spa creators offer “dynamic envelopments” performed on either a “Vichy Shower” or wet table in an appropriate wet room with the application of various products through long massage strokes and without “the wrapping”! The end result is better, the experience more pleasurable. Innovating can attract gimmicks and “snake oil” salesmen so, one must be weary not to fall in those traps and there are many: stone massages for example that are based on sound therapeutic principles; in the hands of “sorcerer’s apprentices” becomes a ridiculous satire!
Start with the fundamental philosophy of your industry: to create treatments to facilitate and improve life experiences, consider the objectives and expectations of your clientele: look better and younger, feel good, relax and be pleasured. Now extrapolate on those basics. An honest, objective analysis of what spa is today will surely help you to innovate without gimmicks!