I recently attended a spa conference where the Senior V.P. of a well known cosmetic brand was asked to give a lecture on retailing in spas. He apologetically stated multiple times in his presentation that there were many people in the audience who knew more than him on the subject, but that did not stop him in being very professorial in the delivery of his lecture. Everything that he presented had been thoroughly researched, but unfortunately not in the appropriate department. Indeed his lecture can be summarized through one of his remarks that hotel spas should copy what retail stores do in order to increase their retail revenue. And indeed to the non-professional it would sound logical; but unfortunately this is not the case.
The main difference lies in the mindset that clients have when they enter the premises of a retail shop or department store, they are there to buy stuff. This is usually not the case when a client goes to a spa, they are there to receive treatments and to live an experience; therefore the process of capturing their interest is vastly different. Displays of products are expected in a retail store and since most stores do not have a multitude of sales staff, it is the only way to show off what the store wants to sell. In a spa the sale of cosmetic products is either complementary to the service performed or suggested as another therapeutic approach to enhance the results of the treatments and service through home care. The proof is in the pudding as they say. I have designed and managed spas that do not have more than two or three products on display in an artistic manner thus reminding the subconscious that products are available and where the staff has been trained to sell properly, that yield 34 to 40% retail to treatment sales. However I have seen too many spas which use the antiquated retail shop methodology and rarely get more than 10% in retail sales.
Another important element to consider if retails sales are to be an important factor to the bottom line, is simply to make sure that what is being proposed meets what the clientele is interested in? Of course and yet most spas, particularly hotel and resort spas, have retail products or lines which are women centric cosmetic brands which can be found in department stores. My advice, do not listen to what cosmetic retailers are telling you, think for yourself and remember that the best way to sell anything is through a genuine service oriented attitude, a smile, a compassionate demeanor and the right choice of products for your targeted clientele. Spas are not the same as retail stores or pharmacies so what works for them may not necessarily work for you.