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How quickly will you embrace business and get cracking to double your profits this coming year?  Easier said than done?  yes sure, but without a shadow of a doubt, the wellness industry is still growing, it is in fact becoming integrated into societies habits and routines, no longer just a weekend spoil or getaway splash.  Keeping up with trends and getting your teeth into the trends early will determine the difference between breaking even and running a profitable business with a loyal clientele that has longevity.

So before we look at global spa/salon trends for 2018 lets agree on the South African market place and potential spa/salon guest.  We are definitely seeing increased stress levels, disrupted sleep, exhausted mentally and physically, technologically switched on, social media influenced, needing me time or time out, aware of the need for fitness and exercise type of person.  This together with the regular maintenance guest just looking for grooming needs.  We have an increase in male guests, teenagers and kids.

With the above in mind, we really are looking at a very diverse and large market place making your ability to get and retain clients easier if you are giving them what they are looking for.

So let’s look at what 2018 brings more of to the market place, then align what you are already strong at with the trends to amplify your client capture and grow your business.

  1. Customisation and Connection.  This was touched on in 2017 but most definitely the deciding factor of whether you keep your clients in 2018.  How connected your client is to your spa/salon and how customised your offering for him or her is will determine their loyalty.  Think about ways you are connecting with your clients currently?  Do they engage with your communication?  If not, why not?  Then change it.  Are you sending the right message to the right target market or just sending the message out to your data base?  Do you get feedback?  And how meaningful is that feedback to the decisions you make going forward? How customisable is your menu?  Or can the client only order what is on the menu?  Think carefully about customising your menus for 2018.  Have the basics and then simply add on and customise to meet specific needs.
  2. Healthy Ageing seems to be the talk of the town. Offer your clients results driven solutions with no downtime and feeling of wellbeing at the same time.  How the client feels all the time whilst looking after their skin and body is what matters and what they remember all day long so focus on this.  Focus on what do they see, touch, feel, and hear when they are with you and away from you?  Do they remember you when they are not with you?  Do they smell you when they are not with you?  Do they feel good when they follow what you tell them to do?  This all sounds a bit strange but pretend you are the guest and take the journey they would interacting with your salon/spa and using the products you give them to take home and wellness advice.
  3. Digital Deli! If you think we need to block and stop digital in the spa you are fighting a losing battle.  Rather find ways to work with the digital times we are living in.  Integrating technology into the spa is essential.  Do you facilitate and recommend social media activity on arrival and departure?  With pictures?  With testimonials?  If you don’t ask you won’t get but the ones who ask will get.  Are you offering online bookings yet?  Best you do.  Facilitate the booking quicker than your competitor.   Ipods for personal music choice during treatments is key to customisation so consider this and find a way to customise music selection.  Get your gift vouchers online and get your monthly package offers online and then market and the drive the sale of these.  Do your lockers offer phone charging stations? Are you doing your skin analysis and consultations online?  Sending them to your guests after treatment as reminder of their personal needs?  All of this is going to happen, find a way to get in first.
  4. Instant Gratification with a little suffering! This might sound odd but alongside healthy ageing comes the once or twice a year more radical treatment approach that has no specific downtime in terms of actual surgery and missing work but that has some actual physical changes seen on the skin.  For example, skin peels are on the rise, collagen induction therapy in the form on micro needling and specifically automated systems are huge on the rise with the consumer wanting a slight more aggressive approach but not under the knife.  These are all procedures that a skin therapist can offer even in a spa as a once off, spa peeling facials are on the climb.
  5. Happy hormones. How happy do you make your clients?  From making the booking with you, to arrival, to check in, to the fabrics her/his body touches, to the ambience of the treatment area, to the knowledge and skills level of the therapist, to the food and beverage options, to the check out, to the homecare advice and product recommendation to the follow up phone call.  What a mouthful but yes all of this and how many happy hormones you manage to release in your clients will mean how happy your bank account is.
  6. Spaties: Visiting a spa in groups is more popular. Bachelorettes are changing in that a group of girls would rather be in the spa for a day than out eating and drinking.  Teens, kids & corporates are spending more time in the spa than ever before so don’t ignore this and have the attitude that your spa does not cater for kids but instead allocate specific days and times to offer kids parties and don’t forget the gifting opportunities that can boost your retail.  This was on the radar in 2017 and those that started have definitely seen the reward.  It is time to find the group of people in your target market and get them into the spa.  Find a way to get golfers off the course and into the spa!
  7. It seems that red is the colour for healing therapy for 2018.  Infra-red saunas are seeing an increase in both residential and spa businesses. Incorporate this into all treatments as value add or packages to increase well-being.
  8. Preventative wellness. 2018 sees a focus on prevention is better than cure.  So whilst Botox is still in the top 5 beauty treatments, focus on prevention treatments and be sure that your message is clear and what the preventative objectives are.  Incorporate wellness into your offering in welcome rituals, in closing rituals, in value adds such as yoga on the lawn followed by stretching and hydro therapy as an example. Offer colouring in as part of your relaxation or recovery time or part of a de stress package teaching the consumer different methods of stress control after they leave the spa.   Offer your guest a silence session after the treatment such as 5 minutes of actual meditation time after the treatment where you set them up and meditate with them in total silence for 5 minutes.
  9. Environmental responsibilities Eco friendly up – this eco awareness is not going to go away. In fact it is becoming more of a global focus with everyone trying to do their part in some small way.  Look at your spa and find ways to eco up a notch.  For example:  recycling bins in public areas of the spa, organic on site grown veggies, solar lighting and recycling water.
  10. Better delivery of services and treatments is for me the most important point to take from this whole article. The consumer is service delivery driven, they know what a massage feels like, they know what a facial should do so now you need to take those services and ensure the delivery of the service is BETTER than BEST.  How do you do this?  Use your fussiest guest to guide you, use other spa managers to come and asses the treatment, use your supplier to train your team and assist you with ideas of how to improve the delivery of the service.  The consumer is now not only looking for value for money but they are looking for how the treatment and the service is delivered from the moment they make the booking to after they have left.

There you have it, 10 points to look out for and take seriously by aligning your business with how the marketplace is shifting.

Lastly I want to point out the biggest challenge facing our industry that being the level of training retained in the country is by far our biggest challenge.  The highly skilled and properly qualified therapists are either leaving the country to work abroad or leaving the industry for a better paying industry.  This is a whole other article discussion but let’s start thinking about ways to retain this level of expertise and skill in the country and this can be done if we investigate creative ways to remunerate these therapists.

Embrace the changes that the Spa Industry brings for the coming year and plan how you will align your business and what changes you will implement immediately and of course HAVE FUN!

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