Training and value needed for future

McNees…education needed

THE global spa industry has clocked up growth of around 20 per cent per year in the past two decades and was expected to top $100 billion in core revenues last year with a further $194 billion in spa-related hospitality and tourism activity. 

And this rapid growth is leading to a shortage of qualified professionals with every new hotel seeking to open an ever-better spa facility.

International Spa Association (ISPA) president Lynne McNees said: “Just like in the 1980s when you had to have a fitness centre, today you have to have a spa in your property in order to stay competitive. The industry has experienced a tremendous amount of growth from 1999 when there were 4,143 locations to 2009 when there were 20,600 spas in the US alone. The industry is experiencing a lack of qualified professionals in the labour pool. Spas must focus on education, training and working with schools in their area to bring in the best talent for their properties.”

And she added that, though spas have been affected by the economic downturn, the treatments they offer are proving more necessary than ever.

“Virtually no industry has been immune to the current economic climate, but the spa industry has played a vital role in helping people deal with the additional stress,” she explained. “The number one reason people go to the spa is to reduce and relieve stress.  With concerns over the economy, combined with our busy schedules, people are realising they must take time out to recharge their batteries and are turning to the spa lifestyle.”

An ISPA survey conducted in 2010 showed that six in 10 spas introduced discounts and incentives to attract new clients while 18 per cent brought in membership programmes.

The same study found that the most popular treatment for both men and women was massage and stress relief was the number one reason for visiting a spa.

McNees said the association does have members in the Middle East and welcomes the increasing number of new resort/hotel destinations being built in the region which are particularly popular for traditional treatments such as hamams.

“Travellers are seeking authentic experiences, and spas around the world are offering treatments rich in history,” she said. “Indigenous treatments are some of the most popular choices on spa menus, in fact 23 per cent of spas in the US are offering them. Incorporating native elements into spa treatments ensures your trip is unique and creates lasting memories.”   

Looking to the future and how the industry deals with and encourages economic recovery, she said: “Right now it’s important for spa operators to keep in mind that when the economy picks up again consumers will still be looking for deals.

“Just because spa-goers will have more discretionary income doesn’t mean they won’t be savvy about spending it, because the mentality has changed. Creating brand and customer loyalty right now is extremely important.

“Medical spas are the fastest growing type of spa in the US and many spas are partnering with hospitals to offer patient care.”