Spa Membership Programs

Why your spa needs one and how to ensure success

Today’s consumer is focused on health and wellness. The Global Wellness Institute confirms this worldwide movement in their 2018 report, which states that wellness is a 4.5 trillion dollar economy.

Spas play a pivotal role in this global wellness marketplace. Many spa brands are looking for strategies to provide consistent programs for their clients who seek ways to incorporate health and wellness into their routines.

One such approach is a membership program. The membership concept is not new, nor is it unique to spas. It is a culturally recognized and accepted avenue to deliver consistent value to consumers. Membership models are found in various industries, from food delivery services and supermarkets to beauty products and museums.

Consumers are familiar with memberships and have been for a long while. People may recall the iconic American Express slogan, ‘Membership has its privileges,” which succinctly summed up the intrinsic value as well as status associated with being a part of an exclusive club. When well-planned and positioned, a spa membership confers this value to their guests and at the same time creates a revenue-building strategy for their bottom line.

For this article, I invite two of my spa colleagues to speak to the important benefits that spa memberships offer a spa brand and their clients.

“With increasing focus on self-care, membership allows spa guests to easily create a regular wellness routine at a savings or perceived value.”

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Alex Kremski (AK)

Alex brings over a decade of beauty and wellness experience, from managing collaborations at Conair to executing membership programs as VP of Marketing for The Red Door by Elizabeth Arden, an initiative that grew 28 spas nationwide. Currently, she is the Head of Marketing for Greenwich Medical Spa, where she is helping to lead the brand’s growth from 4 locations to 9 in the next 2.5 years. In addition to her marketing prowess, Kremski is also self-proclaimed skincare and fashion junkie and serves as a co-founder to two side hustles that will change the way you shop for skincare and women’s clothing.

Julie Robinson (JR)

Julie is a seasoned Spa Operations executive with over 25 years of experience creating operational efficiencies and financial success. She is a proven leader in building profitability and managing P&Ls. Her expertise includes start-up initiatives; recruitment, onboarding, team building and mentorship; product acquisition, inventory control, and retail strategy; internal and external-facing processes and solutions as well as a liaison between the executive team and local management.

What is the purpose or reason that a spa owner or brand should consider a membership?

AK: Spa owners should consider membership for many reasons. One of the main reasons to implement a membership program is that it allows the spa to drive guest behavior. In the case of monthly membership programs, we know that the member will be incentivized and, thus, more likely to come in for a service every month. Depending on additional discounts or member perks within the membership model, it also provides an additional incentive for the members to spend more or try a new service that they may not have if they were not members. At the end of the day, spas get a bigger beauty or wellness buy from each member then prior to their membership enrollment.

In today’s spa market, membership is the way of the industry. Guests are used to spa membership models like Massage Envy. People are also looking for easy solutions that allow them to fit self-care and wellness into their daily, weekly, and monthly routines.

JR: Regular guests are looking for membership. Membership gives them a sense of belonging and makes them feel special. For the spa, it creates a revenue stream and promotes repeat business. The goal is that while they’re using their membership, they will shop other departments and retail.

How does membership benefit the spa guest?

AK: With increasing focus on self-care, membership allows spa guests to easily create a regular wellness routine at a savings or perceived value. It also provides them with a variety of additional perks, for example, VIP status, priority booking, and more.

JR: First, it gives them value. A membership includes member pricing and other perks such as special pricing for other service categories or departments like facials or at the spa restaurant; gift with purchase opportunities; members-only events, and discounts on-site or at sister properties.

The bottom line is that the guest does not have to worry about opening their wallet every time they visit the spa because they have already invested in a membership that gives them consistent value.

What are the different types and structures of spa memberships?

AK: The simplest type of spa membership is a monthly or annual program that provides members with a dollar-off or percentage-off regular service pricing. This is a member vs. non-member pricing model. This is the most common model, allowing members to buy into a member commitment of 6 to 12 months, depending on the program. There are also membership models that allow members to buy-in for a one-time, flat fee.

Ultimately, three things are essential when deciding on a membership: 1. Decide on your spa goals and needs. 2. Have a clear understanding of your clientele and their needs. 3: Choose the right time frame, value package, and perks for the client.

For example, suppose you are a medi-spa where 60% of your customers are Botox purchasers and you know that they are only coming in 1x a year vs. the recommended 3x. In that case, a membership program that incentivizes and encourages Botox purchases with a savings might be something to consider. The additional perks and savings may also encourage them to try additional units, treatment areas, or different treatments altogether.

JR: In addition to monthly or annual memberships, there are some programs based on a specific treatment, fitness or service department, for example, a mani-pedi membership. Spas can offer mid-week memberships to promote traffic to the spa during slower times of the week. Find a structure that solves your revenue goals.

Would you say that a membership in some form is a must-have for a spa?

AK: Membership programs are an industry standard now. It needs to be part of doing business to stay competitive in the market. In addition, the popularity of self-care amongst the general population is ever-present and growing. Self-care and spa are no longer a once-a-year luxury or special occasion. It’s a necessity that people value as a routine need in their lives.

Resorts may be one spa type where a membership model is not a necessity due to the transient nature of its vacationing clientele. If a resort does not have frequent re-occurring clients, paying for a monthly or annual membership doesn’t make sense because the value isn’t there. Membership is built on the frequency of visit, so unless a resort spa has multiple locations across multiple states, the benefit to the spa guest is not there during a one-time visit.

JR: It depends on the facility and the business model. Membership would not make sense in a spa with very few rooms, say a one to a two-room facility. It would not be able to accommodate membership traffic. Membership cannot be complicated. It has to be easy to understand and gives the guest an easy opportunity to say yes. If a spa cannot make it easy for the guest to buy- in, then it is not a sound strategy.

What are some important steps to ensure the success of your membership?

AK: First, know your customer! Understand what they want, how they shop, what they spend. Next, make sure your membership has real value. The price point must reflect unquestionable worth and practicality to the guest. Finally, track your guest behavior. It is pivotal to track habits before and after membership enrollment so that you can see if there is an increase in frequency, retail spending, cross-department shopping, etc. If the membership does not deliver appropriate results and profit, then tweak it.

JR: Make sure that everyone on your team understands the membership offerings and the process. For example, the team must be able to explain the program. The verbiage must be consistent, and no one can deviate from this script. Also, make sure that the guidelines and procedures are in place and that team members get a chance to practice offering memberships to guests.

How do you market and grow your membership?

AK: Always start with current customers. Identify your loyal customers and their behavior and needs. It’s also the cheapest way to acquire members because they already love you. General managers should take time to approach each guest based on why the program would benefit them specifically. This creates a WOW and certainly makes potential members feel like a VIP.

Additionally, when I was the Marketing VP at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, 15% of all membership enrollment came from members that had never been to our spa before. This is huge and truly showcases the desire people have to make self-care a routine.

JR: Focus on referrals, word-of-mouth, and online reviews from your present customers to support marketing your membership.

What are your last words on membership?

AK: Membership can be a game changer for spa businesses. I encourage spas to do their research especially in their local markets. They could be sitting on a revenue opportunity that builds their business substantially, while also creating huge value for their clientele.

JR: Memberships can be a great revenue builder so if it works for your business model, it is a great way to add additional revenue without the need for additional labor.