January 2010

Top 10 Spa Trends for 2010

By Susie Ellis, president, SpaFinder, Inc.

SpaFinder predicts emerging trends and concepts that will shape the spa world in 2010 and beyond. A common thread among these trends is that every one represents a benefit to the spa-goer: Health, wellness, and the ideal spa experience will be easier than ever to achieve.

1) The New “P” Word. Goodbye, pampering. Hello, prevention. Well, not so fast. It’s more like, move over, pampering; hello, prevention. Against the backdrop of a raging healthcare debate, prevention is poised to be the new “it” word. But rather than replacing established industry concepts like pampering and wellness, it’s a sharp (and smart) refocusing of the conversation. Pampering, after all, speaks to the stress-reduction goal of most spa-goers, and that in itself is preventive. 

2) Year of the Hammam. With spa-goers increasingly seeking authenticity and that magical spa experience that also offers true results, the Middle Eastern hammam (hamam in Turkey) represents one of the hottest trends, albeit with a distinctly modern expression. This is the year people who’ve never heard the term hammam will hear it, and those already familiar with it will learn of new places to experience it.

3) Not “Going to,” But “Belonging to” a Spa. No longer a place where you “go” for the occasional treatment, spas are being re-imagined as places of “belonging” – not only literally, through the rise in membership programs, but also in the ways spas are being recast as social or communal hubs – contributing the additional benefit of emotional health.

4) The Online Spa. 2010 will be a watershed year for the spa industry’s virtual presence. Consumers are already finding spas online, booking treatments and classes online, printing out instant gift certificates, shopping virtual spa stores, and being influenced by online reviews, for just a few examples. But there is more to come. Get ready for having your health information automatically uploaded for online access by your spa or doctor, or for spas to use software to allow price variation much like that of the airlines.

5) The Hybrid Spa. The modern spa is increasingly a hyphenated affair, with spas incorporating far more fitness, fitness centers incorporating more spa, hospitals incorporating spa elements, and spas bringing in more medical doctors and specialists. It’s one integrated human body, after all, and the pure spa is on the decline, while the hybrid spa is busy inventing new you-name-it plugged-in hybrid models.

6) The Price Is (Still) Right. 2009’s

headline spa story was the industry’s aggressive response to the global recession and the focus on deals, deals, and more deals. While there’s a (cautious) consensus that the economy is in recovery, there’s great news for consumers: The spa bargains will continue apace, not only straight discounting, but also more innovative incentives designed to drive incremental revenue and retain loyal customers.

7) Wellness Tourism Wows. Make room for “wellness tourism,” a new term describing travel across borders for preventive services, diagnostics, spa and well-being vacations. The concept is increasingly poised to become the way we define our time away from home in the future.

8) Scary and Silly Spa Stories Drive Evidence, Science, and Standards. The fallout from heavily publicized spa horror stories—and the recession-driven consumer insistence on no-gimmick treatments with real, measurable benefits—will quicken a rising trend: the demand for evidence-based therapies, stricter industry standards, and greater transparency to help spa-goers separate the wheat from the chaff. Facts, evidence, and science that support industry approaches will move front and center, even at the cost of a few diamond facials.

9) Diversity at a Tipping Point. For years analysts have discussed how the spa industry has been attracting new demographics (men, teens, seniors, new ethnic groups). But in 2010 diversity has reached a tipping point: It has fully arrived, it’s here to stay, it’s done. Set to explode: With 78 million American baby boomers poised to enter their 60s, watch for “silver spa-ing” to take off.

10) Stillness. The modern human experience is an unprecedented amount of sensory overload, noise, media stimulation. We’re wired to the gills, spending nearly all waking hours in front of TV and computer screens—bombarded, texting, tweeting—now even on airplanes. With the spa as one of the last remaining sanctuaries of serenity, look for the industry to put a new emphasis on stillness. Spas will help clients move from busy-ness and overload to stillness. “Sounds” awfully good.

One thing these trends make clear: The future of the spa world looks bright, with ever more focus on emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness and making it available to more and more people worldwide.

This year SpaFinder’s 2010 Trends forecast were reported at a Webinar presented by UCI Extension’s Spa and Hospitality Management Certificate Program, which is offered online and features in-depth studies taught by industry professionals from all over the United States.

SpaFinder, the global spa and wellness resource, bases this report on analysis from a team of experts who visit thousands of spas each year, as well as ongoing consumer and industry research. For information about SpaFinder, please visit www.spafinder.com or for UCI Extension’s Spa & Hospitality Management Certificate Program, visit www.extension.uci.edu.