Automation and Technology

Why Automation and Technology are Vital to Industry Growth

By Mia A. Mackman

One of the biggest challenges we are facing in the Spa and Wellness industry is replenishing our talent pool with a constant flow of new members into the workforce. This is a budding crunch. We are seeing signs of this across all aspects of the industry in spa management, education, technical training and licensed providers.

There’s no question, Spa and Wellness have grown at an unprecedented rate over the last decade. This has made it a task to manage day-to-day operations and challenging to deploy new innovations. As the industry continues to evolve, the demand to keep up and stay relevant is unending. The ability to acclimate to new circumstances is crucial.

The Global Wellness Economic Monitor released by the Global Wellness Institute in January 2017, reported the spa industry is paced to grow an additional 6 percent by 2020. While industry growth is clear, it’s becoming evident we may lack the employee verve to sustain this continued trajectory.

Even if we see a spike in program development, it can take years to develop leadership skills, refine the craft of providing quality services and initiating advanced training. The call for increased education and career development, is now.

Applications and Tools

In March 2014, I wrote an article for Professional Spa and Wellness, titled Technology Test. In that article, I aimed to highlight the increasing demand to integrate new technologies. While the industry has continued to grow since then, the urgency and need for clever automation and technological integrations have spurred on as well. In many ways, these new tools have become essential components of doing business today.

Automation assets are progressively showing up in stride with calls to streamline invoicing and aid in product purchasing. There are also constantly evolving platforms and applications for POS processing and appointment setting.

As real-time fitness applications and wearable device use increases in popularity and choice, this furthers new demands for advanced technology in the personal fitness sector. We are seeing this in new equipment, fixtures and furniture, as well as personalized keyless solutions.

No-Touch and Versatility

While spa is a considered a high-touch environment, there are plenty of people who choose not to visit a spa based on the fact they are uncomfortable being touched. The National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. stated in a report “Touch is a powerful tool for communicating positive emotions. However, it has remained unknown to what extent social touch would maintain and establish social bonds.” With a perceived view of vulnerability, many people avoid the entire experience of a spa, due to their discomfort and unwillingness to be touched.

Adding technologies that focus on delivering deep relaxation through services that require low to no-touch, provides an excellent alternative to engage and support this type of customer. It also represents a smart auxiliary provision to diversify treatment menu options with advanced and unique choices.

Some of these assets include various aspects of Halotherapy (salt therapy), float tank systems, and frequency devices using light and color. Audio and visual tools that support neurological balancing and stress relief are also excellent applications. In addition to these, virtual reality devices are another way to create an unforgettable no-touch experience for people.

The scope of these services come with a wide range of benefits. They can be proposed in place of a conventional service, offered separately or introduced as bookends as pre-treatment/post-treatment, add-ons and/or to help manage appointment scheduling. Making the decision to invest in these added resources not only comes with a solid return on investment but if properly promoted, ROI can be swift and substantial.

Empowering Guests and Providers

 The ability to provide a broader spectrum of new services introduces clients to new experiences and different ways to find relaxation and reprieve in an intimate spa setting.  A growing number of customers are also seeking new and next-level experiences in their search for transformation and relief.

Another added benefit of automation and technology, is the support it provides in-house therapists and hands on providers. These new channels can help moderate their daily service flow from one intense treatment to the next. From an operational standpoint, they can ease the transition and transiency of rotating staff and alleviate tension during manual labor shortages.

Being that the industry is aligned to see tremendous growth in the years to come, it’s mission critical to adopt new views about increasing automation and technology. I joined the Global Wellness Institute, Global Career Initiative this year to help support Spa and Wellness Career development. However, with highly active industry growth, it is essential to evolve perceptions beyond that of touch to ways we can support progress and back the growth of spa and wellness in all areas.

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“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~Albert Einstein