If you own or run a spa, and you want to start a membership or a loyalty program, one thing is paramount to keep at the front of your mind:
A membership program and a loyalty program are not the same things.
They involve different levels of financial commitment, they should deliver different levels of reward to your guests, and they should be constructed and managed in entirely different ways.
The reason we put that front and center here is that too many people – spa managers and spa guests alike – think they’re the same. That means it will eventually be your job to explain why they’re not the same, and how each of them works.
And yes, if you want to make the most of your spa, give your guests the best time and keep them coming back time after time, you really should have both.
Here’s the key difference in how to think about memberships and loyalty programs.
Your membership program is your bread and butter, your steady income, your keep-the-lights-on money.
Your loyalty program is how you turn one visit into six, and how you build years of repeat customers from less frequent visitors.
The Makings of a Spa Membership Program
In a spa, a membership program means a guest pays a fee on a regular basis (whether that’s monthly, quarterly or yearly).
For that regular payment, they get access to a specific number and range of services, treatments and/or even products, outlined in their membership program literature when they join.
Everyone wins with a membership – your guests get advance confirmation of what they can do, and keep coming back to take advantage of the membership benefits for which they’ve pre-paid.
Meanwhile, you get a guaranteed income, meaning you can breathe a little easier when the power bill, the water bill, and the massage oil bill come in.
Creating A Spa Membership Program
Any spa can have a membership program, but you need to hit 8 big steps if you want to do it right and guarantee your spa some income.
Outline your program
What do you want to offer your members? What’s special about your spa that could make them want to give you advance money? Take a look at your overall offering, and build your membership by figuring out what you can offer as a package to your members.
Don’t over-specialize; you want to open the membership offer to every potential member out there.
You need to think about access, a range of options, potential membership events, and a mixture of special elements that make your members feel like their membership is worth the money you want them to pay you.
Work out your pricing
You can give your members access to the whole store if you like, but if it doesn’t pay you to do it, all you’re giving them is a license to cost you money.
Work out the pricing of your membership offering. That’s by no means as easy as we make it sound. To your members, it should feel like they’re getting a generous bargain. To your bottom line, it should ideally cost you less than the overall.
Wherever you can, focus on adding value to the offering for your members, without necessarily adding cost to your business.
Create a sense of “specialness” about your membership, and don’t get hung up on price alone – trying to compete with every other spa in the area on price is madness, and a madness that will cost your business at that.
If you have a lot of members, and they each have a membership offering that involves having access to a range of facilities, treatments, and/or products, you’re not going to be able to manage that effectively with a pen and paper system.
You’re not, in all fairness, going to be able to manage it in a generally available software like Word or Excel. You’re going to need a computerized membership management system that can help you keep track of your members, what they’ve used and the benefits of which they’ve taken advantage.
Beyond that, a membership management system should be able to show you the rate of added membership, membership retention, membership renewal, and even membership loss – that allows you to follow up and manage those memberships, even finding out why people have dropped their membership, and what might tempt them back without costing your business too much.
You can run a membership program without a membership management system, but it’s the business equivalent of running a mile with your shoelaces tied together – full of cluelessness and constant stumbling.
Don’t do it if you want to run your membership program effectively.
Keep track of your members’ regular payments
You don’t want to be in the situation where you have to waste time manually checking the payments that come in from your membership, chasing payments, querying memberships, and double-checking what’s been used.
Again, set up an automatic membership management system, and ideally link it into automatic payment tracking.
An automatic payment tracking system should send you notices if and when payments fail and give you automated options to query and recover lost or late payments.
Put some guidelines in place
With any program that goes into the future, with a lot of different people and their situations involved, you’re going to run into any number of “What if-?” situations. Or rather, your staff are going to run into them.
That means you need to do two things. You need to write some very clear guidelines for members on how the membership works, so they’re as clear as they can be before they join.
And you need to work with your staff – initially getting them to throw hypotheticals at you, and work out what would happen in the event of each hypothetical. Then you write up an easy-reference guide for staff in case they run into the situations you’ve all identified.
Put it somewhere electronically, like your website, so staff can access it and search it easily. And importantly, manage a regular updating process, so you can add to the Frequently Asked Questions with real-life examples as they happen to your staff.
Launch your program – and market it intelligently
Market your membership program locally, and make sure you have all the marketing materials you need – membership cards, posters, website and social media updates with unique imagery, etc.
Train your team
A membership program is all very well in theory, but your staff needs to be up-to-date and know how to operate it otherwise, you’ll just irritate potential members. Make sure everyone knows what the membership program covers, so they can implement it flawlessly – or as flawlessly as is realistic.
Track take-up and usage
Make sure you track the success of the launch and maintain records of how members use their memberships. That will not only let you know how the launch goes, but also give you ideas on how to keep your members engaged and renew their memberships over time.
Ideally, where possible, construct an email program that keeps your members aware of the benefits they get from their membership from time to time.
The Makings Of A Spa Loyalty Program
Loyalty, in spa terms, is all about repeat business. Guests who don’t get enough use of the spa to join the membership program, but who you’re glad to see, and who you reward for their return business whenever they come through the doors.
That means you have to work out what rewards they get, and at what points in their relationship with your spa. You can offer a number of different rewards – smaller ones if they choose to use their reward privileges early, and larger ones if they “save up” their privileges to be used later.
Special discounts, free products, special guests events, the scale and frequency of those rewards is really up to you.
You can also use the reward program in a bigger single-impact way – giving your loyalty program members a big bonus if they get a friend to commit to a membership or regular use of your spa, for instance.
If you have a loyalty program management program, you can use it to upsell to specific guests, too. If they frequently get a seaweed mud scrub, you can surprise them with a free scrub on their sixth occasion, for instance.
If they regularly buy a small bottle of honey and coconut moisturizing milk whenever they come, tailor their rewards to include that product, so they feel engaged, and like they’re in a real relationship with your spa.
Loyalty Helps You Upsell
Loyalty programs are a golden way to upsell your products to the people you already know use X or Y services or products when they come.
While it looks – and to some extent, is – a relationship-building exercise, it’s also a way to cement their relationship with your spa, your treatments, your therapists, and your products.
What’s more, if people feel they’re getting a little something extra, or even something for free, they feel valued in the transactional relationship, and they’re more likely to spread the word to their friends, neighbors, and colleagues about how well they’re treated at your spa.
Again, having a system in place to recognize existing loyalty program members who ‘bring in’ new members can really work in your favor here.
How To Create A Spa Loyalty Program
First, get to know your customers. Both in-person through any feedback from your staff, and in data, by what they use and what treatments they get, you can build up a picture of your loyalty program members.
A loyalty program management system should be able to crunch the data for you in quick time and give you profiles of who is who and what they like.
It should also be possible to automate a special reward email to make them feel especially valued, by honing in on the treatments they book or the products they use.
Be clear about what you want your loyalty program to achieve for your business.
Then design your loyalty system. Whether it’s an air miles system or a supermarket points system, or even a coffee shop card-stamping system, make it easy to understand and easy for your guests to claim their rewards.
Remember to train your staff in the way the system works, so no one is a deer in the headlights when presented with a loyalty program request.
Run your membership and loyalty programs simultaneously, making as much use of computer membership data management systems and staff training as possible, and you should be reaching out to both long-term members and loyal return guests before you know it.