How To Make Sense Of The Mystery That Is Retail In Hotel Spas


For as long as I’ve been in the spa business, Hotel Spa Retail has been somewhat of an enigma to many within the industry.

Enigma – A person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand. (source: Oxford Dictionary)

Yup. That pretty much sums it up I think.

Some see Spa Retail as the bane of our existence. This is, after all, a profession that is about helping people, not selling them expensive skincare. Others see Spa Retail as a necessary evil in a way. A means by which we can increase our revenues in the face of ever tougher competition. Then there are those who won’t even use the word retail. These folks sell home care. Sounds much nicer, doesn’t it?

As with many things in life, Spa Retail, in and of itself, is neither a good nor a bad thing. It is whatever you make of it. For some clients it does indeed give them the chance to continue their experience at home. For others, it’s an annoying, hard sell at the end of lovely, relaxing experience.

Whatever side you fall on when it comes to Spa Retail, for most spas, it is part of what we do. If managed correctly, Spa Retail can be an integral part of both your business and the overall experience you deliver. It can be good thing for your customers and clients and for your bottom line.

Over the past few years I have shared my thoughts on Hotel Spa Retail in a number of different contexts. What follows, are a few of my key takeaways.

Online Spa Retail

Even the best retailers in Spa Land are usually only selling their Spa Retail in-spa. Very few ever go to the next level and offer their retail for sale online. Part of the reason for this is, I think, that their retail range isn’t exclusive to them. And if that’s the case, the manufacturer probably has their own online business in place. But that doesn’t necessarily have to stop you from doing it too. You have a direct relationship with the client. Maybe they would rather buy it from your online store, even if it isn’t the cheapest place to do so. You’ve earned their trust, so they may well prefer to spend their money with you. Here’s what I discussed back in Episode 19 of Trent365! – Online Spa Retail…

Retail First

In Episode 142 of Trent365! – Retail First, I suggested that Pop-Up retail spaces in hotels could be a great untapped opportunity. This concept is not one that need be restricted to Spa Retail alone. But there’s no doubt in my mind that with a bit of imagination, a hotel spa could do really well with it. Here’s what I said around about this time last year…

The New Face of Retail

Building on some of the things I discussed in that Retail First episode, I thought a bit more about hotels and retail. The regular turnover of footfall in hotels, make it a really interesting retail opportunity. Again, this is not just about Spa Retail. But again, hotel spas are definitely well placed to take advantage of the opportunity. Take a listen to Episode 155 of Trent365! – Hotels : Face of Retail here…

Footfall = Retail

The interesting thing about posting content every day, is looking back at the way my thoughts evolve. I initially had a thought about retail Pop Ups in hotels. From that, I realised that the key factor, footfall turnover, meant an even bigger opportunity than I initially thought. Then, a random story about BP petrol stations making retail a key pillar of their future. Why? No doubt at least in part because they realised they have the footfall. And ultimately, maybe an insight into Amazon’s approach to bricks and mortar retail stores. Take a listen to Episode 299 of Trent365! – Footfall = Retail…

Convenience or Choice

Occasionally I challenge Spa Managers about their retail sales performance. When I do, I usually get told that online retail is killing us. Nothing new there. It’s the same thing we hear from every struggling offline store. It’s mainly a convenience thing, most who want you believe. And it may well be. But online also adds an element of greater choice. With that choice, product uniqueness and quality come in to play. So maybe it’s not just convenience your customers are choosing. Maybe it’s choice. And maybe, just maybe, your thing just isn’t as good as you think it is? Take a listen to Episode 449 – Trent365! – Online Retail – Convenience or Choice? Here…

Like I said earlier, retail is still a challenge for many spas. And that’s ok.  I’m not even suggesting you must sell retail in your spa. But I do think that you’re missing out on an opportunity to enhance your business, on multiple levels, if you don’t. Whatever you decide, just make sure you’re making an educated and informed decision either way.

There may be many reasons…but there are no excuses.