Trend Watch: The Spa and Wellness Revolution, MASSAGE MagazineWhile many consumers recognize a spa as a special place to be pampered and restored, spas have also become known for helping clients achieve an overall sense of health and wellness. This spa-wellness revolution has led to seven notable trends in spas today.

Go green
First, many spas are going green by conserving and recycling the resources they use. Consumers are becoming more interested in being eco-friendly and want to support businesses with a sense of environmental responsibility. Thus, spas that adopt a green policy have a greater chance of visibility and have an advantage in today’s competitive spa market.

Bottom line
Today, spas are paying more attention to profitability. Spas are still seeing growth, yet it is slowed due to increased competition in the marketplace as well as the current economic downturn. For these reasons, spas have placed a greater focus on the bottom line. Therapists who can communicate to their employer a plan for how they can help the bottom line by taking an active role in practice management and building their clientele have an advantage over those who simply leave it to the spa’s owners and managers—who may not know the client as well.

Pain management
A third trend is consumers visiting spas not only for pampering and relaxation, but also for pain and stress management. Some clients require deep-tissue massage, especially those who are active and choose massage therapy to focus on correcting a specific problem. A deep-tissue massage helps clients recover more quickly and perform at full potential. This is achieved by removing lactic acid from the muscles to increase range of motion, reduce muscle tension and increase blood flow. Massage therapy also helps alleviate pain for clients with upper back and neck tightness from frequently sitting over a computer, talking on the telephone, driving and carrying heavy bags.

Meri Martin, a licensed massage and bodywork therapist at latria Spa & Health Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, says the focus of her massage therapy practice has shifted to pain and stress management, including issues of tension and migraine headaches. “We are treating old injuries that cause trouble because of stored tension throughout the body. My clients have a greater need for bodywork because of the increase in stress in soft tissue.”

Stress relief
While some spa clients are turning to massage to alleviate pain, a fourth trend in spa wellness is many clients want a massage simply to relieve the stress they are feeling during these difficult economic times. According to Jennifer Lantry, a licensed massage and bodywork therapist at latria Day Spa in Cary, North Carolina, “I believe the biggest trend right now is that more and more clients are telling me they are stressed because of the economy and they really need a massage in order to relax and to forget about their problems. This is a way for spa clients to quickly escape for at least one hour, and it is much cheaper than going on an exotic vacation. According to the 2008 Massage Therapy Consumer Survey, 59 percent of Americans report that they are more stressed this year than they were a year ago.”

Advanced education
Many therapists are taking spa management courses via the Internet at such schools as the University of California, Irvine Extension or technical courses at such programs as the Bellus Academy in San Diego, California. Therapists are also continuing their education to learn about the latest pain-management techniques and medical massage therapies. When the economy recovers, these therapists will be positioned to attract more business because clients, especially those visiting a spa for the alleviation of pain, desire the most knowledgeable therapists.

Many spas have seen a decline in gift certificate sales due to client skepticism. Spas solve this challenge by offering alternatives to gift certificates, such as membership programs, special monthly promotional offers or other regular programs, to bring new, first-time clients into the spa and build long-term client loyalty. Martin has not seen the decline in business in today’s economy. She attributes this to the fact many of her clients are on memberships. “Our membership program gives them the comfort of knowing they are saving money and as a result, most actually come in more than once a month,” she says.
New technology
And finally, one of the most important new trends in spa wellness is spas are now experiencing increased popularity in using state-of-the-art skin-care imaging systems and diagnostic aids. From teens to aging baby boomers, everyone wants to look and feel better. To achieve this, spa clients want authentic and credible skin-care products and procedures. They want to be absolutely certain they will achieve positive results.

Imaging devices measure the skin on several different levels to show clients how their skin looks before and after applying professional skin-care products. These specialized machines allow spa clients to be confident in products that will correct their individual skin problems before they purchase these products for use at home between spa visits.

Erika Mangrum, MASSAGE MagazineErika Mangrum is a respected spa industry entrepreneur, consultant, author and educator. Mangrum is managing director of business development, USA at IntuiSkin, a subsidiary of MEMSCAP with headquarters in Durham, North Carolina. She also serves as chairman of the Board of Iatria Spa and Health Center, the Raleigh-based, medically-orientated spa she founded in 1999. In addition, Mangrum co-authors and teaches a marketing for the spa and hospitality industry course at the University of California, Irvine Extension where she also serves on the Department’s Spa and Hospitality Management Advisory Board. For information on University of California, Irvine Extension’s advanced spa management education, call (949) 824-2033 or visit For more information on Mangrum, IntuiSkin or Iatria Spa & Health Center, call (800) 272-5502, (919) 314-2214, e-mail or visit