In a gadget-filled world where digital technology is intrinsic to our everyday lives, spa operators are discovering that mobile tech has a whole host of operational advantages. Spa software firms are helping operators meet the growing demands of the digitally-dependent with their high expectations for mobile friendliness and 24/7 accessibility, yielding significant business benefits in the process.
Freeing up the front desk
Today’s spa customers expect to be able to access appointments at a time that’s convenient to them and smartphones, at the very heart of consumers’ digital lives, are taking the hassle out of the way people search, book, buy and even check-in and out for their spa experience. But the convenience can go both ways.
Book4Time offers responsive and native mobile apps for both consumers and spa operators. As CEO Roger Sholanki explains: “Our mobile responsive booking solution for consumers is used by all of our clients. In addition, our mobile check-in solution frees up the front desk allowing the spa reception to personally greet the guest and expedite the check-in process.”
The on-demand mentality which sees increasing numbers of customers more likely to book spur-of-the-moment treatments could be perceived as a ramping up of activity for spas. However, mobile technology can enable the opposite effect: increasing productivity by freeing up staff from busy reception desks and saving time on admin tasks, as well as giving them more opportunities to engage with guests face to face.
Charlotte Newton, EMEA marketing for Mindbody, says: “One thing that we often hear from our customers is that they want to be able to free themselves from the front desk more often, so they have the flexibility to take care of other aspects involved in running their business. The Mindbody business app gives users the power of Mindbody software on a phone or tablet, allowing them to run operations, such as scheduling, client info and check-in, point of sale and reporting capabilities, from anywhere, at any time.”
Frank Pitsikalis, founder and CEO of ResortSuite, sees the movement of spa staff to more face-to-face time with guests as a growing trend, facilitated by developments in mobile technology: “At least half of our customers are currently using our mobile technology, and that number jumps to at least 80 per cent when you include ResortSuite mobile-responsive web booking engine. Many of our prospective customers have come to us looking for an upgrade to using tablet technologies as they want to follow the trend of being in front of, and more engaged with their guests. Clients are excited to create and manage their own property-specific applications and make changes on the fly using the new CMS.”
Making staff mobile in every sense of the word is a sentiment that’s echoed by Malcolm Rennie, who’s the managing director of Concept Software Systems: “App technology makes operations easier and faster, and essentially allows operators to have a mobile workstation. This has the benefit of saving on staff data entry time, amassing business intelligence that’s easily accessible and a better customer experience.”
Concept client William Wesley Myers, regional director of spa, North America, for Langham Hotels & Resorts, explains the advantages of mobile tech: “In spa it allows management to have business stats and information readily to hand, and a constant awareness of guest count, treatments and revenue for any given day or time range, putting the KPIs for your spa business in your hand for easy reference at any time. And for guests? It enables them to use their smartphones within the spa to complete intake forms and questionnaires, and provide feedback upon check-out, eliminating the paper, additional time and manual labour that would have previously been spent updating their profile/history.”
The ability to locate business data at a click or a swipe significantly increases productivity. As systems and processes are increasingly digitised and automated, operations become more streamlined.
“The advantages for spas to go mobile are vast. It saves times, captures client data easily and ensures a smoother client journey,” says Premier Software’s chief operating officer Leonie Wileman.
Premier Software client Helen Bulman, spa manager at Acresfield Health Club & Spa, UK, says: “Mobile technology has streamlined many areas of the business making them more efficient. As everyone can access their diaries via the app, they know what they’ll be doing before coming to work, what availability they have and what they have coming up. It leaves little room for mistakes or misunderstandings.”
Approximately 80 per cent of The Assistant Company’s (TAC) customers use its mobile technologies. Managing director Günther Pöellabauer believes they enhance customer comfort, reduce waiting times and costs due to increased employee efficiency. “The TAC Webshop includes elements such as spa reservations, product and gift certificates sales, and a lounger booking facility, as well as our Kiosk feature. Using Kiosk technology, visitors don’t need to queue at reception and can book spa reservations on their own. In addition, sense. is our mobile spa management solution using touch optimised design and can be accessed via all popular web browsers and technical devices,” he explains.
Likewise, Amanda Wisell, marketing manager of SpaSoft says client feedback reveals one of the main benefits of using technology in spas to be in streamlining their operations. “Our online booking engine is mobile friendly to serve the growing numbers of consumers who are booking experiences on their smartphones and tablets. It’s an effective way to make the spa more efficient, offering mobile tools for providers, schedules, guest intake forms and reporting.”
With around 20 per cent of its customers using some form of mobile technology, Africa’s Spa Kalahari is reaping the rewards of a more streamlined business is. Wisell explains: “Spa Kalahari is using SpaSoft Wellness Forms. When a guest arrives to check-in, the receptionist hands them a tablet to complete the intake process electronically. Their information then automatically goes into the SpaSoft system eliminating data entry, ensuring that therapists receive crucial information in a timely manner and helping eliminate data errors by having guests review their own personal information.”
Managing the data
With changing data protection laws reflecting the previously unforeseen ways that data is now used, mobile tech is both the very agent of that change, and its champion and defender.
Concept has developed an iPad app so clients can complete membership data as well as sensitive questionnaires. Rennie explains: “Approximately 25 per cent of our customers currently use our iPad application. This has been increasing significantly over the past two years. Operators can save a lot of time by giving their clients the chance to complete their own profile data.”
As mobile technology continues to evolve, so too do the solutions and their capabilities. Premier’s Wileman explains how the company is addressing the issues around secure data: “In order to meet the needs of new data protection laws, Online includes an e-signature function so when a client visits the spa, they can check the information on their client card, sign to say it’s correct, as well as agree to how their data can be used for promotional purposes. Enabling clients to provide and update their own data removes errors and provides peace of mind.”
ResortSuite’s Pitsikalis believes that the concept of guests self-managing their own experiences is what will drive the next generation of hospitality technology. What’s more, with the potential for greater staff efficiency, a streamlining of operations and improved data security, putting mobile technology front and centre of the growing trend will define the next generation of software solutions.