NEW YORK — Spa Week is back — bigger, better and, well, it’s about to go bi-coastal.
The weeklong promotional blitz for the spa industry, which kicked off April 18 and will run through April 24, proved to be so successful its first go-round last fall that this week’s promotion reached beyond New York City and also was featured in New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia. The next show, scheduled for September, will expand to include spas in Los Angeles, and in October, it will branch out to other markets on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
When Spa Week was introduced here last fall, it featured about 25 New York-area spas (with 12 additional spas added to the roster at the last minute due to high demand). This time around, Spa Week featured more than 90 spas. The brainchild of Cheryl Reid and Christina Castro, the co-principals of C&R Media, a marketing and public relations firm that specializes in the spa, wellness and beauty industries, Spa Week is based on one simple principle: the thrill of the bargain. Spa owners pay a fee to C&R Media to participate in Spa Week and, in turn, consumers can choose from a variety of treatments at participating salons — from hot stone massages to reflexology treatments — for a mere $50 each, which at times represents a mere fraction of the service’s regular cost, according to Castro.
“This event is a big deal for spas because advertising can be very expensive,” said Castro. “It allows [spas] to drive in new clientele and brand their business in a cost-effective way.”
However, while many of the spa owners said they saw significant increases in traffic and bookings, few saw a substantial, if any, increase in profits. “Increased traffic doesn’t necessarily mean increased revenue because we’re doing these services at cost,” said Bruce Schoenberg, co-owner of the Oasis Day Spa, which has three locations in New York and was one of the original spas to participate in Spa Week last fall. Schoenberg added that he plans to participate again, partly because he believes programs like Spa Week take time to really take effect. “The longer Spa Week is around, the more people will be aware that it exists, so it will be more of an exponential growth.”
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Stefani Hildenbrand, vice president of marketing for Exhale Spa, which has locations on the Upper East Side and in Midtown, is new to Spa Week. “The services we offered are very high-end, decadent and unique, so we don’t see much revenue because we discount them so deeply,” she said, adding: “Attracting new customers is really the main advantage for us.”
Hildenbrand decided to hop on board the Spa Week bandwagon because of the advantages the promotion offers, in terms of increasing the visibility of a spa like Exhale. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to reach a different group of people that we don’t generally outreach to because we have limited resources as far as advertising,” she said. When asked whether Exhale would participate in Spa Week in the fall, Hildenbrand replied: “Definitely.”
However, some of the smaller, newer spas say the promotion does feed revenue. Kristen Haines, the owner of Euphoria Spa in TriBeCa, said that sales “numbers have tripled” during Spa Week, citing that many customers are purchasing products that go along with treatments. Janis Chakler, spa director and aesthetician at Restore Spa on the Upper West Side said that she has seen a “45 to 50 percent increase on the retail end.” Chakler also noted that products were selling well. In turn, both Chakler and Haines were extremely enthusiastic about participating in the next Spa Week.
And, while it is already scheduled to expand to Los Angeles and beyond in the fall, both Reid and Castro see the potential of Spa Week as limitless, mostly because of the overwhelming positive response by consumers, who, they said, have turned out in the thousands. “Consumer demand just keeps growing and growing, and we’re going to be targeting all of the cities in the country,” said Reid. “We don’t sleep much — this is a pretty big monster, but it’s a good monster.”
To help promote Spa Week this time around, Reid and Castro enlisted the help of Allure magazine (which, like WWD, is a unit of Advance Publications Inc.) as a sponsor. In addition, Cosmetic Executive Women, an organization for female executives in the beauty industry, helped promote Spa Week via their database of beauty-related members and contacts. Additional corporate backers included skin care brand B. Kamins and spa brand I-Bella. Castro said C&R Media will donate a portion of the proceeds of Spa Week to Cancer and Careers, a nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for working women with cancer.