Making the Most of Massage: Evaluating Techniques and Add-ons to Improve Services

Written by Ann Brown

When asked what comes to mind when thinking of the spa industry, many would answer with words such as “wellness,” “relaxation,” and “health.” Ideally, these are the very objectives that sit atop the priority lists of spa owners, massage therapists, and anyone else providing in-house services for their clients. These are reasons why many professionals go into this business in the first place – to help people embrace the value of self-care and begin living fuller, healthier, more intentionally focused lives.

Despite this established priority list, however, the spa industry itself is far from static. From innovative products to new techniques to creative approaches to designing a spa menu, today’s spas are flush with creativity. The ability to balance tried and true techniques with new methods can be the difference between businesses that barely last a year and those that are still thriving more than a decade later.
So, how does a professional go about adding a creative spin to their business? Read on to see how a few minor, focused changes might shape the future of a spa. Before long, a professional might find that incorporating new massage techniques or embracing valuable add-ons opens a world of possibilities.

IT ALL BEGINS WITH INTENTION
Before addressing the kinds of products and massage techniques that are worth adding to round out a spa’s menu, as well as the business overall, it is important to remember the value of intention. Each and every spa experience should be intentionally crafted, with everything from the music to the products to the lighting skillfully chosen to maximize overall benefits.
For every decision made, the spa owner and spa team should be acutely aware of the intention behind it. Is a new product being chosen because it streamlines the back-office functionality? Have adjustments been made to the treatment room because of the value it adds to clients’ experience? Are hard decisions being made because, in the long run, they will allow the business to thrive? Sometimes, identifying the intention is as easy as focusing on what is immediately next. But, sometimes, it is about projecting farther ahead. Odds are, if the spa keeps making the decisions that best serve your clients and make the owner proud, it is already on the right track. Of course, intentions are flexible, so, if the business, at some point, begins veering off course toward an ill-assigned or outdated intention, stop and regroup.

NEW TECHNIQUES
Where to start? If the possibilities seem endless, it is because they are. The industry is flush with great ideas and, because spas rely on a carefully chosen combination of products and services, there are hundreds of ways to combine them for varying degrees of benefits. When considering adding a new massage technique, for example, ask these questions:

  1. What do I love about the current massage technique?
  2. What do I dislike about the current massage technique?
  3. How might a change in technique better serve clients?

Spa industry conferences and events are great places to learn about new techniques, as are peers and trusted mentors. Clients can also be great sources of inspiration – they will be glad to tell what services they wish the spa had or what they hear their friends are loving somewhere else.

GET CREATIVE
As mentioned earlier, creativity abounds in this industry. For highly skilled spa owners and massage therapists, creating personalized techniques (based on trusted methods and research) is an exciting possibility that, when done correctly, could benefit clients tremendously. Health and safety protocols should be followed first and foremost. It is also essential to know the products inside and out. Make sure to know how and where they work best. Would a new treatment table add to the clients’ comfort? What is the best length of time for the massage to be delivered? The development stage might feel slow, but that attention to detail is what helps hone the craft.

Improved Equipment For Improved Technique
Sometimes, switching up equipment can improve the massage technique, even if the nuts and bolts of the protocol remain the same. When looking around the treatment room for areas to improve that will flow into the overall technique and delivery, here are some things to consider.

  • Delivery: If providing massage with stones, a proper warmer can work wonders when it comes to improving technique. Look for warmers that will hold enough stones for the treatment, so massage therapists are never left waiting for warmed stones once the massage has started. Warming carts are another great addition because they keep stones warm and ready for the next client. Warming trays are also helpful because they allow more flexibility in moving the stones where they are needed without losing heat.
  • Ambience: Take a minute to consider the room’s ambience. Music plays an important role in this. Keep it calm and relaxing – let it reflect how clients should feel. Also, be sure to keep the room at a comfortable temperature (this varies from guest to guest, so check with the client during treatment to ensure they are comfortable). Finally, consider other ways to enhance ambience. Salt lamps are one easy addition that emits mood-boosting ions into the treatment room, adding to clients’ overall balance.
  • Wellness: Consider the potential toxins and chemicals clients are being exposed to. It is a given that equipment must be cleaned frequently and between every use, but that does not mean it is necessary to rely on harsh cleaners. There are many products available that kill germs and disinfect without toxic chemicals, so do research before purchasing.

VALUE IN ADD-ONS
Another creative way to enhance technique while boosting the client experience is offering valuable add-ons to the treatments already provided. Add-ons simultaneously increase value for the business and clients because, along with making clients happy, add-ons mean increased revenue. Here are some to consider.

  • Extended Time: Many clients will pay for the chance to stay in a treatment for a few minutes longer. If the massage lasts 50 minutes, consider offering clients the option of extending that service to 60 minutes. Massage therapists can take that extra time to focus on the ears, scalp, and feet. Clients will feel heightened relaxation, with minimal cost to the professional.
  • Special Equipment: There are many amazing pieces of equipment available to spa industry professionals but not to the general public and clients love the opportunity to use equipment at a spa they cannot use anywhere else. Another great add-on to offer to a massage is a massage table topper. For an additional charge, clients can relax on a warm, comfortable surface as their therapist provides their massage.
    Although a table topper comes at a larger cost to the spa owner, the table can also be used as a standalone treatment, increasing its overall value. Even without the massage, clients will benefit from 25 minutes of lying on the table topper.
  • Added Treatment: Clients want to get the most out of their visit to the spa and one way to help them do that is by allowing them to purchase add-on treatments at a reasonable cost. Help them peruse the spa menu to decide what treatments go well together. A Himalayan salt stone manicure, for example, is a great add-on to a Himalayan stone massage and allows ample time to soak up the nutrients and benefits of the Himalayan salt.

It can also be helpful to stock certain products for retail purposes that will allow clients to continue their spa experience at home. Bath salts, exfoliation treatments, and salt lamps are just a few of the many products available that will keep clients happy between treatments.

EMBRACING THE INNOVATORS
With so many great massage techniques and products available today, it is an amazing time to be working in the industry. Demand for treatments that enhance wellness, provide greater balance, and improve clients’ abilities to find peace amidst their busy lives is at an all-time high and professionals are fortunate to have a great many innovators in the midst who are bustling to meet that demand. No matter how well a spa is doing, there is always room for improvement, and professionals owe it to themselves to never rest on their laurels.

So, embrace innovation, whether personal or that of peers, with a willingness to try new things and explore new ideas. As long as clients’ wellness is at the center of the quest for change, the journey will be well worth it.

2019 Ann BrownWith more than 25 years of experience in nearly every aspect of the resort spa business, Ann Brown, CEO and founder of Saltability, is an industry veteran whose expertise extends from licensed cosmetologist, aesthetician, nail technician, and massage therapist to accomplished spa director and business manager. In 2014, she founded Saltability to answer the need for a better treatment in the spa industry and conceived a line of chemical-free and eco-friendly, pure Himalayan salt products. Located in Boca Raton, Florida, Saltability is the spa industry’s leading, global provider of quality Himalayan salt stone treatments and products for resort, day, medical, and destination spas.

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