“This is a love mission,” Lisa Michaelis tells me. “We’re not doing it because we think we’ll make gazillions from it—we’re not charging anything. We just feel if we can spread the message from a community standpoint, we can entice people, excite them in a celebratory way.” Michaelis, who made a splash in the spa industry when she launched Live Love Spa back in 2012, is referring to her new creation—the first annual Wellness Month that kicks off in August. Created to encourage consumers to “try out the wonders of aspirational spa-ing and healthy living,” Wellness Month aims to shine the spotlight on spas across the nation and to spread the message of health and wellness to the masses.
How did the idea for Wellness Month come to you?
The idea, the seed, started about a year or so ago. I was thinking, we [Live Love Spa] travel to all these amazing spas all over and work with great brands, and they’re always telling us about great treatments and experiences. How do consumers know about all this? I thought there has to be a way that we can really showcase what the spas have to offer—and then really make it easy, exciting, and inspiring for consumers to engage in it.
Right now, spas are doing marketing efforts to their current database, but there isn’t really a platform where they can showcase their services. I’m working with the spas I’ve built relationships with—we do over 20 events a year across the nation in major markets.
I thought there has to be a way that we can really showcase what the spas have to offer—and then really make it easy, exciting, and inspiring for consumers to engage in it.
Why a month of wellness?
I feel like a day is too short, a week is okay, and August is a good month, as it’s a slow time for spas. It also takes people a little bit of time to learn about something new and engage. Wellness Month will build momentum over time. For example, if you got an email from a place in Oregon, that’s celebrating Wellness Month, you may try something new you’ve never tried—but what else is going on for Wellness Month? You may be traveling to New York City and discover that another spa is offering cryotherapy, and you’ve always wanted to try that . . . If you think about it like Restaurant Week, people try restaurants they haven’t tried before.
Wellness Month gives the consumer some time to get engaged, and with anything health-related, it takes some time to change a habit. If this is the time you’re going to engage in a new kickboxing regimen, you could do that for some time to really engage in it. From a business standpoint, it takes time for spas to get their marketing efforts together.
Your focus is on spas, so why “Wellness Month” versus “Spa Month?”
It was hard to come up with a name. Honestly, I think it’s something that the end user, the consumer, can resonate with. I’m like you—a spa purist—and I want spas to be super successful, but I also understand from a marketing perspective that we need to make sure that consumers understand what we’re offering. Right now, I feel like a lot of people haven’t even been to a spa, so if we lead with the word “wellness,” I feel like the consumer will understand.
Tell me more about why you think a lot of people haven’t been to a spa.
You and I may find it hard to believe that some people haven’t gotten a massage or a facial, but I have so many friends who still feel spa-ing is kind of mysterious, and they don’t understand the benefits of it. I think their assumption is that it’s too expensive, or it’s only about pampering, or they don’t even know what they’re getting into—I’m going to be getting naked on a table . . . It’s our responsibility as an industry to really tell that story in a more modern up-to-date way and share with consumers how the benefits can really help them.
Sometimes it only takes that first spa visit. We actually encourage our team members to go to the spa. We give every employee $120 every quarter to try something. Sometimes I have to take them kicking and screaming, but when they come out, they say, Oh my God, that was incredible!
In fact, most of my team wasn’t in the wellness industry before, so there is often hesitation about trying something new, even if it’s good for you. Each week, I hear about some new, unbelievably creative and effective treatment—a high-intensity training or mindful movement class that our partners have come up with—but if no one ever tries them out, it’s all just words on a web page.
What’s the initial feedback you’ve received from spas?
We’ve had tremendous positive feedback. We have a lot of corporate relationships, from Hilton to Marriott to Red Door, a lot of big corporate chains have said, Yes, we’re going to embrace this. I think with anything new, anything we can do to help spread the word is helpful. Most spas already have a summer special offer; we’re saying, Here, submit it to us, so we basically have a free community online directory they can submit it to.
How are you going to market Wellness Month to consumers?
First and foremost, it’s a community effort. We are asking that every spa that participates also amplifies their own message. They’re going to email or put on social that this is their Wellness Month special. We have collateral for each participating business—t-shirts, bracelets, tote bags, hats, uniform pins, fans, and more—even sample press releases. We’re trying to make it easy to get involved. For our inaugural year, we’re hoping for several hundred participants in terms of spas. We also have four influencer events during August planned for LA, New York, and Chicago, and we’ll be doing some Facebook and Instagram advertising, as well as traditional digital advertising.
What do you hope to gain from Wellness Month?
To inspire consumers to experience something new, try something different, and learn about awesome products, as well. It’s multi-pronged: discover and learn about new experiences and book them; take action, go do it. This is not something that will happen overnight, it will take years of cultivating. My hope is that it will facilitate community, connection, and commerce.
To learn more, visit wellnessmonth.com.
Mary Bemis is Founder & Editorial Director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She is a pioneering spa journalist, most recently honored as one of the "Top 30 Influential Voices Transforming Wellness." She is an inaugural recipient of Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and was honored by ISPA with its distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She is a Global Wellness Day Advisor, and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.
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