Online Spa School

Tech connects spa retailers to customers

Do you miss seeing customers in person? Though businesses everywhere are seeing fewer customers face-to-face, there are still ways to stay in touch and offer personalized spa service thanks to technology. Hosting virtual spa training events is one way to stay connected. Spa retailers are using webinars and one-on-one training to help customers get the spa maintenance help they need, all without stepping foot onto their property.

Webinars tend to be online seminars focused on one aspect, like changing a hot tub filter. These can be pre-recorded, or presented live in a Facebook group or on a Zoom call. However, a live version allows for more interaction with customers says Ben Poggemiller, a marketing consultant at Hungry Fox Marketing in Manitoba, Canada. “If you can get your face in front of customers and show your personality, expertise and ability to help your customers,” he says, “then of course it’s going to increase goodwill and sales.”

Webinars should always be focused on helping people solve a problem, Poggemiller says. “It should be clear what’s going to be covered in the webinar just from the title,” he says. “Anything vague, people will stay away from. If you focus on what’s in it for the customer, people will want to know the answers to their questions and will show up.” For example, Poggemiller says a dealer could cover hot tub maintenance essentials for first-time owners, insights into the buying process or chemical education sessions.

In the webinar, strike a balance between being helpful without neglecting the opportunity to make sales. “[You] don’t want to make people feel duped into a sales pitch,” Poggemiller says, so make sure the content is truly valuable and comes from a place of helping — then perhaps also make mention of a chemical bundle or another promo item.

Kathi Belcourt, a retail manager at Aqua-Tech in Winnipeg, Canada, offers special event pricing and time-sensitive sales on specific items during webinars. “We feel that, for the free information, the cost of listening to our sales pitch covers things,” she adds.

Webinar Best Practices

  • Market to your audience using email lists and social media.
  • People get busy and forget about online events they sign up for, so don’t market your event too far in advance. Send out friendly email reminders and calendar invites to encourage attendance.
  • Make sure all your notes and supplies are within reach so you’re prepared for your recording or live presentation. Do a trial run with your presentation and the technology.
  • At the end of the webinar, have a small pitch ready for your audience.

Since the pandemic started, Belcourt and her team have done one webinar — which they promoted as “Soak School” — and plenty of one-off consultations with individual customers via video calls.

 The Aqua-Tech team shared a previously recorded webinar before the pandemic, but never a live one. Being on camera for their recent live webinar pushed them outside of their comfort zone, says Belcourt, but they plan to continue doing it to help customers. Years ago, Aqua-Tech did on-site events and noticed that with families’ busy schedules, attendance was going down; keeping them going didn’t make sense. But since the company is education-driven and did not want to let anyone down, it began to offer recorded seminars. Since COVID-19, the live events have brought increased sales and a healthy challenge to the staff.

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“As we are getting more comfortable with the virtual presentation, it allows us to be invited in a passive way into the customer’s yard and space, yet still feels safe and like we are not intruding,” Belcourt says.

As for getting people to attend online events, it’s best to first start marketing to a current email list. Go for the low-hanging fruit, Poggemiller says. “These folks will know who you are and a little about your business, so there will be some goodwill and trust there.”

 Additionally, retailers can add signs around their store for walk-in customers, along with posting to social media accounts. If it’s in the budget, running paid ads on social media may be worth it, too.

Belcourt’s team uses easily accessible apps like FaceTime and Google Meet for conducting one-on-one consultations, which have quickly become popular among clients.

 “Doing a troubleshooting session is wonderful as we can see their water quality and equipment,” she says. “These [sessions] are more chemical questions and interpretation of water test results. They have really helped us sell more on our online store by putting the focus on topics that most folks would overlook on a water test that we would [normally] email to them.”

 Even when the world goes back to normal, Belcourt thinks her team will still offer webinars.  “This has changed and improved our basket of goods that we can offer,” she says, “and we will be doing more and more digital and virtual everything.”