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HomeColumnsSpecial FeaturesNew Spa Industry Stats and Trends- International SPA Association- July 2004

New Spa Industry Stats and Trends- International SPA Association- July 2004



The results from an in-depth report conducted for the International SPA Association provides hard numbers to back up the incredible growth being reported by spa professionals.



The key results of the ISPA 2004 Spa Industry Study and ISPA’s 2004 Consumer Trends Report.


  • The spa industry study was first conducted in 2000, updated in 2002 and now in 2004. The industry study is quantitative and it includes the key numbers- revenues, number of spas and visits.

  • The spa industry study was conducted by Toronto-based Association Resource Centre, Inc. Senior Consultant of Research & Strategy.

  • And – this is the first year for ISPA’s Consumer Trends Report. We are working with The Hartman Group of Seattle on this study, which is qualitative in nature.

  • The Hartman Group’s expertise is in achieving an in-depth understanding of consumer behavior by studying how people live – their environment, their lifestyle and their social networks.

  • We do want to emphasize again that you will learn the preliminary findings of the studies. The complete studies will be released in November during the 14th annual ISPA Conference & Expo.


ISPA 2004 Spa Industry



The key statistics from the ISPA 2004 Spa Industry Study:


  • There are an estimated 12-thousand spas in the United States currently, which is a 25 percent increase from 2002.

  • Day spas continue to be the largest category with some 8,700 locations in the U-S. That is a 20 percent increase in day spas since 2002. Resort/hotel spas remain the second largest category and club spas come in third.

  • The Northeast has surpassed the Southwest as the area of the U-S with the most spas. The Northeast has some 28-hundred spas which is a 36 percent growth rate in two years. The Southwest is second with an 11 percent growth rate since 2002.

  • 2003 revenues for the US spa industry are an impressive 11-point-one billion dollars. That’s up from 2001 when the amount was 10-point-7 billion.

  • With the continued growth, the spa industry remains the fourth largest leisure industry in the US. Spa industry revenues continue to surpass those of two very well-known industries – amusement/theme parks and motion picture box office.

  • Looking at revenues by spa type – day spas lead here with 5-point-4 billion followed by resort/hotel and club spas.

  • The number of U-S spa visits in 2003 was 136-million.

  • That number is down a little from the 2001 figure and here’s why – we are all crunched for time – as journalists, you no doubt can identify with the daily deadlines. Numerous recent polls -such as those by Gallup – show that those who are particularly time-deprived are parents of children under 18 and people who are employed. Those groups are the majority of spa-goers. Basically, the spa industry is still attracting millions of visitors and those individuals are now focusing on spending more time at the spa when they are there.

  • Spas are certainly helping people get their ‘time’ back by offering shortened versions of treatments that can be done on lunch breaks, teaching clients how to take the spa experience home and also offering massages in the workplace and during corporate retreats.

  • Taking a closer look – day spas had the majority of the visits with 81-point-2 million followed again by resort/hotel and club spas.

  • Spas in the U-S had an average of 11-thousand-600 visits each in 2003.

  • On average – each spa is reporting that 43 percent of their clientele is new to them – though, these guests may already be spa-goers. This year marks the first time we asked this question.

  • This year’s study found that men represent 23 percent of spa visits and last year’s consumer research determined that 29 percent of spa-goers are men. So, at 23 percent of spa visits and 29 percent of spa-goers – men continue to represent a significant portion of the spa market.

  • We continue to see more spas offering special treatments for men while spas for men-only continue to open in cities around the world.


Now to ISPA’s 2004 Consumer Trends Report.



The key emerging themes in the consumer spa experience we’re seeing are…


  • An enhanced interest in local and indigenous spa experiences. The Hartman Group expects this trend will continue for years to come and is likely to become mainstream. Spas and product suppliers that are able to leverage their geographic location and indigenous traditions will provide more distinctive and compelling spa experiences. Examples of this at spas around the country include – treatments incorporating grape seeds in Napa and Sonoma, cactus flower in the Southwest and maple in the Northeast. This also includes local traditions such as receiving a Lomi Lomi massage while in Hawaii.

  • The combination of massage and yoga – with pilates-like overtones – could push massage into the realm of ordinary fitness routines and bodywork for many people. Thai massage is an example here. Some therapists also note that the typical dress of loose-fitting clothing may appeal to those who are uncomfortable with the clothing issues associated with more traditional massage therapies.

  • The Hartman Group is finding an increased trend towards adult children introducing their parents to the benefits of spas. Gifts for anniversaries, birthdays and Mother’s and Father’s Day appear to be the catalysts for children sending their parents on an expense-paid visit to a spa. Gen Xers are removing the ‘old taboos’ of spa-going – such as it being a luxury or an unnecessary indulgence – and are teaching their parents the value of taking care of themselves from the inside out. Most of the parents we’re talking about here are baby boomers and those from the ‘silent’ generation. They are between the ages of 44 and 79. Within this trend we also find that parents are making a trip to the spa a ‘couples’ outing.

  • Hydrotherapy – For those who are nervous about massage, sensitive to facials, or are simply new to spas – hydrotherapy is an exciting gateway for the spa experience. Hydrotherapy appeals to both men and women as a simultaneously physical and emotional experience.

  • Keep it Simple – when consumers are dabbling in activities that are not part of everyday life – excessive choice can be overwhelming. Consumers appreciate spa menus that are simple, basic and short. Spa-users generally seek out dependable, reliable experiences that have a low risk of ‘wasting’ their time and money. Also, better loyalty emerges when the menu is simple, because it automatically necessitates that clients ask questions of their therapist. This kind of interaction can more easily form the beginning of an ongoing relationship – much like people form with their hair stylists.

  • Customization is increasingly becoming a point in consumers’ decision-making process. By keeping the menu simple, we just mentioned the importance of a relationship between therapist and guest. One way to reach out with a therapeutic, healing-oriented approach to spa going is to focus on customization during every service session. For example – a simple menu with massages of various lengths allows therapists to customize a healing regimen for each client. Therapist-driven customization is an effective way to make each client feel like they are being treated specially and individually.

  • Initiation into the World of Spas – Every activity has its beginners and its experts. In the world of spas, this beginning is generally a massage. While most consumers are excited at the prospect of feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, there remains significant uneasiness as to what is expected of them. During interviews with people who are relatively new to spas, many say they are confused and anxious about how to behave once they enter this unfamiliar space. They are essentially untrained in the etiquette of spa-going. Not surprisingly, the top of mind issue for many people is clothing, followed closely by questions relating to the ‘exit’ experience. Specifically, when one’s massage has just ended and the therapist extends an invitation to take your time getting up while they leave the room. Just how long is it acceptable for one to continue lying there reflecting on the experience? The emerging trend related to the initiation phase is that most people would feel more comfortable if they had more guidance and human interaction during their first steps into the spa experience. You – the media – can help us educate first-time spa-goers on what to expect. We are always happy to share answers for those frequently asked questions.
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