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As you’ve heard me say with great frequency, time is money. This is especially true in an appointment-driven spa business model, where selling time slots is your primary daily business objective. While reserving spa treatments can be complicated, especially for first-time guests who have a lot of questions and need some guidance, your bread-and-butter regulars are looking for a quick, convenient way to rebook appointments every six to eight weeks. Online spa booking provides that convenience.
Still hesitating on the sidelines when it comes to booking appointments online? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about online spa booking, along with a few compelling statistics that will ease any concerns you may have.
Opportunity for Your Spa
As I mentioned, booking spa treatments is a time-consuming activity. If your customer service representative has a first-time prospect on the phone who’s interested in learning more about your spa, that’s not going to be a brief phone call. In fact, it is likely that staff member will be chatting with the prospect for 8-10 minutes, explaining all of the various treatment options, giving advice on how to best prepare for their spa treatments, collecting personal information and answering logistical questions.
Now imagine what would happen if 30-40% of your bookings with regular clients disappeared from your phone queue. How much extra time would that give your customer service staff to focus on educating new guests, helping clients in person, and upselling retail and add-ons? Online bookings can give you the extra time you need to provide exemplary service on the phone and in person.
Concerns about Online Booking
You may be thinking that spas are high-touch businesses relying on personal connections, and you would be right. But that’s not a reason to say no to online spa booking. You can allow your regulars to book online, but by all means have first-time guests connect with your concierge. And while an online booking system will send automatic confirmation emails, there’s no reason your desk staff can’t make confirmation phone calls as well, especially to guests who may not have visited in awhile. This practice will create an opportunity for personal connection, not to mention adding upsell potential.
Online Booking Logistics
Some spa owners worry that enabling online booking means sharing their entire appointment book with the guests (or worse, their competitors). Luckily, online bookings don’t work that way.
When booking an appointment online, your clients will be guided through a multi-step selection process. After asking whom the appointment is for, they’ll be prompted to select the service, day, time, and service provider they prefer, and then the system will return a list of available time slots. It will not, however, show your entire appointment book; prospective guests cannot see who else will be in the spa that day, or what other treatments your providers will be engaging in. You can also select which types of services and which time slots you make available for booking online if you want to reserve some openings for walk-ins or need clients to call in to book more complex services.
Once the client has chosen a service, provider, date and time, they’ll be asked for their credit card information to hold the appointment. Their card will only be charged if you’ve stipulated late cancellation or no-show fees in your cancellation policy, which they can read before entering their payment method. Once they complete their booking, they’ll receive an automated email confirmation. They’ll also receive a reminder via email or text prior to their appointment date.
Most online booking systems allow you to customize any step in the booking process so you can provide the exact online booking experience you want your clients to have.
Convenience for Your Customers
For regular clients, online bookings can actually decrease the amount of time between appointments. Since online booking is quicker than trying to call during the day when your spa is open, customers are more likely to book on a more frequent basis. While of course you want clients to pre-book before leaving your spa, they’re not always able to commit to their future schedule at that time. Online bookings can provide a convenient way to close the gap.
Additionally, schedules are not what they used to be. We’re not operating in a 9-5, Monday-Friday world anymore; clients are traveling across time zones and working at unconventional times, which makes it difficult to call and book an appointment during normal business hours. In fact, one 2014 survey showed that 35% of clients actually preferred to schedule appointments outside of business hours. It’s much smarter to let customers book an appointment while they’re thinking about it, when it’s convenient for them, than relying on them to call back during business hours.
Online Booking Metrics
In the same survey mentioned above, 90% of respondents said they prefer to book appointments online. 90%! That’s too large a number to ignore. Another compelling statistic is that almost 50% of surveyed businesses grew when they offered online booking. In addition, many businesses say that when clients complete their own bookings online, the likelihood of no-shows or cancellations drops, thus ensuring your spa utilization rate will be maximized.
All of these metrics tell a positive story about online bookings. If you’re considering taking the plunge in 2015, there’s no better time than the present! Learn more about how online spa bookings can work for your business.
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