If your salon or spa is in a hot vacation spot, every summer season you undoubtedly find yourself looking for creative ways to raise awareness about your business among seasonal clientele in addition to accommodating your existing customers.
Cultivating partnerships with local hotels and complementary businesses is a very effective way to do this – and now is the time to establish those relationships so you can reap the rewards throughout the summer season.
Hotel concierges and managers of smaller establishments like bed and breakfasts are always on the lookout for a quality spa or salon they can refer to their guests. If that spa or salon is your business, you get a new client who—if you nurture that relationship throughout the year—may return to your business when they visit again. However, convincing concierges and B&B managers to send you referrals requires building a relationship with them first.
The most effective way to do this is simple: Throw a party!
- Set aside a morning or afternoon and treat the concierge or hotel manager to free services—mini hand treatments, mini facials, mini massages—and give them a bag of products. You can wine and dine them by providing refreshments, too.
- Treat other hotel staff, such as doormen and women and members of the sales department. These folks can be an equally effective outlet for referrals since they interact with guests on a regular basis.
Some of these contacts might actually start coming to your business on a regular basis for themselves! If that’s the case, you might want to offer them a standing discount on certain services to win their loyalty.
Once you’ve established and continue to cultivate your relationships, hotel customers will trust you because the hotel trusts you. It’s called the halo effect. Customers should start coming your way. And you’ll be helping the hotel build a customer base by endorsing the hotel and its services.
Ultimately, you have to assure hotel managers that their guests will have a great experience and demonstrate that you appreciate their referrals. Over time, you can become an even more trusted resource for them by remaining flexible enough to accommodate short-notice requests or customized services.
Local businesses that sell complementary services or merchandise are another tremendous referral resource. Is there an accessories boutique, a florist, a jewelry store, a clothing store, or a shoe outlet near you? Could you form a relationship with the cosmetics and hair products sections of a popular department store in the area? These types of relationships could lead to a display in their store for your spa or salon while you publicize or refer their stores at your business. It doesn’t have to be involved or complex. Your partnership could be as simple as an exchange of posters or flyers. You can learn more about partnership strategies in our Destination Profitability Guide.
Here are some other ideas to consider:
- Similar to hotel managers, run an event a few times a year for these local business owners. Invite them into your salon, provide complimentary services, hand out a bag of products and treat them to some light fare.
- Suggest sharing email lists. Generally, this isn’t a permanent arrangement, but you could easily aggregate lists twice a year for an email blast during peak periods, such as the summer influx and the holiday season.
- Exchange vouchers to distribute to your top clients. For example, your voucher could provide a facial to a customer and, if they bring a friend, they both get free hand treatments or a 15% discount on retail purchases. Vouchers can be printed easily and tailored for short-term use—say, over a two- to three-week period. Just the right timeframe for vacationers.
- Think about how can you use your space and collaborate with others for your mutual benefit. For instance, invite a florist to set up in your lobby. First, it will make the salon smell great! But, more importantly, customers will have easy access and, together, your businesses can share walk-in traffic.
- Consider (if you have the space) establishing a childcare room with a full-time daycare professional. If clients can’t find a sitter—especially if they’re on vacation—they can bring their children with them if they need to.
Once these referral relationships are established, you’ll need an effective way to track them to see if you’re getting results – read that, new customers or increased bookings. A software system can help you see the impact of the vouchers or promo codes you’re distributing by tracking how many have been issued, how many have been redeemed and by whom. This will help you assess which relationships are your most profitable and worthwhile.
All of these approaches are great ways to build a sense of community among you and your fellow local business managers. By collaborating, you’re making your vacation spot more attractive. And—more to the point—you’re expanding your ability to satisfy your seasonal and regular clients.
Want to learn more about how to make the most of summer business? Check out our Destination Profitability Guide.
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