Printed from : LMD

09 Aug 2013

Emotional engagement
   BY Katie Barnes

Incredible spas resonate with guests at a deep level, filling their senses and engaging their emotions in a way that makes the experience powerful, profound and pleasurable. Yet given that the industry aspires to engage mind body and spirit, too many spas are just plain dreary.

In this year's Spa Business Handbook, we present our annual trends – newly branded as Spa Foresight™ (see p114) – and suggest spas could make stronger bonds with guests if they were more mindful of the importance of emotional engagement. There are many ways to engage the senses and prompt an emotional response – some low-tech, some hi-tech – and all are deserving of consideration. If spas are to achieve deeper emotional relationships with guests, they must work with them all – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch – and also sense of time, hunger and thermoception (heat and cold) and – not forgetting, where appropriate – their sense of humour.

We come at this view from a unique perspective. Leisure Media – the organisation behind the Spa Business Handbook – also publishes Attractions Management magazine in the entertainment industry and we're aware of many visual, aural, touch, 4D and sensory products with exciting potential for spas. Imagine a room with 360-degree screens in which guests can choose the setting – a place they long to visit, a sunset beach, a bluebell wood or the mountains in spring; or personalised environments created using augmented reality technology.

In terms of sound, the Motion Waves system (see p232) plays variations of a noise – such as the movement of wind, a playing harp, bird song or bells – at different pitches, tones and volumes according to a person's movement that's tracked by sensors. The combined results can be profound: Charles Spence, an expert in sensory perception, says that if all sensory cues are pulling in the same direction, the overall impact is greater than that of the individual components. Considering the many different possibilities there are to engage the senses, the opportunities for spas to make a difference are endless.

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