Spa is a household word: key trends
Thursday, 5th April 2007
Source : International SPA Association
Spas are a leading leisure industry with nearly 14000 facilities generating more then $9 billion, in annual revenue in North America alone.

As the authoritative voice of the spa industry, the International SPA Association researches the overall industry and those who go to spas, as well as the trends that are becoming expectations for consumers.

"Similar to restaurants, hotels and fitness centers, spas play a significant role in today's culture," said ISPA President Lynne Walker McNees. "One in four American adults have been to a spa and know what they want from a quality spa experience. The trends are being driven by educated spa-goers who actually see them as expectations."

Through its vast network of research on the consumer and industry, ISPA pinpoints the following spa industry trends:

Spa is a Lifestyle

ISPA's research shows that more than 2 million spa-goers took part in lifestyle classes in 2005. Specific examples of lifestyle offerings include healthy cooking classes, seminars on achieving balance and managing stress and treatments that allow guests to customize their own at-home spa experience. As more people embrace the spa experience, the concept is increasingly being linked to lifestyle decisions based on health and wellness. With issues including obesity, stress and environmental toxins being serious concerns, many spas are incorporating lifestyle elements, including fitness, diet and overall health into the traditional treatment-based spa concept.

Spa Visits are Necessary and an Entitlement

This is particularly true among baby boomers. They feel entitled to spa experiences rather than viewing them as a treat or only reserved for special occasions. The most common reasons for visiting spas include relieving/reducing stress, soothing sore joints/muscles, to feel better about oneself and for mental/emotional health.

Looking for Results

People continue to expect more from their spa visits than simply being pampered. They want results. More than one in 10 spa-goers treat spa-going as part of a larger health and wellness lifestyle. And, the American Massage Therapy Association found that 30 percent of Americans who integrate massage therapy into their routines do so for medical reasons such as injury recovery, pain reduction, headache control and overall health and wellness.

Medical Components

With 69 percent average annual growth from 2003 to 2005, medical spas are one of the fastest growing segments of the industry. The most popular medical treatments are chemical peels, microdermabrasion and natural weight loss measures such as body wraps. Additionally, the medical industry in general, and the plastic surgery sector in particular, are incorporating spa treatments such as naturotherapy and acupuncture into their service structure. 

Living at the Spa

It sounds like a dream, though it's actually a reality. Spas are adding residential components and real estate developers are building spas in gated communities and condominiums. This is particularly visible in the coastal areas of Florida, though is also happening in urban areas including New York City and Las Vegas. 


Groups have been going to spas for generations and now spas are offering enhanced opportunities for socialization. Some spas are even merging the traditional spa concept with entertainment and networking. Eight percent of U.S. spa-goers say they use their time at the spa as an opportunity to socialize. 


One size no longer fits all when it comes to the spa experience. Spa-goers desire experiences that are customized to their personal needs and desires. From booking time instead of a treatment, to selecting the background music, lighting, room temperature and massage oils; being a spa-goer is not a spectator sport. 

Gender-specific experiences

While initially, spas tended to be "everything to everyone," consumers are now looking for experiences tailored specifically to their gender. As 31 percent of spa-goers are men, the demand for products and services designed specifically with men in mind is at an all-time high. 

Spa Vacations

Sixty-three percent of U.S. spa-goers have visited a spa while traveling from home. Apart from budgetary considerations, trips to spas are shaped by desires to visit particular places and have specific types of vacations. Women are more likely than men to be spa-goers, though spa traveling reduces the gender gap considerably as 36 percent of spa travelers are male.

Experiential Journeys

Spa-goers are drawn to indigenous treatments and products, especially when traveling. New textures, aromas and sounds with meaningful story-telling help forge connections to people, places and traditions. Additionally, another trend to watch for is skin care evolving from a product-based service to an experience-based service.

A Few More Notable Items…

  • Treatments that use two or more therapists are also seen as being on the rise.
  • Spa-going moms desire products and experiences designed for them and their babies.
  • The No. 1 reason people go to spas is to reduce/relieve stress and the No. 1 treatment continues to be the Swedish massage.
ISPA's Research
The following ISPA studies were used to compile the key industry trends:

  •  "Identifying the Spa Traveler" explores the unique characteristics of the consumer who goes to the spa while on vacation or traveling. Conducted in partnership with the Canadian Tourism Commission, this study explores spa travelers in both Canada and the United States.
  • The "2006 Spa-Goer Study" is an in-depth analysis of the North American consumer who regularly goes to the spa. It covers the who, what, when, where, why and how of spa-going and provides statistical information on their characteristics, lifestyle, values and spa experience. 
  • The "2006 Consumer Report" is a qualitative study of both the spa-goer and the non-spa-goer. This study focuses on the how and why of spa-going (or not spa-going) and identifies emerging trends within the industry.
  • The 2006 Spa Industry Update is an overview of the number of spas, visits, revenue, employment and trends for the North American spa industry. More details on ISPA's research may be found on www.experienceispa.com.
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