Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks
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Eco Spas: is it worth investing in ecology?

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Written by Brigita Kliucinskaite - University of Derby

 

Living in 2019 is as exciting as it is challenging. The climate change, limited resources and an increasingpressure from today’s millennial society, forces businesses to rethink their strategies and actually ask themselves the question: Is it worth going green? Of course, as the customeris the centreof the spa industry, the real question here is whether the customer appreciates spas being ecological. 

Do customers actually care about being green?

Not surprisingly, together with a common sense that we must preserve the earth,there are various studies confirming customers actually care. The international study performed significantly outlines that even 95% of individuals feelpersonally concerned about saving the environment. A study found that only a small group of individuals agreed to paying a 5% premium for green products, therefore showing that being eco-friendly is not priority when price was a deciding factor. Still, being green is a significant competitive advantage of when the priceand quality of competitors are similar. Moreover, sustainabilityresearch shows that, in terms of performance, companies investing in being green will be highly recognized over the next few decades. Plus, with a focus merely on the spa industry according to a 2013 American Lives marketing surveys,90% of all wellness customers are environmentally oriented, therefore, such a huge overlap commits thespa industry to look into ecology. 

What makes a business green? 

Despite knowing that words ‘’eco’’ or ‘’green’’ have been around for a while there are still no boundaries to what makes your business eco-friendly. It is clear that on a basic level being eco-friendly means keeping an eye on the business’ impact on the environment. However, the overall vision of ecology is constantly growing. Therefore, it is still up to each business to determine the level of ecology they want to implement. For example, bigger spas could implement solar panels for sustainable energy usage but simply implementing energy saving LED bulbs and sensors to control when utilities are turned on and off. This can also have a significant impact on reducing both energy usage and operating expenses. One of the simplest and fastest means that any spa can use is to reducesingle-useitems as much as possible. Items such as plastic cups, paper towels and all other common items are one of the largest issues in today’s world polluting oceans and lands. All of these items can be easily substituted withbiodegradable or multi-use alternatives, reduce waste and even significantly save on costs.

Finance

Naturally, every spa is operating to serve customers but no business can survive in the long term without making a profit. Therefore, every investment decision must be thought through at an extensive level. Going green is perceived to be a very expensive move, however,this is not a case when implemented correctly. All the small steps as previously outlined are not only easy but does not cost a lot. Additionally, these steps can highly reduce costs. Indeed, a single mid-sized spa centrecan use more than 100,000 plastic cups over a year. This number can be highly reduced by reusable cups which significantly reduces the bill and can be recycled afterwards. Moreover, even high-worth investments can save costs. Each business owner knows that the long-term financial result is all that matters. Let’s take solar panels which are an extremely expensive investment; Even though it is expensive, the cost is only experienced in the short-term reducing financial results only temporarily. Then, throughout the whole life-cycle of the solar panel it only profits the spa as it diminishes the need to buy energy from an outside supplier and results in a long-term gain. The reduction of operating costs in the long-term, of course, is then transmitted further: either to the business to maximize profits retaining same service price or the customer by lowering the price of service. Indeed, the business would always benefit in the long-term as even lowering the price of service dueto lower costs attracts new customers and grows revenues.

Setting a great example: Six Senses

The result of everything that ismentioned above can be captured in one example: Six Senses. According to Forbes “Sustainability is not what Six Senses does, it is who they are”. It is a globally recognisedbrand attracting everyone because of their unique attitude towards ecology. From having their own gardens to growing fresh vegetables and fruits to using solar energy to fully power some of their resorts. As discussed before, Six Senses also tackles the issue of plastic use by distilling ocean water and filling their own glass bottles that are widely used across their resorts. Most importantly, Six Senses is a perfect example for any spa to follow as being green not only allows them to stand out in customers eyes but also win various awards and be one of the most profitable and successful spa resort in the world. 

Key Six Senses takeaways every spa can implement:

  • Adapt to the local surrounding – build to incorporate the local culture by exploring architectural ideas using certified wood, recycled and sustainable materials, water and energy efficient appliances. Correct and creative use of all the previous can have a huge impact on creating an outstanding perception.
  • Prioritize nature– a focus on saving the environment by using healthy, non-toxic cleaning and laundry products will always be rewarded on the way to being green.
  • Keep your food clean – plant a garden to know what you serve. As a minimum, research your suppliers, provide only free-range eggs, organic food and simply make sure to care forwhat you provide to your customers.

So, is it worth going green? 

The answer is YES. All in all, there are various gains from investing in ecology. However, it is a complex process requiring a long-term vision and determination to be able to benefit from gains of going green. Various studies actually suggest that it benefits spa centresto be ecological. One of the most important factorsissocial perception. Customers actually care about businesses being green and will always choose ecological business instead of a similar competitor that does not save the environment. However, there is an extensive list of additional gains from investing inecology such as; significantly reducing costs on the financial books, acquiring new customers and contributing to stopthe climate change.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2020