UBER-IZ­ING SPA AND WELL­NESS

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Spa Trends | Uber-izing Spa & Wellness - Words: KRISTIE OMAR

With a smart­phone in ev­ery pocket and more apps than stars in the sky, the world isn’t just at your fin­ger­tips—it’s rac­ing to­ward your front door. GrubHub wants to bring your din­ner, In­stacart your gro­ceries, and Post­mates is happy to fetch you ev­ery­thing in be­tween. Long gone are the days, when only Chi­nese food de­liv­ered.

the beauty and well­ness in­dus­tries are not about to be left be­hind, and app-driven on­de­mand op­tions are crop­ping up left and right, of­fer­ing peo­ple ac­cess to healthy op­tions wher­ever, when­ever, and how­ever they want. Well­ness clients can make ap­point­ments for home vis­its, when it’s con­ve­nient for them and re­ceive ser­vices promptly, some­times even within the hour. Pri­vate med­i­ta­tion and yoga ses­sions, after-prac­tice sports mas­sage, house calls from an MD, or even a man­i­cure for a bed-bound pa­tient are all just a click away. On-de­mand op­tions can’t nec­es­sar­ily match the lux­u­ri­ous pam­per­ing or depth of ser­vices of­fered by more tra­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties, but the ap­peal of an af­ford­able, fully ac­cred­ited, and well-re­viewed ther­a­pist or prac­ti­tioner com­ing to your home, of­fice, ho­tel, or even hospi­tal at the hour of your choos­ing is hard to deny. It’s no sur­prise that beauty and well­ness on-de­mand is in high de­mand.

The run­away suc­cess of the ride-shar­ing app Uber in par­tic­u­lar has done much for pub­lic ac­cep­tance of app-based, on-de­mand ser­vices, with its model so cul­tur­ally per­va­sive that, ac­cord­ing to For­tune Mag­a­zine, start-ups seek­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal com­monly re­fer to them­selves as, “the Uber of our mar­ket”. Uber book­ings have grown by nearly 38 times in just four years, with $7 bil­lion raised from pri­vate in­vestors and an im­puted mar­ket value of more than $50 bil­lion.

Uber might be one of the most vis­i­ble ex­am­ples, but in only the last few years, a suite of new apps has al­lowed cus­tomers to choose from trusted lo­cal ser­vices, con­nect se­curely with ma­jor in­sti­tu­tions like banks, and buy ev­ery va­ri­ety of goods un­der the sun with safety and ease. Ac­cord­ing to The Fis­cal Times, mo­bile app us­age jumped by 74 per­cent in 2014, while app us­age specif­i­cally for life­style and shop­ping in­creased by a stag­ger­ing 174 per­cent. The In­ter­net in gen­eral has also changed life for mil­lions of home­bound peo­ple, from those, who have mo­bil­ity is­sues to moms with young chil­dren, who can’t get out of the house, but can shop and en­joy the lat­est movies on­line. Now on-de­mand well­ness and beauty ser­vices give peo­ple ac­cess to ser­vices they could not eas­ily en­joy – and the re­sponse is over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive.

The preva­lence of stress in the work­place is well doc­u­mented in the health and well­ness com­mu­nity. Six out of ten work­ers in ma­jor global economies claim to ex­pe­ri­ence in­creased work­place stress, with over half of the global work­force stat­ing that they are closer to burn­ing out than they were just five years ago.

What sets well­ness on-de­mand apart, how­ever, is that the very fac­tors that con­trib­ute to ris­ing lev­els of stress also para­dox­i­cally make it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to pur­sue tra­di­tional forms of well­ness to al­le­vi­ate that stress. In short, if you’re over­worked and over­booked, it’s un­likely you’ll have the time to sched­ule a stress-re­duc­ing trip to the spa or ses­sion with your per­sonal trainer. On-de­mand ser­vices ex­ist specif­i­cally to cir­cum­vent these con­straints and squeeze a lit­tle per­sonal time out of even the most crowded cal­en­dar.

The Fu­ture

On-de­mand ser­vices for beauty and well­ness are a ris­ing tide, lift­ing all boats. They of­fer con­ve­nience and im­me­di­acy for cus­tomers, new low-over­head busi­ness prospects for en­trepreneurs, and the chance for ther­a­pists and prac­ti­tion­ers to en­joy greater flex­i­bil­ity, while also pock­et­ing a higher per­cent­age of their ser­vice costs than they would at a spa or sa­lon. These ser­vices also seem to be grow­ing along­side tra­di­tional spas and sa­lons, with to­tal in­dus­try rev­enue up 5.4 per­cent in 2014 over 2013, and spa vis­its hit­ting a record high of 176 mil­lion in 2014. Most peo­ple will con­tinue to pre­fer the lux­ury and com­mu­nity of a spa or fit­ness stu­dio, but in a world, where ev­ery kind of well­ness is grow­ing there’s room for both on lo­ca­tion and at home mar­kets to flour­ish. A trend like this, with all win­ners and few if any losers, is bound to keep grow­ing. These kinds of at-home fit­ness, well­ness, and beauty ser­vices have long been the prov­ince of celebri­ties, and it’s ob­vi­ous why af­ford­able, easy-to-or­der ver­sions would be so ap­peal­ing to the mass mar­ket. The op­por­tu­nity is also present for ex­ist­ing spas and well­ness providers to part­ner with these on-de­mand ser­vices and ex­pand their of­fer­ings, es­pe­cially for cus­tomers pas­sion­ate about well­ness ex­pe­ri­ences, who sim­ply want more. Some spas are al­ready us­ing Uber to sup­ply ther­a­pists dur­ing hours, when they have a prac­ti­tioner avail­able but not a room. And Zeel re­cently launched Zeel Concierge, a ser­vice that helps ho­tels and spas book ap­point­ments that would other­wise go un­filled due to lack of staffing or last minute re­quests. Us­ing Zeel Concierge, ho­tel concierges and spa staff can book ap­point­ments at their fa­cil­i­ties or ho­tel rooms us­ing Zeel mas­sage ther­a­pists, with Zeel han­dling avail­abil­ity and pay­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Zeel’s Ha­madeh, an­other promis­ing area for growth is sub­scrip­tion­based mod­els, such as the com­pany’s Zeelot pro­gram, which is de­signed to bring down the cost and raise the value of each mas­sage. And ex­pect to see fit­ness, beauty and med­i­cal ser­vices also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sim­i­lar sub­scrip­tion-led boosts in rev­enue. New well­ness and beauty ser­vices are also likely to en­ter the arena, from on-de­mand spir­i­tual ad­vi­sors and acupunc­tur­ists to nu­tri­tion­ists and detox gu­rus. And more work­places will seek to take ad­van­tage of ser­vices like Man­icube – a com­pany that pro­vides a quick 15 minute beauty and well­ness ser­vices at busy of­fices in big cities, im­prov­ing morale with sub­si­dized, of­fice-wide op­por­tu­ni­ties to book mas­sage ser­vices and work­outs. It’s es­ti­mated that there are well over 100 of these on-de­mand spa, fit­ness, beauty, and medicine apps, and as with any startup move­ment we can also ex­pect con­sol­i­da­tion in the fu­ture, with those pro­vid­ing the high­est qual­ity, most re­li­able ser­vices bound to ab­sorb the com­pe­ti­tion.

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