Spa industry sets new record for visits, continues to create jobs

Amazing news for the spa and wellness sector this week, as spa visits in the U.S. hit an incredible all-time high of more than 180 million in 2016.

ISPA has released its annual findings of spa industry financial indicators, reporting that the number of spa visits is estimated to have increased to 184 million in 2016, up from 179 million in 2015, a 2.5% increase.

The industry also continues to experience steady growth in overall revenue, locations and revenue per visit, according to the release. And of course, where there is growth there are job opportunities.

The study, conducted by PwC on behalf of the ISPA Foundation, looked at five key metrics, or the “Big Five:” total revenue, spa visits, spa locations, revenue per visit, and number of employees for the United States spa industry.

“We are thrilled to see our industry’s hard work and dedication truly pay off with more and more consumers enjoying spas,” ISPA President Lynne McNees is quoted as saying. “An increase in visits means higher demand of spa services, which demonstrates a very positive outlook. As jobs are created to meet this demand, we will continue to promote the benefits of a career in the spa industry.”

Overall revenue reached $16.8 billion, a 3.1% increase over the previous record of $16.3 billion in 2015. Total number of locations grew from 21,020 in 2015 to 21,260 in 2016, a 1.1% increase.

“The ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study reflects a pleasing picture of steady growth in the industry. The key metrics are all continuing their upward trend and the numbers in employment highlight the importance of the spa industry to the U.S. economy,” said Colin McIlheney, Global Research Director for PwC.

The number of employees increased by 1.6%, from 359,300 in May 2016 to 365,200 in May 2017, and there are currently 32,930 vacant positions for service providers in the spa industry.

As we know, finding and keeping talent is often cited as the biggest challenge for spa directors and managers. And McNees says that effective communication of these openings and opportunities will be a priority for ISPA in the future.

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are still seven million people unemployed throughout the country. Promotion of careers in the spa industry will be an important initiative for ISPA moving forward,” McNees said.

Lower than expected starting salaries are one potential hurdle, while practitioners often think they’re better off working for themselves than in a spa. Stress and burnout are also high in an industry that can be both physically and psychologically demanding on its practitioners.

On the other hand, ISPA points to benefits that include “schedule flexibility, opportunities to work in a international environments, exceptional training, and career growth.” They also point to advantages to working in a spa over freelancing, which include opportunities for continuing education, as well as administration benefits like advertising, accounting, and booking.

The complete ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study will be released in September.

Related: How to attract and keep top talent at your spa


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