We spoke with Ingrid Middaugh, Vice President of Operations for Trilogy Spa Holdings, about data, revenue, and marketing your spa so it gets the attention it deserves.
Ingrid Middaugh is the Vice President of Operations for Trilogy Spa Holdings and an influential leader with a passion for service excellence and more than 22 years of history working in the hospitality and spa industries.
It’s a world she “kind of fell into” after graduating college with a dietetics degree. She explains, “I got married on a Saturday and moved to Vail from Michigan with my college sweetheart on Tuesday. He had an internship and I started working at a resort. We thought we were just going to be there for the summer but we ended up staying and it’s been 23 years.”
Her career began at the front desk at the Aria spa at the Vail Cascade and she worked her way up from there: “I just fell in love with the industry and with dealing with people who might be a little cranky when they walk in, but then changing them in a matter of an hour and seeing them leave happy and relaxed. Vail’s not an easy place to get to, so by the time people land in Denver and travel up into the mountains, well, we saw a lot of cranky people. To be able to turn them around and get their vacation heading in the right direction, there was something magical about it.”
After stints at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and with East West Hospitality, Ms Middaugh now oversees spa operations at Trilogy’s Colorado, California, and Tucson, Arizona locations, developing treatment and spa experiences and directing spa employees to deliver exceptional services that inspire and elevate guests’ overall wellbeing.
We spoke with Ingrid Middaugh about data, revenue, and marketing your spa so it gets the attention it deserves.
Tell us about Trilogy.
Trilogy is a third party spa management company. We work with properties like Marriott and Hilton, and other boutique spas, who hire us to operate their spa on their property. We work closely with the hotel so we don’t feel like a separate entity but we have our own retail director, marketing and accounting teams, HR, and as well as a spa expert who writes our protocols for us. We manage every single aspect of the spa. It’s a great partnership to help increase hotel and resort revenue.
It’s very different from when the spa is managed in-house by a hotel or resort. At Trilogy Spa Holdings, the whole team, from retail to HR, is all about spa.
What would be the benefits of working with a management company rather than managing a spa in-house?
I think it’s the level of expertise and focus we bring. We have specific marketing expertise and set tools that we use to increase revenue. It’s well known in the hotel industry that spas are often viewed as an amenity and aren’t always showcased the way they could be. It’s like, “Oh, and we have a spa and a gym and an outdoor pool,” almost as an afterthought. We like to be the focal point and part of the experience of staying somewhere.
Where do spas miss marketing opportunities?
I’ve been in properties before where a guest comes down and says “I didn’t even know you had a spa here.” That is not what you want to hear! That should be at the forefront when someone is making their hotel reservations. Incorporating the spa into the hotel reservation, the confirmation, and the pre-arrival letter should just be standard. But I don’t see that happening in every property. Spa often has to fight to get its place on a page or in an elevator just for awareness, and that can be frustrating. Start with making sure each guest knows about the spa at check-in. Including the spa in hotel packages should be a standard as well. For example, the option to book a room with two spa vouchers. There are a lot of little things that you can do to make sure people know that you’re on property. We work with the properties to do this.
Can you talk about reporting and numbers?
Oh, yes. I love the Book4Time dashboard report. You can get such good insight from it. I oversee three locations and I can get a glimpse of what’s happening just by looking at the different reports. It has everything kind of rolled up on there and the benefit of having Book4Time is that I can log in and see what’s happening from wherever I am.
I can tell when a spa director is doing a good job and when there is room for improvement, just by looking at the schedule; whether they are at full capacity, if they’re closing early, whether staff breaks are properly scheduled … I can see what’s working and what isn’t. I was working with somebody at a spa that didn’t use Book4Time at one point and I was just taking their word on everything. When I got on property I could tell things were not being managed well.
What are some ways that spas can increase revenue?
Enhancements are such a huge upselling opportunity. You can really customize the guest experience just by offering enhancements to existing treatments. At our spas, we offer add ons like arnica to CBD, scalp treatments, and foot scrubs. All it does is customize that guest experience. Everything in Colorado is dry, so we make sure to offer hydration things. Colorado was also one of the earliest locations to start using CBD, and in the first year that we started offering it as an enhancement, we did about $50,000 in CBD enhancements alone.
Upsells are also key. If you don’t have a 50-minute massage available, but you do have an 80-minute massage available, they’ll probably take it. We also offer collagen and relaxation teas. A lot of the teas are complementary, but some are available as an upsell, which is always nice. You can do day passes. Maybe somebody doesn’t have time to do a full day of relaxation but wants to come in and use the salt room or compression booth. We can offer a day pass for them to come in. We do a lot of those in the wintertime for people after skiing.
We also do “Sparty’s” It’s a spa party! Groups of gals get together for a bachelorette, or just because, or as a getaway, and we offer discounts based on the number of people who book. I think that’s so cute! “Sparty.”
What are you excited about?
I’m enjoying the sleep trend where people are offering treatments to help increase and improve sleep. I did a sleeping treatment in Costa Rica last year – I’m a non-sleeper – and slept really well for about six months afterwards. Another trend I see is putting the phone away and getting back to mental health, getting outside, not feeling like you have to be connected to everybody and respond instantly. Whenever our therapists have a little break, I encourage them to talk a walk outside. We have a little river behind the spa where they can go walk for a few minutes. It’s so good to get outside and get out of your little dark room and immerse yourself in nature.
I think that in the wake of the pandemic people have retained that focus on the importance of being well, and even more on the rise is the mental health aspect of wellness. That is especially important right now, to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves, not only physically, but mentally too.
Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.