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Susie Ellis
Bridging the wellness gap

Susie Ellis has the enviable lifestyle of spa-ing once a week. But unlike normal spa goers, she can’t just lie back and enjoy it all….she’s too busy taking mental notes so that she can provide valuable information on the spa to readers on her website or her blog!

As President of the world’s largest spa marketing and media research company SpaFinder Inc., Susie Ellis is credited with transforming the spa industry from its niche market segment to the mega industry in is today. Recognised as a leading authority on the global spa industry, she is a respected analyst who presents the global spa industry trends yearly to a professional audience who plan their growth strategies on that basis. She is a frequent invitee to spa events as international speaker and is the Founding Board member of the Global Spa Summit (GSS). Author of the widely read industry blog Susie’s Spa Blog, Ellis is credited with forecasting numerous industry “mega-trends” that have taken hold in spas around the world.

In an exclusive interview, Susie Ellis tells Spa Mantra about the evolution and phenomenal success of SpaFinder.

1. What has made SpaFinder the most popular website in the world for those seeking a spa treatment/ vacation?

Several things are key:

We have one laser-like focus, and that is to connect consumers with spas.  We bring customers to spas and spas to customers.  And we do that really well.

When we launched 25 years ago, the modern spa industry was really in its infancy, we have amassed a unique amount of expertise and brand recognition since then.

We really do know the spa industry extremely well because of the many ways we work with consumers, spas, and travel agents.  And we invest in continuing to stay on top of (and hopefully ahead of) industry trends.

The gift card program is extremely popular.

Our brand recognition is very high in North America, the UK and Japan, and is becoming more widely known in other parts of the world.

2.       How has your offering evolved over these years?

SpaFinder started out in 1987 as a small specialty (spa-focused) travel agency with just three agents.  We then launched a “catalogue” that eventually evolved into our yearly SpaFinder directory.  In 1990, when my husband and I purchased the company, we turned the focus to the Internet and began building partnerships with spas to bring them more exposure and business – and our online platform showcased spas to lots of customers.  After a few years we closed down the travel agency part of the company because the Internet was delivering a higher volume of customers than one physical agency could manage on its own.  Next, we added the gift card program.  We continue to introduce innovative and creative marketing initiatives into the market:  for instance, SpaWish, Wellness Week, and SpaRahRah are good examples.  We work with corporations now, and are now introducing an Employee Wellness product. We have a dedicated research team that monitors trends and regularly surveys our various stakeholders.  Along with eight other industry leaders, we launched the Global Spa Summit. Today, have almost 100 employees at our headquarters in New York City.

3.       Who is a spa customer today?  What does he/she seek?

The spa customer of “yesterday” (when I started in the spa industry over 30 years ago) was primarily either the affluent person that visited thermal baths (in Europe) for revitalization or the affluent female in the U.S., whose husband, typically, afforded her the luxury of a spa vacation. How that has changed. Today’s spa customer is anyone and everyone: men, women, teens, pre-teens, babies, couples, families, singles, groups – both corporate and private.  There is a spa at just about every price-point, so spa going has expanded far beyond the affluent women, it’s far more about health and wellness, it’s expanded beyond women.

The number one reason people go to spas is to relax and de-stress.  Another way of looking at it is that spa experiences today focus on revitalizing people, so that they can live their best life.

4.   How has that changed in the last 5 years?

Please see answer above

There has also been a major, ongoing shift from a focus on pampering to a focus on wellness in the past 5 years.  And as we noted in SpaFinder’s Trend Report for 2011, with an aging global population, in addition to overall wellness, pain relief is beginning to be a major component of what many spa-goers seek in their spa experience.

Read the full version of the article at (Issue 5 page 22)

Writer : Sandhya Chipalkatti, Editor




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Welcome to (the “Site”), a website owned and controlled by C&E Pvt. Ltd (“C&E”, “we”, “us”, or “our”). We operate the Site, and C&E products and services made available through the Site (collectively the “Services”), which make link creation in copied and pasted content effortless to readers and, in certain cases, enables easier searches from copied content. We provide this privacy policy to let you know what information we collect, and how we use it, share it and protect it.

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We operate the Services, which make link creation in copied and pasted content effortless to readers and, in certain cases, which make searches from copied content easier. When you, an End User, copy content from a Publisher Site and paste it into another document, the Services that have been installed on the Publisher Site may, at the publishers discretion, automatically append a link back to the original content. When you visit a Publisher Site, we collect certain non-personally identifiable information (“Non-PII”) for use on our platform (the “C&E Platform”). We enable our Publishers to use this information via the Platform for analytics purposes, and we also use some of this information to market our products and services to you and those of third parties we believe may be of interest to you as described below.

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