Spa Products: Road to Relaxation

Originally published in Incentive magazine, December 2006

A relaxing spa session at a luxury destination is one of the ultimate rewards an incentive package can offer. But even if you can't treat your incentive group to a posh spa in Tahiti, you can give them the spa experience at their leisure (and within your budget). From rejuvenating lotions to mood-setting candles, spa products make excellent gifts that clearly tell employees: You've worked hard; now, relax.

The good news is that more spas are opening their specialty product lines to corporate purchasers. These lines often boast exotic ingredients and stylized presentations that communicate feelings of uniqueness and exclusivity to the recipient. "[Private label products] would be attractive for any corporation to order because they are an upscale, special award," says Hannelore Leavy, founder and executive director of the Day Spa Association (DSA).

So why are spas looking for a new channel to corporate clients?

"Spas need to find additional revenue streams," says Laura Campbell, who is vice president of gift card sales for Spa Finder Inc., and was vice president of corporate sales for the company before that. "If they haven't tapped into the corporate incentive market, they're really missing an incredible opportunity."

Mother Nature Nurtures

"More and more people are being proactive about their own health," Spa Finder's Campbell says. The response from spa companies has been to create more products that promote well-being rather than just beauty, and that use natural products rather than chemicals.

Since India–based Kama Ayurveda began U.S. distribution in February, the company has seen a "significant increase" in traffic to its Web site, says Randy Boba, co-founder of Alcanz International, LLC, domestic distributor of Kama Ayurveda. Kama products—once only available in the spas at The Oberoi hotel in Bombay, the Hyatt Regency in New Delhi and other properties in India—relies on 6,000 years of medical healing knowledge from India. These remedies take a holistic approach to body and mind rejuvenation, using all-natural ingredients that are typically found on spice cabinet shelves—coriander, sesame oil, licorice and coconut oil, to name a few.

One company priority is to connect awareness of its brand to an understanding of Ayurvedic treatment. Ayurveda, which roughly means "science of life and longevity," organizes the body into three categories, or "doshas"—movement, structure and metabolism, and lubrication. Most treatments cater to one dosha, but a treatment designed for all three balances the mind, body and spirit. "The ingredients are effective for all skin types, all body types, all doshas," Boba says. Kama products allow consumers to enjoy Ayurvedic healing products without the confusion dosha-specific self-analysis might provoke. "It's much more consumer friendly, and yet it maintains the authentic nature of the product line."

A portion of every sale of Kama products benefits the Indian hospitals and clinics with which the company has paired to create its healing prescriptions. "It's a nice way for corporations to be socially responsible," Boba says of Kama's products.

Kama's Miraculous Beauty Fluid is a favorite among corporate clients. The serum combines saffron, lotus, licorice and other ingredients to reduce the appearance of fine lines and other imperfections around the eyes and forehead. "More than just using a lotion or chemical peel, you're truly detoxifying the body and purifying the skin," Boba says, "It's just five minutes where you can help to de-stress yourself."

In the harsh winter months, Kama's Retexturizing Skin Treatment, with coconut milk and sesame oil, treats chapping and roughness caused by dry skin. Though it may seem counterintuitive to apply an oil-based product, especially for those with shiny skin, Boba says the treatment does not leave a greasy residue and can work double-duty as a sunburn-relieving serum in the summer.

At New York City–based Cornelia Day Resort, natural ingredients take precedence in many products, including their tea collection. Though the company sells its merchandise to stores, such as Selfridges in the United Kingdom and Victoria's Secret, it focuses on gift card sales for corporate clients. But six months ago, Cornelia began offering a special deal to the incentive market: For clients who purchase $5,000 or more in gift cards, Cornelia provides their employees with gift sets of their natural teas. The flavors Detoxifying—which includes juniper berries, birch leaves and other ingredients—and Energizing—which contains angelica to help the digestive system and ginger to promote circulation—are among the most popular selections.

"It's an added gift to them for being good clients," says Rick Aidekman, a partner at Cornelia. Other clients prefer giving employees dopp baskets (a term for a man's toiletry kit) that hold travel-size shower gel, bar soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner.

Personalization Spells Personality

Customization can lend spa gifts a special touch. Dallas–based Lady Primrose's Inc. first offered its skin products at London's upscale Lanesborough Hotel and now can be found in many locations, including the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Cayman Islands, the Emirates Palace in Abu Dabi, U.A.E., and department stores, such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's. While the company has sold many of its products to a corporate audience for over eight years, its custom-engraving option has recently become a favorite among those clients. "People are more interested in buying things that are somewhat personal … beautiful things that people can enjoy in the comfort of their own home," says Deby Fowler, vice president of sales. "There have been more companies wanting to do that."

Primrose's Tryst Noir Candle has been especially popular with business clients, perhaps because the classy, simple, black glass holder can be engraved with an employee's name, initials or a company logo. Equally appealing is the candle's aroma—its rich sandalwood and warm musk scent is complemented by that of white flowers. And with prices ranging from $14 to $20 (depending on the quantity ordered and the type of engraving), it's affordable. "[Incentive earners] can enjoy [gifts] on a trip, but now [they] can enjoy it in the luxury of [their] own home," Fowler says.

Special Products Cater to Specialty AudiencesMore products today cater to the needs and desires of certain demographics. One example is Kama's Intensive Hair Treatment, which is especially good for African Americans—ingredients reduce tangles, absorb oils and rejuvenate hair follicles, while penetrating the scalp. "It's just such a luxurious treatment," Boba says. The product is made of the traditional Ayurvedic oil Bringadi, which combines herbal ingredients indigo, licorice and balloon vine to fight bacteria and promote hair growth.

Many spas also are expanding their product lines directed toward men. Elemis Spa, which has locations in London; Coral Gables, Fla.; and at the Mohegan Sun hotel and casino in Uncasville, Conn., just began distributing its product lines to the corporate market in October. The company has several beautiful gift sets popular among corporate business clients, says Aimee Schmalzle, sales and marketing manager. The company's Purely gift set for men includes products to "soothe and smooth his rough edges"—facial wash, skin scrub and shaving products.

Lest the ladies feel left out, Elemis also offers a Luxury Treats gift set, which comes in a pink box that contains a milk bath, Cellular Recovery Skin Bliss Capsules, Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, shower gel, body balm and more.

As more spas begin to distribute their specialty product lines to both the general public and to corporate customers, the results are sure to benefit more than recipients. DSA's Leavy says that by introducing its brand to a corporate client through its products, a spa begins to build a relationship with the client that in the future may bring a group to the spa itself. But the rewards work both ways: "It's also good for the corporation because they're giving the gift of health and beauty."

Need more gift ideas? Click here to read the last Personal Success: Gifts that Give Back.

For more ideas, tips, and tools for better meetings and events, get Successful Meetings' weekly e-newsletter to your inbox