Since launching in 2010, Hilton’s in-house spa concept, eforea, has grown from one location to 22 globally. Five years on, the company is looking to add another 42 sites and to facilitate this near three-fold expansion in the next four to five years, it’s decided that the brand needs a makeover.
While it’s kept key aspects of the concept – the signature butterflies, the catchy tag line ‘emerge brighter’ – the reimagined eforea is a much less rigid model. It’s more appealing to Hilton hotel owners the world over, market specific and logistically viable. But what changes has it made and why?
One adjustment of note has been to give properties the opportunity to self-select product partners based on their locale. Previously all eforea spas stocked Kerstin Florian, VitaMan and Li’Tya and while half of them still do, others have opted for different suppliers. In the UK, for example, all new eforea spas use Elemis.
“We didn’t want to entangle our spas in complex supplier relationships,” says Ryan Crabbe, senior director of global wellness for Hilton Worldwide. “It’s important that our owners and operating partners have a local partner – somebody who’s in the market to educate the team, and who’s passionate abut helping the spa manager build the business.”
The rethink fits in well with eforea’s existing Escape Journey treatments which already enable each spa to create unique services that incorporate ingredients, products and therapies native to the area. At the eforea spa in Sedona, Arizona, for instance, The Manteadas Massage features ‘curanderismo’, a traditional Hispanic healing method that uses gentle stretching and unwinding, while at the Hilton Batumi, the Georgian Corn & Salt Scrub with Vichy includes a manual exfoliation using local corn husks, salt and hot water.
“We don’t want any of our spas to have the same menus as the others – every location should be different,” says Crabbe. “There are very distinct spa cultures in the world, and you can’t be prescriptive.”
He adds: “Previously with eforea, everybody was on the same page, but we’ve established a new format so that properties can self-express – even more than before. You don’t want to force compliance to one method or back people into a corner with your programming.”
To drive growth, Hilton has also introduced an eforea paid monthly membership for regular customers, which gives treatments, benefits and discounts.
Also as part of the refresh, Hilton introduced an eforea spa & health club model. Crabbe says Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East are all important markets for this new element, along with select locations in North America like Sedona, which has a serious fitness culture.
Louise Moore, director of spa operations and development for Europe adds. “One of the important things from our perspective is to really ensure that the space that’s being developed is market-relevant.”
If Hilton has learned that a standardised model doesn’t work for a worldwide network of spas, it’s betting that the same holds true for fitness. Crabbe says: “There are so many different ways of moving in a fitness space – so many trends, whether it’s tribal classes or individual personal training with pilates – and the cycle of what’s hot varies and swings wildly by region. And so just as we haven’t applied global stencils to the spa programme, it’s the same with the fitness programme; we want everything to be market-driven.”
Powerful mini treatments
Despite its less-prescriptive approach to spa, Hilton is still looking for a “high degree of consistency” with the eforea brand. So a third element of the refresh includes the launch of three Journey Enhancements – mini-treatments that are available at every eforea spa worldwide.
Developed by master therapist Sean Jordan, the 25-minute Journey Enhancements take elements of ancient healing techniques from around the world and combine them with relaxation.
Moore says: “The Journey Enhancements is the common link globally that unites our family, and the word that we’ve consistently used throughout is ‘authenticity’.”
Jordan knows his stuff: he’s travelled and lived around the world since he was 18, studying Buddhism, meditation and healing massage, and has opened several healing and teaching centres, from India to Central America. He spent about nine months working with Hilton to create the Journey Enhancements.
Although short in duration, the new treatments target three specific areas of the body – feet; head and face; and shoulder, neck and scalp – where nerve endings are the most dense to have the greatest impact. Jordan has incorporated elements of ayurveda, Chinese acupressure, Swedish massage, trigger point therapy, Egyptian reflexology, Native American healing, Korean foot massage, Thai massage, and Indian head massage into the treatments.
The mix of the different techniques make for a powerful treatment and the variation helps to protect therapists from repetitive strain injuries.
How they’re packaged on the spa menu has been carefully thought through as well. The Journey Enhancements can be purchased à la carte, as a bundle of three, or as an add-on. Costs are competitive, but vary regionally. For instance, at Hilton Ageas Bowl Southampton, England – one of the first locations to trial the new eforea model – a single Journey Enhancement costs £45 (US$69, €61), an add-on is priced at £30 (US$46. £41) or all three can be booked for £100 (US$152, €136).
“We want this to be a no-brainer add-on for the customer and we want them to feel that value if they add it on to an existing treatment,” says Crabbe.
The Journey Enhancements also feature prominently at the front of each spa menu. And while still relatively new, therapists and receptionists alike have been inspired by the additions, which has had a positive effect on take-up. They’ve been received “massively well,” says Moore. Amy Phillips, spa manager at eforea in Southampton, concurs – Journey Enhancements account for 70 per cent of all booked treatments she says.
Openings are planned everywhere from Argentina to Bahrain, with a couple in Africa: in Chad and Cape Verde. Key markets identified for the rollout are the US, UK and MEA (Middle East and Africa).
The refresh will allow for expansion in a way that’s unique to each market – both through a choice of product partners and with the locally inspired Escape Journeys – but also allows for the consistency that a global entity like Hilton needs, with the signature Journey Enhancements and a strong brand presence.
“You learn pretty quickly that there are certain geographical challenges to global partnerships in the spa industry,” says Crabbe. “And so we have adjusted, so that at the end of the day, the guest feels that they are spa-ing in that market.”