Become a Tanning Expert

There is one service that pops up far less in conversations about all aspects of the spa and beauty business than others, and often it is missing or underplayed from spa and salon menus. Are you leaving out sunless tanning revenue? Asks Kirien Withers.

A number of times when spa travelling I have scheduled a sunless tan at a particular point to ensure that when I got to the special location I would be golden and gorgeous (we hope), but then found no tanning on the menu. Each time, I have been so surprised. Why would a resort, where everyone wants to look gorgeous poolside, NOT offer tanning services? And, a great tan delivers wonderful referral marketing. It makes no sense.

Channel Nine’s Amber Wyatt became the face of Eco Tan’s all-natural solution.

With the diverse ways that a sunless tan can be offered, both in a destination environment and at a local spa or salon, why wouldn’t a business take advantage of this income stream? Perhaps clients’ results just weren’t good enough and it was deemed safer to stay out of the paint pot? The industry has clearly evolved into dedicated tanning businesses staffed by specialists who learn the craft in detail.

However, in today’s harder times, can you afford not to offer this body colour transition service? Your business needs to meet all of your clients’ aesthetic needs or they will go somewhere that will. But in researching for this article I have learnt that although there are some superb sophisticated formulations and delivery systems on the market, getting a good tanning result is far more complicated than just a quality product and delivery style.

From Andrea Taylor, CEO of Meditteranean Tan, Wax and Beauty, I have learnt about how crucial it is for the client to be trained in what products to use and what not to use before the tanning application. For instance, did you know that a body wash with the wrong pH and sulphates (such as a standard supermarket brand), when used before a tan, can result in the applied formula evolving with an orange tone? And that some non-professional shampoos that have adhered to the skin after shampooing in the shower will prevent the tan from taking, as will shea butter and some body moisturisers used before tanning. This results in the need for client education and makes the case for a fabulous retail opportunity, as the brand you choose to partner with for your tanning should be able to supply all the retail products clients require to ensure skin is perfectly prepped for a successful colour.

Then there is the post-tan protocol, to ensure the tan is maintained post-treatment in best condition for as long as possible. Again I learnt from Andrea that there is a lot to consider and educate the client on about this, too. These include a post-tan spray with antioxidants applied during the drying process to boost the DHA activity and to retain a dewy (but not tacky) moisture in the skin; the art of the manual dry; and homecare advice and support products, such as tan extenders and tan maintaining body wash, moisturisers and shampoo for if clients wash their hair in the shower. All fabulous opportunities for both retail and the increased likelihood of referrals from clients who are happy with their great tan, maintained as you have taught them. The result? A loyal client who will trust your advice for her other beauty concerns and services as well.

The options to deliver a sunless tan generally come down to a manual spray or hands-on application. Though automated tanning booths do provide a fully contained option, the feedback I hear and have experienced myself is that, as bodies come in all shapes and sizes and the jets in a unit are generally fixed, one tan booth may not fit all bodies. Andrea says that Solaire is releasing an automated tanning booth that measures the client to ensure appropriate delivery—watch out for that one.

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For manual spray booths, tents or rooms, it’s all about having suitable space. If you have a small treatment room and are in a demographic with high tanning demand, a dedicated room is practical. For many spas and salons, offering tanning is essential and the demand can be built with clever cross-promotion and new business development, but dedicating a whole treatment room removes the essential ability to multi-purpose the space. A professional booth designed for manual spray tan is a great choice as it fits within a treatment or non-treatment space and is more affordable.

Mark Robson of SunFX points to the Sunstation Tanning Tower, designed for high-end spas and salons, to offer a neat and tidy, everything-you-need-in-one solution. As suppliers to such names as Four Seasons, Aria Spa in Las Vegas, Hard Rock Hotel, PGA National Resort & Spa and the Queen Mary II, SunFX certainly has the goods. But Mark stresses the importance of training in order to get a good result and that how good therapists are at building relationships is crucial to a high volume of return clients and referrals. The benefit of spray application is that when you have perfected a result for the client, they still need to come back to renew their tan, resulting in regular client visitation and cross-selling opportunities.

Mark and Andrea both point out that the tanning area’s location within the spa or salon must be away from the super-quiet treatment room zone and the equipment must be whisper-quiet.

No space? No worries. The self-tanning market has evolved to offer a wealth of high quality options for non-spray sunless tanning. Once again, pre- and post-tan care is essential and the choice of brand must be carefully considered. High level market awareness and reputation greatly assists in gaining clients’ trust and can even bring the business in your door specifically for the brand, as is the case with St Tropez.

Both therapists and clients get confused about which ingredients are good, which are bad and which are downright deadly! At the end of the day, it’s what clients perceive to be best for them that will make or break a brand within your business. What you tell them about ingredients is now only one of their many info sources.

One way to ensure that your client enjoys confidence in the ingredients in a brand is to go certified organic Australian brand Eco Tan is the only tanning company to be certified by Organic Food Chain under the strict Australian Government standards. It is also Cruelty Free and contains absolutely no synthetics. Formulating products that create a beautiful, long-wearing tan completely naturally is no simple task, but Eco Tan is getting rave reviews. The colour comes from cacao, which also helps to eliminates the infamous orange tones, so tans are as natural as the ingredients they are made of. St Tropez also has a great natural line, Naturals, which contains Ecocert-certified Vegetan DHA.

Don’t forget to make sure your products pass the sniff test too. No one wants to give away the game by smelling like a soggy biscuit. St Tropez was the first to eliminate the telltale odour, but now with all these excellent brands a carefully selected scent is all they will leave behind them.

All the brands we talked to for this article stress the crucial importance of in-depth training, correct consultation, follow up and customer care. With a new client, there are many questions to ask in order to ensure a great result no matter what style of colour delivery you are using. From lifestyle, to skin type, to preferred colour results, to levels of personal care, to products used at home, understanding the implication of the client’s background is essential to be sure you are going to get the result that the client will be happy with.

Then please directly market your tanning services, don’t just leave them sitting on the menu. Next edition we will present some great ideas on marketing within the destination environment and some fresh ways to package up the tan in a local business. Let’s get tanning delivering the profits into the industry that it is capable of and in the process deliver up very happy, beautifully tanned boys ‘n’ girls.

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