Technology and trends are forever changing. Perhaps the only constant among this consistent change is that tech is continuing to play a larger and larger role in our everyday lives and in business’s day-to-day procedures and operations as well. The salon and spa industry is no exception.
Today, customers expect to be able to access salon and spa booking options online 24/7. After all, the majority of experiences in people’s everyday lives are training consumers to prefer and even rely on online booking rather than face-to-face interactions. According to Zenoti data, 70 percent of salon and spa customers prefer online booking over calling in. And, with online booking offering a better solution for business’s bottom lines, as it lowers operational costs, this growing trend has the potential to greatly benefit both customers and salon and spa businesses alike.
Keep reading for more insight on the many surprising benefits of online booking. (You can also check out our infographic on online booking trends.) The data presented in this blog is real data aggregated from approximately 100 salons and spas across the United States.
1. Online Booking is Sticky (In a Good Way)
After a customer gives online booking a try for the first time, the majority stick to this channel for future bookings. Zenoti data has shown that, following the first online booking, 58% customers use only online booking as their booking channel moving forward. Another 22% use mostly online booking to schedule an appointment.
This is because the ease that online booking offers customers over other booking options. Whether it’s finding the right services, finding availability for a preferred provider or finding last minute availability, the online booking has to support the very specific need that a guest has in an elegant way.
2. Guests That Book Online Spend More
Guests who book salon or spa services online, spend more at that business. This spending trend is one that is consistent across salons and spas in varying regions and of varying sizes.
The reason behind customers spending larger amounts when booking online? It’s simple. Those customers who book through a salon or spa’s website software, often visit that business more frequently than guests that call in to book their appointments.
In fact, Zenoti found that customers who book online visit one more time per year, or book 10 days sooner than customers that call in.
Although it’s clear that customers who book services online visit salons and spas more frequently, the reason behind this booking frequency has yet to be determined. It may be that having a booking channel that is easy, intuitive and available before and after store hours encourages guests to book sooner than later. Quick and easy accessibility is a major key to driving engagement for any brand. Another reason could be that your regular guests are the ones that gravitate towards online booking because of it’s ease of use.
Either way, the data clearly demonstrates that online booking provides value that your customers appreciate, which, in turn, translates into increased revenue for your business.
3. Online Booking Improves The Customer Experience And Is Better For Business
The facts say it all—online booking improves the customer experience. Because 32 percent of online spa and salon bookings are made outside of store hours, the option for customers to book around the clock is critical for any business. And, with many customers also choosing online booking even during store hours—online booking is a crucial channel to provide customers with.
According to Zenoti research, 29 percent of first-time guests book their first appointment online. Without offering a high-quality online booking option, your salon or spa could be losing customers. By offering the option to book services online, your business is removing this barrier that often stands in the way of converting website visitors to customers.
Salons and spas that specialize in a certain service, such as facials, lashes, or waxing, have been shown to see very high success rates with online booking. In fact, Zenoti research shows that 66 percent of salon and spa visits booked online are identical to a customer’s previous visit. The same study shows that 72 percent of visits are identical to a customer’s previous visit when salons specialize in a service, making an easy rebooking experience critical. And, for full-service salons that offer a variety of services, making the booking process more complex, a good online booking experience will support the majority of customers to self-book.
What Makes For An Effective Online Booking Experience?
Many salons and spas don’t see successful online booking rates because of one or more usability issues involved with their booking software system.
A poor mobile experience is a serious usability issues as an interface that is not mobile- friendly can significantly reduce online booking success.
In 2018, Forbes found that an estimated 57 percent of all online U.S. traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. Zenoti’s clients, which include salons and spas, show a whopping 70% of customer online bookings coming in through mobile devices.
This clearly indicates that any business should make it a priority to ensure their website as well as every feature they offer customers on their site—such as online booking services—should be optimized not only with a user’s mobile experiences in mind, but that it should should be mobile first. And that mobile first booking experience includes the payment process.
An Intuitive Login
Another usability issue customers may face with various online booking software is difficult or confusing login processes. A customer is likely to abandon the booking process before even beginning if logging into the interface isn’t clear or intuitive.
As the majority of a salon and spa’s online booking users are existing guests, it’s important for an online booking system to recognize the guest. At Zenoti, we’ve made the login process incredibly easy for the customer by recognizing their phone number or email address as the username. The online booking system also relies on the fact that Zenoti maintains single profiles for customers and minimizes duplicate profiles.
For the customer, an intuitive login creates a frictionless and quick experience and the system is able to personalize their experience with things like member pricing and quick access to the customer’s history.
For first-time visitors to your business, it’s important to have an option that allows a customer to easily create a profile, and alternatively to simply book as a guest and not log in at all.
Find Next Availability For A Preferred Provider
Customers often hold a deep loyalty to a specific service provider and customers will wait days and even weeks to get an appointment with their preferred provider at a salon or spa.
Online booking systems should make it easy for a customer to find their provider’s next availability, even if that means the provider is available several weeks from the requested date.
Rich Feature Set That Accommodates All Requests
Additionally, spas and salons may find they’re not achieving high online booking rates for the reason that the particular booking system they’ve chosen lacks quality functionality. For instance, not offering group bookings through your online booking forces a customer to call in or find another business altogether.
Access To The Customer’s Visit History
Other potential functionality issues of some online booking systems include a system making it difficult or impossible for a customer to look up their visit history, and a system not automatically pulling a customer’s profile.
When a user’s profile information is not automatically pulled at the time of login, the online booking process becomes more difficult in the following ways:
- A customer is forced to type out all their profile information again.
- If he or she has a debit or credit card stored on file, he/she need to re-enter payment information.
- A customer won’t be able to view his or her service history.
- He or she won’t be able to use any package benefits, membership benefits, or credits that they’ve earned.
This system functionality issue also presents larger problems for the business as well. Ideally, a guest’s profile remains in the online booking system and is updated with his or her service history. When a system fails to update this information, it will create a new profile for an existing customer, duplicating a profile and creating a poor customer experience.
A Lack of Trust in Payment Security
Lastly, if your salon or spa has previously used an online booking system and not received high online booking rates, it could be the result of customers’ concerns regarding the security of their payment transaction. With online systems, customers often abandon a booking near the end of the process if they are concerned about payment security. If a customer feels your online booking system isn’t secure, that is likely a huge red flag and a reason for the customer to leave your site without booking a service.
Additionally, payments may be an issue for customers with your current system if that software doesn’t accept a variety of payment options.
HOW TO INCREASE ONLINE BOOKINGS FOR YOUR SALON OR SPA
Online booking software has not been successful for the industry to date largely due to the the complex nature of managing bookings for a busy salon and spa. Zenoti software was created specifically to support the many varied and complex booking requirements often associated with salons and spas. And, studies of Zenoti users has shown the result for these salons and spas is higher online booking rates.
Relying on powerful algorithms that emulate a front desk receptionist, Zenoti’s online booking works to:
- Allocate bookings to service providers based on your priority rules. (These rules apply when the customer does not request a specific provider.)
- Operate as well on mobile devices as it does on laptop screens.
- Show provider specific pricing.
- Show membership prices when members visit your website.
Zenoti Features that Send Online Bookings Through the Roof
Front desk staff may have met their match, as Zenoti’s online booking will soon surpass what front desk attendants can do. For instance, if a customer’s requested provider is busy, Zenoti will assess the staff schedule and move other customers that did not request that specific provider to accommodate the guest’s request.
If a customer is booking multiple services, Zenoti software will offer multiple appointment options including breaks between services when the salon or spa schedule is busy. The software also has the ability to determine availability and rooms for couples and group bookings.
Here are some additional main benefits your salon or spa will get to take advantage of when using Zenoti:
- Create super fast booking experiences: Rebook a previous appointment with two clicks on Zenoti and view availability for a provider for the full month.
- Encourage new guest bookings: Zenoti offers an unparalleled ease of booking for first-time users.
- Integrate with your marketing campaigns: Guests can enter discount or coupon codes to redeem special offers while booking services online.
- Offer more choices: Zenoti allows guests to add gift cards to invoices, making for a smoother payment process.
Zenoti data clearly shows that online booking provides spa and salon businesses value that their customers appreciate, which translates to higher spending and better customer retention. If you’re not using online booking software, or if the online booking experience your salon or spa offers isn’t up to consumer standards, you could be losing potential customers and driving existing customers away.
Are you curious to learn more about online booking software? Request a Zenoti demo today to get a sneak peek of how we can help your salon or spa reach its full potential.