Virtual Reality headsets are already taking clients to faraway places to be pampered
Jane Smith lives in Shanghai, lives in a multi-storey apartment building, spends three hours a traffic and breathes in polluted air on a regular basis. But at lunchtime she escapes to a tropical beach while getting a pedicure and massage, thanks to the miracle of virtual reality.
Big spas in major cities around the world have suddenly realized that technology provides them with the opportunity to transport their customers to an entirely different scene. They can still provide the standard services, but increase the fees by offering an extra layer of relaxation, of release.
In Chicago, Kohler Waters Spa offers guests a break on a sunny private beach, or on a quiet mountainside or inside a dark and comforting cave – for a price. The “virtual reality pedicure” costs US$95, compared to $79 for the standard pedicure. It won’t be long before the cost of the equipment will be covered.
Up to now, people getting pedicures have sat patiently reading magazines or checking their phones, but they are still in the spa, there is no sense of being “transported” to a new calm world. VR changes that.
Some spas are offering VR as a stand-alone treatment. G20 Spa & Salon in Boston provides clients with a 30-minute virtual meditation session in a forest or under the Aurora Borealis for just US$45. Guests choose the destination of the choice, the headset goes on, and away they go.
There was some resistance at the start, but people are really taking to it now, and seems it is going to be very very popular.”
A meditation center located in a Los Angeles office tower, Esqapes Immersive Relaxation, is offering clients a 30-minute VR session in a massage chair for US$45. They can go to a desert, or snow fields or a “Moroccan resort” – the choice is theirs, and the result is real enough to make people interested in coming back for a repeat of the experience.
“V.R. and the extrasensory components are a key component of the treatment,” Micah Jackson, the C.E.O. of Esqapes was quoted as saying. Meditation involves focusing on something and VR is a route to achieve that.
Virtual Reality can be added to a Spa treatment menu for a low once-off cost in equipment, plus in some cases a monthly license, but the on-going extra labor costs are zero. With many spas facing shortages of qualified staff, this is a great way for owners and managers to increase revenue with no pain.
The VR equipment being used by many spas comes from Guided VR, a US-based company which charges between $150 and $300 per month per headset depending on the size of the spa. Guided VR provides the hardware and also what they call the “relaxation content.”
“When we built the B2B side, we thought that dentists, doctors and elder care would be a much bigger market, but spas are the most interested and willing to adopt,” Josh Farkas, CEO of Guided VR, was quoted as saying.
Spas have long operated with the business model of offering extra services for an add-on charge, and depending on the level of the spa, the expectations of clients, and the quality of the environment and the VR experience, a significant boost to revenues can be attained. Qua Baths & Spa in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, for instance, has increased the price of standard facial from $350 to $555 with the addition of a VR experience. The time for the facial is extended for ten minutes to allow the client to experience the VR world as the therapist massages the client’s body. Then the VR glasses are removed and the facial service begins. “This really allows the guest to be in that moment, to really relax,” Kristin Carpenter, the director of spas and salons for Caesars Palace, was quoted as saying.
Wellness is a huge market, and guests want to both be more beautiful, but they also want to be relaxed and calm. VR has improved to the point now where the technology can really provide that, Virtual Reality is going to take wellness and the spa business to a new level.