OUR BRAINS AT WORK Our brains are incredibly complex machines . We can sift through massive amounts of data from the world around us at any give time . To prevent us from short-circuiting , we have to organize all that information .
The reticular activating system ( RAS ) helps with that . A series of interconnected pathways that begin in the brainstem in the back of the brain and extend to the cerebral cortex , the RAS acts as the brain ’ s attention center , helping to organize external stimulus and turn it into conscious thought . Put more simply , the RAS governs our alertness and attentiveness , weeding out less relevant pieces of information so that we can focus on the data that matters . Because it makes sure that our brains aren ’ t overloaded with more information than we can handle , the RAS is sometimes compared to a filter , or even a nightclub bouncer that works for your brain .
The necessity of this filter should be obvious . Without the RAS , it would be impossible to guide our attention to focus on specific sensory experiences . We wouldn ’ t know where to look without it , so it essentially never gets a break . You can test the RAS ’ s impact for yourself . Go ahead , take 10 seconds and listen to every sound around you that you can perceive . You may be surprised at how many of those sounds you don ’ t truly hear unless you ’ re intentionally focused on them . That ’ s due in no small part to your RAS , which decides what is important at a given moment and what can be safely ignored .
THE MAGIC WORD What does any of this have to do with your business ? Well , consider how much information your guests and clients are bombarded with at any given moment . Your marketing , messaging , guidance , education and recommendations make up a part of that total , and if you can ’ t get past that very effective bouncer inside their brains , your efforts to inform and persuade will be much likelier to fail .
“… any aspect of your spa ’ s operations that could be described as “ one size fits all ” or “ copy and paste ” should be scrutinized closely — and possibly thrown out altogether .”
One of the ways that the RAS helps us organize information is by sorting the language we hear into categories of value and relevance . It ’ s why , for example , you might hear your name being spoken aloud even if you ’ re in a crowded , noisy room . Your name is likely the most personally relevant word you could hear , so the RAS is quick to identify it as important . Which brings us to the magic word I mentioned earlier : personalization . Personalized words and actions slip past our so-called bouncer and stay top-of-mind in a way that generic ones cannot . When we feel that we ’ re being attended to in ways that we value , our minds can ’ t help but be drawn in .
Simply put , personalization is the future of the spa industry . That means any aspect of your spa ’ s operations that could be described as “ one size fits all ” or “ copy and paste ” should be scrutinized closely — and possibly thrown out altogether .
It ’ s not enough to merely offer personalized services . After all , customer loyalty and engagement isn ’ t just predicated on receiving a high-quality service ( though of course we all strive to deliver those ), but on unforgettable experiences . And the more personalized the experience — that is , the more it speaks to the specific needs and values of an individual guest — the more precious that experience becomes . Carefully curating these kinds of bespoke experiences and fully integrating them into a spa ’ s operational model is a recipe for driving additional revenue and leaving guests wanting more .
PERSONALIZATION IN PRACTICE It ’ s easy to toss around words like personalization and to make gestures at customizing experiences on a guestby-guest basis , but actually building those experiences can be a real challenge . The thought of doing away with a traditional service menu , for example , can feel scary . The best place to start , as you might guess , is well before a guest steps foot into your spa .
When a guest calls to book a massage , for example , don ’ t be afraid to move quickly from ascertaining the basics of what the caller is interested in to making clear recommendations that speak directly to their specific needs . For example , after getting a sense of the length of massage they ’ re after , inquire about their motivation for seeking the massage . Imagine a conversation that carries on like this : Spa : May I ask if there ’ s a particular reason you ’ re booking this massage and what you would like the outcome to be ? Guest : I ’ ve just been carrying a lot of stress lately . I ’ ve been traveling a lot , and I haven ’ t been sleeping well . I really just need to relax . Spa : I understand . During the
AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2022 n PULSE 33