Please tell us about your success story. How did you come up with this idea, how long have you been working on Thai SPA?
Well, the idea came to me and my friend Vardan Asryan when we were traveling to Thailand. To be honest, I had never visited any type of SPA center, have never had a massage therapy before going to Thailand, and there I had my very first massage experience. The attractive thing for me in Thai massage is that it’s was very different from what we can call the “classic massage”, I’d say it’s more athletic, it uses a lot more stretching, more pressure, etc.
We opened our first Thai Massage center in 2012. Our idea was to make Thai massage a type of entertainment, rather than healing/medical, so we wanted to make it different from what people traditionally associate the word massage with.
And we put a lot of effort for making a very special place which has nice and cozy atmosphere, where you can come with a friend or with your partner. Actually the whole concept is built on the idea that massage can be something enjoyable rather than medical, especially for people who think about massage as a boring activity, and having it together with your partner will fill in all the necessary gaps here. Of course, I personally know a lot of people who say they prefer a solo massage where they can just relax and enjoy themselves, which is also totally fine.
Talking about success, I’d say the key point here was that we were doing everything ourselves – me and my friend Vardan Asryan were the co-founders, we were the drivers, marketing and sales representatives, when needed we were also the janitors, the builders, designers etc., we did everything ourselves, except massage, for which we hired and invited experienced and certified Thai therapists. This helped us save a lot of money in the beginning, and after we were already successful and not buried in financial issues, we opened the second SPA. Soon after that, we got invitations from different hotels. The first one was Opera Suite hotel. They asked us to develop a SPA concept for them, and we went for the same concept we already had, but this time we opted for a more luxurious version, and we had a chance to improve some of the problems we already had in our SPAs, such as locations in the city, small working space, etc. The Thai spa in Opera Suit hotel was a huge success and it brought us new partnerships with other hotels such as DoubleTree by Hilton, Messier 53, Hyatt.
Can you tell us what advantages or perhaps disadvantages there are when cooperating with hotels?
With independent hotels it’s quite easy, we have full freedom of decisions, and we want to do something or maybe change something, we just do it, that’s exactly the case with Opera Suit hotel. But, for example, with Hilton or Hyatt, it’s a different story, because the brand representative should confirm everything. In general, even any type of promotion should be discussed and approved by the brand and in that case, you lose a lot of flexibility and it becomes a bit harder to move forward with your business in the same way you used to. But there is a good side to it too, because the brand actually gives some kind of a guarantee for quality to our customers even before they enter your SPA, also the number of visitors is affected, as the hotel guests can use your services as well, of course this depends greatly, there are hotels where majority of the customers are from the outside, and in other hotels majority are from inside the hotel. One very big disadvantage of having a spa center in a hotel is that the price goes up, and it’s not just a random rise in the price, but in that price range you are able to fit in additional services as well, like jacuzzi, tea session, pool or a hot tub, so that the guest doesn’t get a sense of wasting their money, but they do feel it was worth it because of the additional services they can use.