Together we will present broader spectrum of wellness: Bhavna Vohra

Short Description
After the merger, Heaven on Earth Wellness Pvt Ltd is one company and Serena spa won’t have a legal entity. In fact, it will be a brand owned by and part of ‘Heaven on Earth’ family.
  • Sunil Pol
Restaurant India

Heaven on Earth, India’s biggest airport spa chain has acquired Serena Spa, one of the oldest spa companies in Asia.

Post acquisition Bhavna Vohra, Co-founder, Heaven on Earth (HoE) spoke to Edited Excerpt:

What was the prime objective behind merging HoE with Serena Spa?
It’s a merger of three spa companies- Serena Spa Maldives, Serena Spa India and Heaven on Earth (HoE) Wellness. All the three brands have been categorized in three specific criteria. Firstly, Serena spa, one of the three luxury brands, will mainly be in luxury hotels and resorts. Second would be Spazure, which is slightly lower spa brand for four star hotels and boutique hotels, resorts and high streets. And finally, we’ll have the HoE spa express, which will be present at airports and hospitals only.
   The objective behind coming together was Spa business, which has evolved manifold in the past couple of years. and today, we want to present a much broader spectrum of wellness. What people perceive spa is - a massages center. However, our aim is to get into much detailed spectrum of wellness culture.

Why didn’t you expand your own market presence first?
HoE is the leading airport spa operator while Serena is a renowned as hotel and resort spa operator. Thereby, the combined forces into one space (wellness industry) would be an interesting combination. Together, we are the expert in a much broader area of wellness industry than either of us would have achieved alone.

How much investment you made in this strategic alliance?
We have invested about Rs 40 crore. In the next 12 months, we expect to invest around Rs 20- 30 crore more while continuing with the growth momentum of 10-15 per cent year-on-year (YoY) in the next two to three years.

How this merger will help HOE to offer more enhancing consumer experience?
This combination will work well for us. With this integration, we would be able to gain the experience, build on it and make it little stronger. We would be able to give our consumer not only the added advantage but the whole processes. There is a lot of leverage which we will be able to take on each other’s experience and make our processes better.
   Our wellness center is about experiencing physical, emotional and mental rejuvenation. With the sustenance, we are being able to add value to consumer. It is not only about giving services to the consumers, but it’s about educating them too. Therefore, in the next three to six months, all our marketing and promotion strategies will focus on consumer benefits and enhancing the wellness quotient of the consumers.

With this which innovative services you will offer?
1. We will have bouquet of services. Recently at the airport we have introduced self learning meditation programme, where people can get the audio and learn few tricks to auto and meditate in the flight, simply to make their journey more pleasant.

2. We want to integrate the learning in the spa experience and engage our consumers well. Now, we want people to be involved in curing themselves. For instance, if one has neck or lower back problem, we would teach them how to avoid sitting in wrong posture at office by adjusting the computer screen or office furniture.

3. We will focus more on wellness experience in all our centers in order to change the conventional view of the spa as a massage center. There are different types of massages like Thai, Swedish massage or Deep Tissue massage, which we want to move away from just a luxurious pampering. We want people to understand that wellness is something essential to be included as part of their lifestyle.

How HOE will offer these services in a distinct way while maintaining the brand identities?
There are two reasons for it; on one hand, this merger will give us advantage and opportunity to maintain services for a clear target segment, which is very different for all our other brands. While, the other is the identity of each of our brands being defined by our target audience, this means, one spa will be located at one spot and there will be no mix of brands.

For this, how will you manage your skill force?
Training is very critical for spa operator and that is another advantage of coming together. Each one of us has our own training facility for skill development. One instructor can train many staff members. So there are huge economies of scale- both in terms of physical facility and faculty. We really look forward to drive economies of scale, efficiency and quality of training.
   Right now, we have Serena Spa and HoE training institutes which we want to combine. The institute will service all our spas and simultaneously, there will be recurrent training onsite in our wellness centers.
This new combined large training institute will be set up in the most appropriate location- apart from metros as the cost of real estate is very high for efficiencies, economies of scale and the quality of output.

What is your future plan of acquisition of spas like Serena?
Nothing as of now, we want to continue with the expansion and growth of these three brands across the globe. We will stay with our strategy to grow with airport, hospital and hotels. We want to move away from luxurious pampering spa to much more involved and evolved wellness concept.

Who are your target consumers and what’s the average ticket size?
Our target consumer is between mid 30 to 50 age group brackets. It used to be a luxury affair earlier and now it’s available for common man as well. As lifestyle focus on wellness is changing, people are getting more health conscious. We see a lot of executives coming to our spas. The average ticket size depends upon the location, target consumer and the category of brands and it’s anything between Rs 2, 000 to Rs 6, 000.
According to you how critical the today’s consumer is?
What we have seen over the past 15 years is that we use get a lot of first time customers in our spa and today almost nine out of ten happen to our spa before. Consumer is becoming more educated as the industry is becoming more mature. Consumer is becoming demanding, lot of people been travelling abroad and compare us with international spas, they have been very critical. To stay relevant with today’s consumer one need to have much larger expertise.
   This means to be on the top of the game we should have greater focus on having the highest possible standards in the execution of wellness services whether it’s a haircut, a massage, training in Yoga, training in meditation or any of the service. The quality should go up, improve training, product and service research. In the current scenario the opportunity to convince consumer that there is more which you can do to your wellness is also higher.

What are your expansion plans with exploring diverse geographies?
We will keep expanding in India in Metros, tier I and II cities along with venturing into new countries across the globe. Serena is already in Maldives, Seychelles and Spain too. Further, we are looking at Middle-East, Europe and almost any region where we feel that there is potential.
   With this merger in total we have 40 spas (wellness centers) and in the next two years we are planning to have 60-70 centers across India and abroad. We are the country’s biggest airport spa operator and visioning to become the largest player in the world in the next three to five years. We are not focusing on expansion for the sake of expansion. We want very controlled growth with quality, profitability and widening our philosophy of wellness.

What are you plans of online expansion?
It’s a clear today that one cannot exist without online presence. We will launching an app, online loyalty programme, online campaign and will be on social media. Thus, we will further develop our interactive website for each and every brand to be relevant to our guests.
   We are selling services not a product and e-commerce is not relevant for the services. At online consumer can make a booking for a given spa of one location at a time and can buy gifts cards and valentine day gifts. To a certain extend we may have products to buy online and we can ship those products.

What is the gender ratio of consumer in your spa?
It depends upon the hotel or the airport. At the airport its 30 per cent women and 70 per cent men and at the hotel it’s a similar ratio but slightly higher with men. Internationally larger proportion of women is almost 50:50 whereas in India more men are going to spa. Internationally, in countries like USA, much beauty treatments are performed. Here consumer mindset of going to spa is for massages than for beauty treatments like facials, waxing etc. In India there is a tradition that the beauty treatments are only done in beauty parlors.

How you are catching up with the trend of ayurvedic treatments?
Ayurveda is just used as a concept to sell and we don’t want to fall into that. Ayurveda is basically a curative medical treatment against western medicine and we have no ambition of curing people in our spa. We want to improve the wellness status of people.
   Ayurveda is one part of Indian therapy; there are a lot more which India can actually offer in wellness. Our endeavour is to bring about all those things which are Indian and are really not spoken in the spa and wellness industry, to make sure that we get that Indianness in Indian services and get them in a style which is very contemporary and very appealing to the customer.

What is your current revenue and how this merger will add to your growth?
We are projecting to have Rs 50 crore of revenue for the fiscal year 2016-17. And, we expect it to grow 20 per cent YoY. Our present turnover is Rs 20- Rs 25 crore and the investment is self funded.

What is your view of Indian spa Industry?
The latest figure I have come across about Indian spa industry is of $8 billion. The industry is growing by 10-15 per cent YoY.

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