The spa industry in the UAE has received its first, long sought-after benchmarks, revealing that the sector employed more than 1,400 staff and provided spa services to more than 650,000 people last year.
Conducted by Singapore-based independent spa research company Intelligent Spas, the UAE Spa Benchmark Report 2005-2010 identified 65 authentic spa facilities, which generated total industry revenue of AED 253 million (approximately US $70 million) in 2007.
Managing director of Intelligent Spas Julie Garrow said: "In comparison to more mature international spa markets, the UAE spa market is performing well."
"The average starting price of a spa body wrap was AED 348 ($95) in 2007. This is 53% higher than the Thailand benchmark and 17% less than the Australian benchmark," said Garrow.
"Average revenue per visit was AED 386 ($105), in comparison to the average revenue per visit of $72 in Thailand and $117 in Australia," she revealed.
However, Garrow added that as supply increased over the last three years, there has been a decline in some of the key performance indicators.
"Average visitors per spa decreased by 7.6% between 2005 and 2007, however, both the number of average employees per spa and average revenue per spa increased between 2006 and 2007, suggesting a strengthening emerging market," she said.
The benchmarks, which address spa business models, spa revenues, spa industry trends, spa infrastructure and spa menus, are a welcome tool for an industry notoriously lacking in robust data in the UAE and Middle East.
Only in January of this year, Shangri-La Hotel Dubai health club and spa manager Mike Monsod told Leisure Manager of the need for industry benchmarking so as to compare a spa's performance to that of its competitors.
"The spa industry is still, to a certain extent, quite mysterious, even to each other. We don't exchange figures," he said.
Garrow said: "Industry benchmarks are key inputs for reliable business planning as they allow businesses to monitor their performance and recognise industry trends to ensure they become, and remain competitive, while maximising profitability."
"These first performance benchmarks for the UAE spa market empower spas to confidently make decisions in an evolving market," she added.
It is not just Intelligent Spas that is meeting this need for industry statistics and research.
Future spa benchmarking surveys for the UAE and Dubai respectively are expected to be released by Ernst and Young and Dubai Investment Group Real Estate LLC late this year.
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