While they might not fit too easily underneath a Christmas tree, hot tubs can make the perfect holiday gift. What other present provides its recipients with such relaxation and wellness benefits — and from the privacy of your own home every day of the year?
Getting customers to see the benefits of giving a hot tub for the holidays (or just buying one for themselves) isn’t as difficult as it might seem. It only requires knowing your customers, mastering a few key marketing techniques, and tapping into that holiday spirit of giving and receiving. Follow these three tips to achieve a successful holiday promotion.
1. Strategize early
December 1 is not the time to begin thinking about how to move more hot tubs during the holiday season. Instead, it’s best to start planning early and target customers long before they begin their holiday shopping.
“[Getting] people to start thinking about buying a hot tub as a Christmas gift once they’re in the store is kind of like closing the barn door after the cows are out,” says George Dalhamer, owner of Hot Spring Spa of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.
He recommends enticing customers to come into the store early with holiday-themed package offers. For instance, he has offered a package where customers can buy a hot tub and get a sauna for a penny. Other times they could receive a free grill with the purchase of a hot tub. Or you may want to take this opportunity to promote end-of-the-year close-outs. Either way, it’s best to promote big-ticket items, such as hot tubs and even barbecues, as great holiday gift ideas.
And while it may be impossible to develop a package deal that will appeal to everybody, they’re enough to pique homeowners’ interest and draw attention to the store, Dalhamer says.
Develop these packages well in advance so you have ample time to properly promote them via a combination of radio and television advertising, as well as internet and social media marketing.
Of course, the price point of the products will vary, depending on current market trends. But no matter the cost, retailers should always remember to mention financing. Around the holidays who wouldn’t appreciate the ability to pay off a big-ticket purchase all the way into the spring months or beyond?
2. Make new friends but keep the old
The holidays are a great time to reconnect with consumers who have been in the store before, but have put off purchasing a hot tub for one reason or another.
“A lot of times that’s enough to trigger it,” says Mark Flohr, owner of Flohr Pools in Chambersburg, Pa. “They’ve been in, they’ve had interest before, and they need some sort of gift [for the holidays].”
Among this group, perhaps nothing amps up hot-tub holiday sales like a private event. Offering them a discounted rate before they’re available to other customers creates an air of exclusivity.
“Everyone likes to feel special,” says Jeff Brooks, retail sales manager for Aqua Quip, based in Seattle.
The company invites existing leads via personalized email. Since these events are held during the fall and winter months, they’re typically hosted inside the store after regular business hours on a Thursday or Friday evening. Brooks recommends mentioning that customers who attend the event will be offered the best savings of the year as well as the best selection.
Regardless of the promotion, email blasts are a popular tool among spa retailers, and Flohr finds them especially appropriate for reaching out to former prospects during the holidays. His promotions often tie in to an end-of-the-year close-out offer, but he has taken it a step further — sending out his holiday email blast with pictures of Santa Claus posing in the store with a variety of hot tubs. “People got a kick out of it,” he says.
Indeed, Aqua Quip sends e-blasts to its entire database of more than 50,000 addresses. “When we do an email blast it really does drive results,” Brooks says.
3. Build a memory with extra service
Holiday deals and discounts may bring more shoppers through your front door, but going the extra mile during the transaction can nurture the seeds of loyalty by making your store stand out as the go-to retailer.
Aqua Quip goes above and beyond the call of duty by offering Christmas Eve hot tub deliveries at no extra charge. And if you’d like a giant new-car-caliber red bow wrapped around your new hot tub, there’s no additional charge for that, either.
The retailer is even willing to sneak hot tubs through garages and into backyards in order to keep the units a secret until the desired moment of surprise. The company typically works with the customer to coordinate a delivery time when the gift recipients will be out of the house. But managing the surprise itself (e.g. keeping them out of the backyard until morning) is left up to the customer, Brooks says.