Health Wellness Oct, 20 2011

Soothing success via franchising

By Neha Gohil
Soothing success via franchising

Believing in providing soul soothing and stress busting experience for various segments is Orient Spa. In an interview Sanjana Gupta, Business Head, Orient Spa, shares her entrepreneurial journey.

Neha Gohil (NG): Shed some light on your entrepreneurial journey? How did you conceptualise this business idea?

Sanjana Gupta (SG): We recognised the potential of the spa industry in India early on. Therefore, we decided to setup one in Gandhinagar, which is the garden city of Gujarat. However, as it was not viable to have just a spa-resort at that stage, it was designed as a five-star resort hotel that could cater to various segments such as leisure travellers, the business traveller, as well as day spa visitors.

NG: What is the USP of Orient Spa?

SG: Our USP is to provide affordable and pleasant spa services both as a destination spa, in which people come to stay in a resort setting, and a day spa in which people visit for the duration of their treatment and do not stay.

NG: When and why did you plan to expand via franchise? How significant is this model for your expansion?

SG: Looking at the bright future of the spa and wellness industry in India, we are proposing to commence with the franchisee model of operations very soon.

NG: Do you find competition in the spa industry? What strategies do you adopt to face the competition?

SG: There indeed is competition in the spa industry. Much of it is, however, based on perception and opinion. Nevertheless, spa treatments are still at a nascent stage in many parts of the country compared to many metro cities where people have been exposed to day spas and resort spas. We propose to offer spa services at affordable rates to remove the conception that spas are of elitist nature.

NG: Where all are you present across India (via franchised and company owned outlets) and how many spas you have?

SG: We are as much a hospitality chain as a spa chain. Our company, Neesa Group, operates Cambay Spa and Resort at Jaipur and Gandhinagar as well as the Cambay hotels in Ahmedabad, which also have spas. Presently, we have spas across the country in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Jamdoli, Kukas, Udaipur, Kerala, and Goa. We even have spas on board India’s premier luxury trains Palace on Wheels and Royal Rajasthan on Wheels.

NG: What are your further expansion plans?

SG: Spas are no longer for elitist. The middle-income group also is extremely aware about spas and spa related treatments as they believe it capitalises their lifestyle as well as image. Keeping this view in mind, we have vital expansion plans across the country.

NG: What is your eligibility criterion for a prospective franchisee? What is your preference in terms of area and investment?

SG: A franchisee need to understand the concept of spa and wellness industry thoroughly. The individuals should be passionate and keen on seeing spa and wellness flourish in the country.

NG: What according to you is the scope for aspiring franchisees in the business? Is the future of the industry bright in the years to come?

SG: We would require aspiring franchisees to be financially sound and passionate about bringing about a revolution in the spa and wellness industry. The scope for success for aspiring franchisees in the industry is enormous indeed. Yes, the future of the industry seems to be extremely bright in the years to come.

NG: What kind of training and support do you provide to your franchisees?

SG: Our franchisees can expect thorough training and support in terms of training and manpower. We also have started Orient Spa Academy (OSA), through which we propose to fulfill the training and manpower requirements of the spa industry in general.

NG: What challenges do think your franchisee faces at the initial stage? How can they overcome the challenges?

SG: Currently, there is a lack of trained professionals in the country. At the same time, there is a certain stigma associated with the profession. Furthermore, India has a very narrow base for equipment suppliers and the lack of exposure to spa operations of international standards. These are some of the problems that our franchisees could face at the initial stage. Franchisees can provide clients with more exposure to spa and wellness industry and making people more aware of spas and wellness centers in their areas.

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