When was the last time you entered a business and felt a sense of bliss and peace the moment you walked in the door? What triggered those feelings? Was it the luxurious environment? The lavish furnishings? Or was it the attention to details and impeccable customer service? Michele Pelafas, a leading interior designer in the spa and salon industry for more than 20 years, says the modern definition of luxury encompasses much more than furniture and finishes.
Defining a Luxury Experience
While an elevated design is key, Michele says quality, comfort and service also define luxury in the salon industry. “Typically luxury has been associated with meticulous workmanship and a sumptuous atmosphere,” she says. “But that’s changing. Today, luxury is less formal, more defined by memorable experiences, personalization and mindset”. The new luxury is also about building relationships and connecting an environment with the person to make them feel extra special. It has unique brand consistency that is reliable in all areas to give the feeling of exclusivity.
“Simply put, in today’s market, when it comes to quality, comfort, service and uniqueness, you cannot be middle-of-the-road,” Michele says. “That’s the nature of the industry we’re in. To be successful in the service industry, you must consider today’s luxury principals because the consumer demands it.
How to Transform Your Space
To have a true luxury interior, you must have a trifecta of results driven services, excellent guest support and an interior that is one of a kind and extra special. This is where Michele comes in.
“I start by helping an owner formalize a vision of what and how they want the guest’s journey to look and feel like. We then create a brand strategy and customize the interior accordingly.” she says. Materials and finishes are one area Michele focuses on, but she also pays special attention to unexpected details that create visual distinction and client comfort. “It’s not just about putting in a quartz or stone countertop,” she says. “Special touches like fresh flowers and meaningful artwork are important. Or instead of adding a water feature, we customize a sculptural focal point that has lighting integrated into it.” It’s about creating concepts that places value on authenticity, sustainability, tradition, wellness and longevity – attributes not easily replaceable and often difficult to replicate. “Mediocracy is not acceptable in this industry,” Michele continues. “Even in an economical barber shop, the client walks in expecting to watch his favorite sport on TV and get a warm neck wrap.”
Not sure how to differentiate yourself? Michele recommends visiting Five-star hotels or other businesses in your area that offer originality in both design and service to see what they’re doing. “You can often translate some of these experiences to the salon,” she says. “For example—the decadent chocolate that you found on your pillow at the Four Seasons? Maybe you offer an unexpected treat to your guests with their receipt at check out.” Consider details that exceed expectations and please the senses.
Creating a Luxury Brand
The luxury experience doesn’t stop with a beautiful space. The “luxury” message needs to carry through your marketing, services and products, too. When Michele works with a salon, she and her team collaborate with the salon’s marketing team, weighing in on colors, finishes, fonts and more. “The consistency of brand elements must be maintained at all times to provide continuity of the brand which drives customer loyalty,” she says. “When marketing, brand identity and the interior come together, it becomes luxury.”
And today, luxury is obtainable. Its finding balance of what details will matter most, determining how you can create a customized experience & interior, and where to spend your budget dollars wisely. “Luxury isn’t about spending top dollar,” she says “but rather being enveloped in something uniquely beautiful, thoughtful and quality.” And it all starts with the owner’s vision of what they want their client’s journey to be. Luxury is then established through the unique and memorable details that become part of the experiences that your guests take with them. It is found in the inherit character of the space and how it positively resonates with your guest to keep them coming back for more. Inspiring design creates great business opportunity.
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