Traditions and innovation in body pampering | Dávid Harangozó

Traditions and Innovation in Body Pampering

Dorottya Vannai
December 20, 2009

Siam Center is broadening its massage profile by heading for new innovation, the Alphasphere. During 14 years of its operation, Siam Center has grown to be the largest company providing Thai massage in Europe with 21 locations in Hungary, and over 20 further more in the Ukraine, the Check Republic, Slovakia and Romania.

Managing director and owner of the chain, Attila Kovács told Diplomacy and Trade magazine that it had been a very prosperous business since the beginning. “Thai culture became very popular in the 90’s. People began to buy bamboo furniture, started practicing Eastern martial arts, even traveled there. Our main aim was to provide very high-standard and authentic environment with authentic and professional masseuses coming from Thailand. I believe, a European masseuse cannot provide the same service, he or she is too stressed, too rapid. Moreover, our masseuses hold a master certificate and several years of experience.”

In the centers, the masseuses welcome the guests in a Thai interior. They offer 2-4 types of refreshing and relaxing massage programs: body, shoulder-back and foot massages, spa treatments with aromas and oils. The objective is to physically and psychically remove pain and tenseness and to achieve a flexible, relaxed condition.

“There was full house, just two weeks after the opening. We opened the second center in the same year. Luxury hotels became interested, too,” continues Kovács. “They realized that if they outsource the massage service in their hotel, it is more economical and authentic. They need not care about employing Thai people, and provide the required high-standard in this special field, too.” Siam Center operating rooms in hotels do not pay rental fee but give a percent of the revenue to the hotel which advertises it among the other services of the hotel.

The economic recession has not influenced the centers heavily. The revenue only decreased 9.5% as opposed to the competitors’ income which sometimes fell 40%. “This is due to the fact that we have many premises in country hotels, too, not only in Budapest” the owner explains. “Fewer tourists have visited Budapest over this period but the number of guests in the country increased. Less Hungarians choose traveling abroad, they stay in country hotels for a wellness weekend and pamper themselves with special treatments like a Thai massage.”

This autumn, Siam Center is broadening company profile with a 21st century innovation. Due to the new business opportunity, the company sells nearly half of its centers and begins to operate a franchise chain in order to finance the new project. Connecting to the Siam franchise as a buyer is low risk with many guarantees for nearly any special situations. The center’s guests do not recognize the change, the high standard remains.

The new owners of the franchise location receive a complex package: a successfully working system, the group of guests, well-preserved interior, professional Thai masseuses, the complete know-how and the franchise rights. Moreover, before signing the contract, they are taught the system and receive information about the revenue and costs of the specific center too. Attila Kovács believes the rate of return is about 26-28 months.

The chain has already sold most of the tendered centers, only 5-6 centers are on sale still. Kovacs explains that “treating the centers separately is better regarding giving discounts, local campaigns….So far, it was automatic; we could not deal with the 21 centers individually. Separate owners can manage to play with the prices, keep everyday contacts with the hotels and receive immediate feedback.”

Siam centers always give discounts at special occasions, for example, at Christmas time. Buying a massage ticket is a very good gift, it can be bought very easily. It is a healthy present, beneficial both for the body and soul. It is also a very good and an adequately inexpensive present (HUF 7-9,000) for employees of a company. There are other discounts also during the year; the centers accept many kinds of discounts and loyalty cards, e.g. recreation voucher, Best of Budapest card or Siam VIP card. Moreover, while purchasing a season ticket for 10 or 20 occasions, not only the buyer but any friends or relatives can utilize the card.

The new project of the company is a futuristic new innovation, called ‘Alphasphere’. It is a multi-dimensional, deep-relaxing experience room which leads the user to an ultra-deep, ‘alpha’ relaxation state with the help of colors, shapes, lights, sounds, vibrations and warmth. The treatment reduces stress, increases calmness, activates natural self-healing powers and enhances creativity.

It is an Austrian innovation that has already received the European Spa Award and other recognition. It is mainly for the spa and wellness sector but also very useful for medical centers, university students before taking exams, and businesspeople. Kovacs says Martin Essl, President of Baumax chain, has already purchased one and often uses it before important meetings or just to relax in the afternoon.

“In Hungary, one of the first companies ordering the Alphasphere was Sejtbank Ltd., which specializes in stem cell treatments. They plan to use Alphasphere before medical treatments. Other partners come from the spa sector: the Sarvar Thermal Bath and the Spirit Hotel in Sarvar, Western Hungary, the Szechenyi Bath in Budapest and some Danubius hotels,” Kovács points out. He plans to open 30 Alphasphere rooms in the next 2 years.

Dorottya Vannai

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