The Client: Hiatus Spa + Retreat
Hiatus Spa + Retreat was founded in 2007 in Dallas, TX., by Sheila Garrison and Kristin Peabody—two friends who aimed to revolutionize the spa industry by making it affordable for people to de-stress on a regular basis. “We recognized there was a hole in the market in the spa industry. There were beautiful destination and hotel spas that came with a high-end price tag, and then there were massage clinics that were more about therapy than enjoying a day of wellness. We wanted to build a spa that would have the first membership in the country, which we call ‘the H circle,’” said Peabody.
Customers loved it. Hiatus Spa + Retreat has won Best Spa in Dallas almost every year since their opening, and they’ve been steadily growing with additional locations in Austin, Plano, and soon San Antonio. “When we first got started, we borrowed against our 401Ks and applied for an SBA loan; we were on a shoestring budget. We were ready to open our doors with a starter website and logo, but they weren’t optimized to be highly transactional.”
The Challenge: An Outdated Website
Now that they’re planning the opening of their fourth location, success has given Hiatus Spa + Retreat the opportunity to be more relevant with their website and drive more sales and engagement from their customers. “Our website was nice but it didn’t have great functionality. It took too many clicks to get where you needed to be,” said Peabody. “It wasn’t highly transactional so there were a lot of abandoned pages on the site, and we knew we needed to improve the overall user experience.”
There was also an issue of branding. “Our spa has a very warm and welcome, kind of upbeat and irreverent feel that’s lighter than most spas,” Peabody said. Their darker, outmoded website didn’t reflect what they had evolved into as a brand.
The founders sought out Mary Kathryn Paynter, an Austin-based brand consultant, to help them revamp the Hiatus Spa + Retreat brand and website.
“I ran a flower business myself, so I understand how hard it is as a small business owner. You get disconnected from how your brand appears to the outside world, because you’re so focused on the day-to-day getting things done,” Paynter said. “I feel for entrepreneurs because what they’re doing is hard, and they don’t have time necessarily to keep up with what works online.”
With today’s increasingly mobile world, the new website needed to be responsive first and foremost. The old version wasn’t mobile-friendly, so it was difficult for customers to click to contact, find the spa’s location, or make an appointment. This resulted in high exit rates from mobile customers.
Additionally, the new design was image-intensive to align with the rebrand and attract new customers. “Images are a big draw for millennials, and they didn’t have that on the old site. We wanted to give people an idea of what it feels like to be in the spa itself,” said Paynter.
The Solution: HostGator Managed WordPress Hosting
Using high-quality images and optimizing for mobile were not negotiable, so Hiatus Spa + Retreat needed a web hosting solution that could load high-resolution images quickly on a mobile device.
“We’ve been HostGator customers since we started in 2007, and we’ve always had great service,” said Peabody, so they chose to upgrade from their shared hosting plan to HostGator’s managed WordPress plan.
Using HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting meant they could enjoy a seamless upgrade, a much-needed speed boost to help with their mobile traffic, and beautiful high-quality image display. “If we hadn’t chosen HostGator’s WordPress plan, I would be very anxious about posting the site live. I’d worry about all our work going to waste because people would go to the site and the image wouldn’t load,” Paynter shared.
And it was easy. “It took us longer to track down our login info than to actually upgrade!” Paynter said. “It literally took five minutes.”
The Results: A Beautiful, Mobile-Friendly Website
Their new website and rebrand not only evokes the feeling of being in one of their spas, it makes it easy to schedule an appointment, too. “We have a direct booking link on the site now,” shared Peabody. “Sheila and I are big environmentalists, so we’ve always tried to be as organic and green as possible from beginning to end in our operation. Our internal forms are all digital, and now that we’re taking guest profiles and paperwork online with the new website, we can go entirely paperless. Plus, once people walk in the doors, they don’t want to fill out paperwork; they want to start relaxing.”
“We loved the wide variety of themes that are available with WordPress, especially because many don’t even require much coding. Our theme came with a drag-and-drop builder so it was super simple to use in designing. We also loved that the parallax functionality lent the site that immersive spa feel we were going for,” Paynter raved. “Plus, the great thing about WordPress is the management system. You can easily swap things out moving forward, so updates aren’t a big deal.”
“With our business growing throughout Texas, you have to plan for the future, and technology is a big part of that,” said Peabody. “Our new website takes our brand to the next level.”
There’s a reason why nearly 80 million websites use WordPress. It’s a robust content management platform that allows endless customization, all while staying accessible to those of us who aren’t web developers.
Amelia Willson is a freelance writer, content marketer and SEO strategist who helps businesses succeed online. A graduate of Wellesley College with a degree in English, she landed on a career in marketing where she spends her days trying to crack the code of Google’s mighty algorithm and blogging for various online publications. When she’s not busy working, you can find her running around Austin, Texas, with her dog Rockefeller or blogging about Disneyland.