An Interview with Abi Wright, Founder at Spa Travel Company: is Europe’s largest, dedicated spa travel company. We began in 2008, when it was just me and two interns, and the company has now grown to more than 90 members of staff representing over 600 spas in the UK and around the world.

Each week, we organise spa breaks for more than 12000 people, and although we are an online company hinging on our website, we have preserved our UK-based, in-house call centre so customers who want to book over the phone and have a chat about recommended spas, can do just that.

We see our job as not simply to sell spa breaks, but to work with spas to create the spa packages that people really want, and then to help people choose the right experience for their occasion and specific requirements.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Before starting I had my own PR company, and I had also been working with a small collection of hotel spas near my home in Berkshire. The two experiences made me realise that there was an opportunity and a need to market spas differently.

The perception of spas was so far removed from the reality, which was and is this wide range of beautiful experiences for everyone. I wanted to help spas realise their commercial potential by helping them reach a broader market, really showcasing everything they had to offer, and creating packages that are experience-led, so if someone has a hen party to book, they know they can easily navigate to a variety of options that suit them.


What do you think makes unique?

I think there are lots of things that make unique. In the initial instance, the idea that you can choose a spa based on a set of criteria that meets your wants and needs, is important – if you want to book a hen party in the Manchester area for a spa day and set a budget, then you can do that all in one place. How we do that however, is also unique – we work very closely with spas and monitor customer feedback and behaviours so we can make sure we are in keeping with customer-driven trends.

Our team is highly trained, so they have knowledge of each destination they’re recommending – they are also an amazing group of people, who I’m proud to work with. We have honed our digital offering over the years to make sure that it’s at the forefront of the industry – there are multiple booking options, multiple ways to communicate with us, and we have integrated with specialist spa and leisure business management systems Core by Premier Software® so spas can show live availability and that all bookings through will be automatically added to their reservation system. This makes life easier for our spa partners, but also means that customers get the most seamless experience possible.

As a company we have clear commercial goals, but we have also always been dedicated to improving the spa industry wherever possible. We have been a leader in making spas more accessible for anyone following a cancer diagnosis, for example. I am part of an All Party Parliamentary Group alongside Carolyn Harris MP, which represented the spa industry during the pandemic, and now works to address topics in parliament such as Menopause and Beauty Banks and ensuring everyone has access to basic hygiene products. I am also on the board of the UK Spa Association, which focuses on improving the quality, training, standards, inclusiveness, and professionalism at all levels within the spa trade.

How has the company evolved over the last couple of years?

Like so many businesses, especially those in the spa industry, the Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on us.

When lockdown was announced on 23rd March, we faced three key challenges:

• The voucher and heavy booking period as well as the nature of cash flow in our business meant that at that date we owed significant funds in booking fees to spas, for trips that could not take place.
• We were faced not only with the total cessation of income as spas closed
• In addition, we had 6000 spa bookers seeking refunds

In less than 24 hours we pivoted our business model, turning almost exclusively into a customer services company for a period of time, handling deferred bookings and refunds.

We addressed the issue of income as well as seeking to improve customer experience by looking at our business plans for the year and completely reworking them to ensure the business had viable revenue streams for the year. We invested in key areas that we predicted would be instrumental to the survival of the business and the sector. We implemented these elements before the furlough scheme was announced. We then reacted quickly when things began to open up again, creating new product categories where needed. As a result, although revenue was down in 2020, we didn’t close for a single day and we have come back stronger in 2021 and 2022 than pre-pandemic levels.

It has always been a pillar of the way that operates, to listen to the customer and to build on that. It was that mentality that led to our creation of spa breaks suited to guests with cancer back in 2012, it is a principle that has led to multiple updates to customer service protocols and booking capabilities as well as package options and categories, and that helped make us resilient through and beyond the pandemic.

Post pandemic we have continued to build on those principles and what we learned. We focus on customer experience, and we have invested to ensure the most streamlined processes for our spas and our customers. As mentioned, one particular update has been the integration with Core by Premier Software®, Sitemnder, Bannatyne and with other key partnerships in the pipeline. For customers, that update is noticeable in the form of a more expedient experience.

We have also updated our branding to reflect a more contemporary feel, and we have a number of fantastic new spas that have joined the collection.

What can we hope to see from in the future?

We have more beautiful spas in the UK joining us, we are further developing of our international collection of destinations, and we are continuously working towards improved customer experience, and we are also doing a lot of work behind the scenes when it comes to supporting women through menopause, but I will say more about that another time.

Our primary goal at is to support the commercial success of spa businesses whilst also delivering really excellent, meaningful spa experiences – we believe, and know from experience, that those two goals are not mutually exclusive.