Happy Birthday to Planet Beach


Posted May 6, 2011

Growing franchise company turns 15 as its Contempo Spa concept catches fire

When Stephen Smith opened the first Planet Beach in April 1995, he truly wanted to revolutionize the tanning industry. His goal: to help people achieve that sense of rested well-being that only comes from a day at the beach. So he took his experience in gym management and opened his “Electric Beach” in the Uptown district of

Stephen Smith

New Orleans. The concept took off but the name needed some tweaking. After much thought, it was officially changed to Planet Beach on April 1, 1996, and the beach with attitude began to expand across the country.

Fifteen years later, Planet Beach is in the top fifth percentile of all U.S. franchise companies based on number of locations. “As far as growth, it has been a wild ride,” Smith says.

But truly the most revolutionizing change came in 2005, when Smith repositioned the company and expanded services, launching the Contempo Spa concept. Such forward-thinking helped the system overcome its most tricky challenge to date, the negative press about tanning.

“Our biggest change over the last 15 years was our response to the tanning industry crisis,” he says. “A lot of tanning salon companies never came to the realization that this is real, that overexposure is bad and the best thing to do is just face that reality, change and manage your business accordingly.”

Smith saw the shift as an opportunity. Recognizing that some customers do benefit from moderate UV therapy, Planet Beach also anticipated huge consumer demand for other health and wellness services and expanded into a one-stop spa with an impressive roster of options.

Now, he says Planet Beach’s web traffic is four times the amount generated by Hollywood Tan, a competitor that does not offer the Contempo Spa’s unique automated approach to wellness and relaxation services.

“We are now Planet Beach Contempo Spa, and that has made a huge difference in our same store sales,” Smith says. “It has made us more appealing to a broader market out there and rather than being viewed as a company that isn’t concerned about skin cancer, we are now viewed as a company that is very concerned about skin care and overexposure. And that positioning has worked very well for our brand.”

So well that Planet Beach Contempo Spa is about to embark on a new adventure in honor of its birthday, a custom product line created specifically for sunless tanning. Planet Beach is set to unveil the perfect combination of products to help its customers maintain that coveted glow. pbGLOW™ will hit the shelves in May.

Since the beginning, the goal of Planet Beach has been to instill a sense of mental and physical renewal for all of the guests who walk through the door. And changes at Planet Beach Contempo Spas always keep that goal.

“It is kind of like the Marines,” Smith says. “You adapt and overcome.”

The system’s ability to change and meet new needs is great not only for its members but also its local owners. Wellness is not a passing fad, and people need affordable options to help them lead the lives they deserve.

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