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Pool & Spa Living Magazine - November 1999

Cyberspace: A new way to get information

So the tempting swirl of hot, bubbling water has enticed you to buy a spa for your backyard retreat. If you are one of a growing number of savvy shoppers, the first place you’ll head to is the Internet. Almost 80 million Americans have Internet access and 60% of them shop online, according to a recent study byIntelliQuest. "That’s the way I do most of our shopping these days," says Dr. Arnold Diamond of Woodbury, NY, who purchased a ThermoSpas hot tub in October, after learning more about the product on the Web. "We find that we can get information on just about anything we want from the Internet."

Most spa manufacturers have Web sites brimming with information about their products and the relaxation and hydrotherapy benefits that spas and hot tubs provide. The internet has become a major marketing tool. Thermospas’ president, Andy Tournas, estimates that Web inquiries generate 10% to 12% of the company’s orders. Unlike easily shipped, impulse items like books and CDs, spas are major purchases. Just as cyberspace has become a fantastic way to research other big ticket items, like automobiles, the information superhighway offers seemingly limitless data about spas and hot tubs.

How to Begin:

Most quests for information begin at one of the portals or search engines, which can become an exercise IN FRUSTRATION. An Alta Vista (www.altavista.com) search on the word "spa" results in a list of nearly a million Web pages, covering everything from travel destinations and health clubs to portable spas. "I searched for ‘hot tubs and spas’ on WebCrawler (www.webcrawler.com) It gave quite a few sites, about 750, and I looked at about 15," explains Also Napoletano, who used the Web to research his recent spa purchase.

Napoletano clicked through a number of home pages to find companies that had dealers near his Connecticut home. The Napoletanos and Diamonds visited showrooms, but only after they did their initial search on the Net. "The Web sites answered lots of questions, but I really knew nothing about spas and had lots to learn," Diamond says. "I ordered the video, and after viewing it, I made an appointment for a salesperson to visit." Banner ads link many shoppers with manufacturers’ sites. In addition to the list of all the possible Web pages, a search engine query for "spa or hot tub" brings up an advertisement.

One click on the banner takes you to the advertiser’s site, such as Hot Spring Portable Spas (www.hotspringspas.com) or ThermoSpas (www.thermospas.com). Once at a manufacturer’s Web site, surfers can learn more about the products jet’s, controls, seating and features. Corona, CA-based Sundance Spas’ site (www.sundancespas.com) has a "click-on" feature, prompting visitors to point the mouse at a spa photo and click on different areas to learn more about that jet or a particular feature. Many sites allow browsers to take a virtual tour of the factory and offer information about the company’s history, quality assurance testing and warranties.

In addition to facts about the various models and available accessories, Sundance Spas offers information about buying considerations, selecting a location for your new spa and installation tips. Vista, CA-based Hot Spring Portable Spas highlights fun activities for spa users and offers a free subscription to its online newsletter.

At Long Island Hot Tub Spas and Paramount Pools’ online community for pool, hot tub and spa owners (www.poolandspa.com), surfers will find an abundance of information about purchasing, maintaining and using a spa. Sign up for the company’s online newsletter, e-mail "Ask the Spa Guy" a question or share your experiences with other homeowners at the site’s chat room. Keep in mind that anyone can participate in chat rooms, regardless of their expertise (so) don’t take every response as gospel !