We Are Sunshine

A Class of its Own: Hybrid equipment is becoming a fundamental element of the tanning business model

Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

First there was UV. Then there was spray tanning. Then came spa diversification. Now there’s hybrid tanning.

In just a few short years, premium tanning equipment that provides an added skin care element and a spa-like experience has emerged as a class of its own in the discussion of the fundamental elements of the modern tanning business model.

Recent groundbreaking innovations in tanning technology from German sunbed manufacturer KBL are setting a new standard in tanning businesses around the country, and there’s no turning back now. Clients who experience the combination of UV with red, blue and yellow light spectrums say they’ll never go back to tanning the old way, and high-end equipment with cutting-edge technology continues to reshape the financial possibilities for business owners. With KBL continuing to expand on its application of multiple light spectrums and LED light technology, it’s clear that this is the future of tanning. If the latest tanning technology hasn’t made it to your market yet, you can expect that it will soon, and you won’t want to compete against it without it.

“It’s really become a necessary part of a salon model. It’s like spray tanning 20 years ago. Hybrid is in that same boat. If you don’t have hybrid, it’s like saying you don’t have spray tanning 10 years ago,” says Smart Tan CEO Matt Russell. “We have to look at keeping our businesses fresh, looking at it in the eyes of the consumer and educating the consumer, but you also have to keep an eye on your competition. You don’t want to be the only tanning salon that’s missing key elements in your business.”

Enhancing equipment lineups and charging more for high-value memberships has been a common theme in the tanning industry over the last 10 to 15 years. It’s not so much a trend at this point, but simply the trajectory of the industry, driven by both necessity and the possibilities created by equipment innovation. It’s a proven formula across the industry, from the largest franchises to single-location independent salons, and the direct financial implications aren’t difficult to recognize.

But in recent years, additional industry trends and the latest equipment innovations have introduced additional considerations when it comes to investing in new, high-end equipment. As the “tanning spa” business model – combining tanning equipment with spa, beauty and wellness options – continues to become more predominant, hybrid tanning technology is essentially combining tanning and spa in one unit. That means this type of equipment can help change the way customers think about tanning, and, in one fell swoop, a KBL P9S can become the centerpiece of both your tanning services and spa services.

When Dion Borkowicz added a KBL P9S to each of his three Lectric Beach Wellness Club locations in Wisconsin, he classified the new equipment as a Spa and Wellness option, rather than tanning. In relation to the rest of his UV options, the P9S is literally in a class of its own. And the ability to position it that way makes a big statement about the way customers perceive the experience.

“We don’t want any issues with people saying, ‘Hey, I pay for the highest level of tanning.’ No. that’s a spa bed.’ You can upgrade to Spa and UV access from $79 to $109, and on the days you’re not using the hybrid, you can come in and tan and spa. People have spa days and come in and do the Cocoon and P9S and spray tan on the way out,” Dion says.

This article is about much more than red light in tanning beds, though. It’s not just about the P9S, either. Most importantly, the conversation is about the equipment of the future. You can’t talk about the P9S without talking about hybrid tanning, but its LED-based SunSphere System that produces red, yellow, blue and UVA light is actually the more significant advancement. Just a few years since the introduction of this technology in the P9S, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Future introductions from KBL will continue to expand upon the application of LED technology with multiple light spectrums, only continuing to solidify new equipment as a class of its own.

Click here to read the entire article in the latest issue of Smart Tan Magazine online.