We Are Sunshine

Tanning is Evolving: Hybrid technology is the most significant equipment innovation in decades

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Sarah Shumake’s customers call it the “spaceship” and the “Rolls Royce,” and that’s just the impression they get from the stunning appearance and high-tech amenities of the KBL 8000 hybridSun she introduced at her Georgia salon in March.

“If you bring a customer back to show them the bed, their mouth literally drops,” Shumake, owner of Paradise Cove Tan Spa, says. “They’ve never seen a piece of equipment like that. They have all kinds of nicknames for it. When you start talking about the features, they’re like, ‘Wow, tanning has changed so much.”

Indeed it has. While the look of KBL’s latest and greatest equipment is certainly futuristic, it’s what’s “under the hood” that represents the most significant development in tanning technology in decades – or perhaps even since commercial tanning equipment was first created. KBL’s P9, 8000, 7900 and 7000 models now combine the most advanced UV tanning technology with beautyBooster hyperREd LED red light lamps to provide a more skin care-focused tanning session. In combination with the ability to adjust UV lamp output based on the consumer’s individual needs, tanners can enjoy a completely customized tanning session with the added beauty benefits of red light exposure.

“I think the tanning industry has been kind of looked at as UV only, and now we can incorporate more beauty and skin care. It’s another element and feature within our product to attract new prospective tanners. It’s not all about UV anymore; it’s about UV and skin care,” says Paul Manke, Vice President of Sales at PC Tan, a distributor of KBL equipment.

The future is now! These units are already drawing in countless new customers and driving upgrades to the highest membership levels in salons around the country, with the appeal of tanning beds like nothing clients have ever seen before.

“Once we got the beds – the 8000 especially – we would have a line. People would not want to use the other top-level beds. We ran out of the [aquaCool] mist in the first two weeks because it was used so much,” says Jordan Brittenham, District Manager for At The Beach Tanning. “That location has doubled in traffic, and we hear it’s because of that bed itself. Everybody travels to that store just to use that bed.”

Various salons report that when they show their customers these units, moving them up to their highest level EFT is practically a given. After operating a tanning business in Florida for many years, Rhonda Culligan moved to Tennessee and started fresh with Sunsational Spray Tan Spa. With highly competitive pricing and two KBL 8000s as part of her all-inclusive membership option, she says she’s signed up 88 percent of customers that walked through the door since she opened. And, at least 50 of her new members switched over from a major chain competitor.

In the bigger picture, this type of sunbed could represent even more for our industry. With the tide already seeming to turn in favor of improved perceptions of the effects of UV light, the enhanced skin care capabilities signify another substantial way to appeal to people who still hold misconceptions about tanning or have been too concerned about potentially aging their skin in the past. With a significant focus on sunless customers in her business, Culligan has already seen the impact on customers that usually favor spray tans. “For people that don’t love UV, I can put them in at that 50 percent intensity level for five minutes to get them the red light as well,” she says. “It is 100 percent a spa experience and not just about UV.”

“We may recapture people we lost that were worried about skin sensitivity, but we also may capture people who may never have tanned, because you can turn off the UV on your face and get three levels of red light intensity on your face,” says Bill Pipp, Vice President of Sales at Tanning Supplies Unlimited, another distributor of KBL equipment.

“There are a lot of people going to doctors and aestheticians for red light, and that’s the same as what we offer. I think you have an opportunity to reach out to a different segment of consumers and recapture some customers that may have shied away from tanning because of negative press.”

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