Five star dental

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five star dental

The luxury dental spa trend is moving beyond scented candles and into the world of global brand building as more patients seek five-star experiences. By Shane Conroy

Australia’s first luxury dental spas began to emerge in the early 2000s, but the latest generation of high-end practices are taking the concept to the next level. 

It’s no longer enough to scatter a few scented candles around your waiting room and expect patients to swoon. The latest luxury dental spas now resemble a genuine five-star hotel experience—from opulent interior design and concierge-style customer service, right down to the practice’s fundamental workflows. 

Take Spa Dental in the Sydney CBD for example. Dr Lawrence Neville, principal dentist and practice owner, says luxury dental spas are starting to take a different approach to dentistry. He says they’re mixing general dentistry with other popular cosmetic treatments.

“At Spa Dental, we’re taking a more holistic approach to facial aesthetics, and combining other cosmetic specialities with dentistry,” he explains. “For example, a patient might come in for their general dental check-up and clean, and get their botox done at the same time.”

Building a luxury dental spa brand, however, involves much more than tacking on a few additional treatments. Dr Neville says it’s about creating high-end customer journeys that surprise and delight your clientele. To do so, he’s combined rich, inviting interiors with a concierge-style customer service ethos. 

“It’s about making a visit to the dentist more of a want than a need,” he says. 

Surprise and delight

Spa Dental is set in Castlereagh Street’s luxury retail precinct, and looks more like a designer boutique hotel or a VIP room at a glitzy nightclub than a dental practice. Plush soft furnishings, LED strip-lighting and marble finishes create a luxurious lounge bar feel where patients are invited to linger. A series of archways lead patients on a journey of discovery through different sections of the practice that are designed to surprise and delight. 

At Spa Dental, we’re taking a more holistic approach to facial aesthetics, and combining other cosmetic specialities with dentistry. For example, a patient might come in for their general dental check-up and clean, and get their botox done at the same time.

Dr Lawrence Neville, owner, Spa Dental

“For example, we have a customisable area that is a little like a luxury shop window,” Dr Neville explains. “We change the display every six months, so whenever a patient comes back for their regular dental treatment, there will be something new for them to discover.”

Dr Neville says this creates a sense of occasion for patients—and provides an Instagrammable moment. Mirrors throughout the practice are ringed with LED lighting for patient selfies, and two-way mirrors are used to discreetly capture patients’ reactions to smile reveals.  

“We use cameras behind two-way mirrors to film that first emotional reaction when they see their new smile for the first time,” he explains. “It can be a powerful moment, but we don’t just use that footage for marketing. We send the videos to our patients to cement their experience with us.” 

At your service 

But just like a five-star hotel experience, there must be substance beneath the flashy surface. At Spa Dental that comes in the form of concierge-style customer service.

“We recognised that customer service in the dental industry wasn’t really up to scratch. We want our customer service to be the same as you’d experience in a five-star hotel,” says Dr Neville. “When they enter the practice, a concierge greets the patient and is with them through their entire experience. If you walk into Hermes, you’re not left on your own to wander around. They give you a one-on-one customer service experience. It’s very similar here.”

To achieve that, Dr Neville says he deliberately over-staffs the practice. He believes that time is the ultimate luxury, and it’s critical that service staff and clinicians—and therefore patients—do not feel rushed.

“Spa experiences are relaxing and comfortable,” he explains. “We want our patients to enjoy our time with us. Nothing is rushed. If they decide to add a treatment onto their scheduled appointment, we can accommodate that.”

We use cameras behind two-way mirrors to film that first emotional reaction when they see their new smile for the first time. It can be a powerful moment.

Dr Lawrence Neville, owner, Spa Dental

Dr Neville says it’s the little extras that make a big difference. Patients receive luxury gift bags when their treatment is complete, and are invited to spend some downtime in the lounge. 

“We give patients a warm lavender towel before they leave us, and the opportunity to relax before they head back out on to the street.” 

Top of the world 

It’s a mistake to think that luxury dental spas are just a flash in the pan. Spa Dental, for example, is not just about trendy interiors and making a splash on social media. Rather, the concept opens opportunities for potentially lucrative partnerships that go well beyond the purview of the traditional dental practice. 

“We’ve seen the dental tourism trend where people fly to Thailand to get cheap dental treatments. I think that is reversing,” says Dr Neville. “We’re seeing lots of interstate and international patients. They fly to Sydney and stay for a week to get their teeth done as part of a five-star holiday. That creates an excellent synergy between a luxury hotel and a high-end dental spa. We’re currently looking at cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi as part of a global expansion.” 

This approach transports the neighborhood dental practice from the suburban shopping centre into a world of global brand building opportunity. Suddenly your big marketing efforts are no longer limited to putting on a sausage sizzle at the local footy club. There is now scope to build a luxury brand in the same vein as a global hotel group, high-end cosmetics company, or fine-dining restaurant chain.

That could mean we’ll see the next generation of dental practices no longer located between the local hairdresser and the butcher shop, but lining up next to designer fashion boutiques and in five-star hotels as luxury destinations in their own right. 

“It’s all part of the new five-star holiday,” says Dr Neville.  

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