Delaying the need to invest in expensive shops and showrooms, the hot tub hire market has been providing a useful first stepping stone for would-be spa retailers for many years. Now, more established water leisure businesses, looking to diversify in order to bring in much sought-after cash flow, are dipping their toe into the hot tub hire market. “More spa dealers are looking at the potential of the hire market to increase not just their cash-flow but their prospect lists,” confirms Chris Alcock of Interhiva UK. “They are seeing that this market offers the chance not just to diversify their business but to create new sales opportunities. “The main benefit is that more people get to experience a hot tub and may want to find out more about becoming a hot tub owner,” Chris adds. “The down side is that the experience of a hire tub will probably not match the superior benefits and enjoyment experienced using a product designed for hydrotherapy as well as socialising and fun.” Interhiva offer the Lifestyle Hot Tub range including the R50 and R61 models that are particularly suited to hot tub hire. Easy to operate, these rotational moulded spas are both strong but lightweight so can be easily moved and positioned. Other suppliers include Softubs, Rotospas and Canadian Spas who all supply models that are lightweight and easy to move around. Sapphire Leisure, of Bicester, Oxfordshire, has offered hot tub hire for about six years. “We have seen an increase in hot tub hire and this has helped to sell some new spas as we offer a package to have your money back on the hire spa if you purchase a new spa,” says Andy McBride of Sapphire.
Sapphire hire out four 2m round tubs which are regularly hired out all year round on a non-seasonal basis but with particular peaks around Christmas and New Year. They work within a 100 mile radius using their own transport and their own spa trolleys. Cutting down on the deliveries and transfers, Sapphire offers monthly hire periods where possible and can manage up to 40 hire per year. “We provide all details on health and safety and chemical guidance as well as giving practical demonstrations on water treatment,” Andy emphasises. Robin Matthews of 1066 Pools in East Sussex is another hot tub hire advocate. He says the main pitfall of hot tub hire can be the vast amount of time taken to deliver and collect which can make for a lot of hidden costs, with clients not being available at pre-arranged times and the inevitable unforeseen access issues. “We always make sure each customer gets a brand new filter for each hot tub hire. “The state of a hire tub’s filter when we collect can be ‘interesting’,” Robin reveals. “We try to put some rubbish into the customers’ bin rather than in the van,” he says. Damage to rental tubs can be a problem, one hire last year totally destroyed the spa cover. Robin advises: “In a claim culture, when it comes to hot tub hire, make sure about public liability insurance and that your insurance provider specifically cover hot tub hire and confirm it in writing.” The 1066 team handle deliveries themselves using the company’s own van and trailer. “We rent rigid hot tubs as we don’t think inflatable or kit form spas are up to the job,” Robin says. Typical hire triggers are for anniversaries, hen parties and birthdays, occasionally for children but more often for adults. Christmas and New Year are popular but moving tubs around in the winter can be challenging.
Robin recalls: “Last New Year I had to roll a hot tub along the shingle beach onto the patio of a beach front property! “Another time we hired a tub that was put in a conservatory all decorated with bunting as the customer held a royal wedding party and watched proceedings on a large TV from the hot tub,” Robin says. Timothy Childs started Hot Tub Hire UK in April last year with just four tubs. Now running six hot tubs with one spare, he operates in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and London charging £99 per week plus delivery charges with a Christmas and New Year premium of £150 per week. “After doing an open weekend at my local shopping centre with a half price offer, the bookings have been coming in thick and fast since,” reveals Tim. “Now as an established hot tub hire company, I also get a lot of repeat business and referrals from happy clients.” Tim says his client base varies from young children wishing to have a little bit of a different party, or students wishing to enjoy their ‘freshers week’ in style and be the talk of the town. He says some customers hire hot tubs to help with sports injury and the elderly like the tubs for health benefit reasons. Also, he points out, what could be better than a Valantine’s day surprise for a partner after a romantic meal. Tim says: “The tubs do get hired out all summer from about April through to October with not many slots free. “I don’t charge a deposit or cancellation fee but we rarely get people cancel. “We do not have much of competition in the area and this is giving me a good start to expand the business,” he says.
Hot Tub Hire UK set up the tubs, fill them with hot or cold water depending on the customers’ choice. Tim explains: “If they have a combi boiler we can fill with hot, as we have all the hoses and connections to do this; there hasn’t been any occasions where we have not been able to do this. “We provide all the chemicals and show how to check the water quality and visit every two days to double check this ourselves and change the filter, add shock, and vacuum grit out the bottom. “This always ensure the tubs water quality is the best and clear for the duration of the hire. The Canadian Spa Haliburton model that Tim favours are flat-packed and therefore fit into a small van that can easily offer capacity to deliver three hot tubs in one day. Tim supplies the tubs with steps and an attractive leather cover. “Compared to other flat pack and inflatable models, these tubs are superior. I believe these to be the best portable hot tub on the market,” Tim declares.
EASY TO USE
“The tubs have an easy to use control panel, freeze protection and a filter/skimmer unit. The only issue we generally get are a clogged filter as they could be a bit bigger as the tubs do get used a lot more as they are only at the site for a week,” Tim adds. “The heater is only 1.5kw so does lose the heat over time although we have not had any complaints and have had the tubs out in the snow and -5 degC. “As a company, we offer extras; we offer large parasol hire to cover the tub come rain or shine, spa bar for food and drinks, and gazebo hire,” Tim comments. “We changed our minds in hiring the disco lights as they kept coming back broken, and the patio heaters were always put too close to the tubs so we got rid of them for safety reasons,” says Tim. Scott Kirby added hot tubs to his existing tool-hire business back in 2009 trading as the Hot Tub Hire Yorkshire company. “Due to the recession and the massive decline in demand for building equipment we looked into various alternative hires available. We took the plunge to invest in a couple of hot tubs and as the saying goes, never looked back,” says Scott. “The growth has been steady and consistent over the last three years. Most of the business is generated from people attending hot tub parties, enjoying them and wanting to replicate the fun at their own functions. We are now seeing a lot of our customers hiring several times a year from us.” Hot Tub Hire Yorkshire stock 25 tubs in three different sizes. They have found the Strong Spas 5/6 seater Rio to be the most popular size although the larger Strong Spas 7/8 seater Tahiti is proving very popular for the larger parties and functions. Says Scott: “The Tahiti benefits from outstanding aesthetics and markets itself, which was our main motivation for choosing this as our flagship hot tub.”
“Our customers cross all age groups of society and all social backgrounds from families who have used a hot tub whilst on a skiing holiday or a country lodge, who just want to reproduce the experience in the comfort of their own surroundings, to the younger end for children’s parties, 18th or 21st celebrations,” he continues. “We provide guidance on its use and maintenance, along with provisions of chlorine, testing strips and written instructions to ensure the hirer is fully aware and has the necessary tools to maintain a safe hot tub experience,” emphasises Scott. With Bank Holidays, especially Christmas and New Year, the busiest period, Hot Tub Yorkshire deliver to a 50 mile radius from its base in Bradford, West Yorkshire, transporting the spas via its own fleet of vans and adapted transporters. Typical hires are a four day weekend. Being located in Yorkshire presents additional challenges to the delivery team that generally has to overcome narrow walkways, steep steps and tight corners. But the positives far outweigh the negatives, as Scott says: “Due to the continued recent growth trend in the use of hot tubs, especially in mainstream reality TV programmes, we feel that the public demand for private hot tubs will continue to increase, certainly in the short term. “We look forward to continual growth and more of the same positive feedback from our customers as we feel that good customer service and recommendation is key to our future business.” For spa and hot tub dealers, hot tub hire could provide a catalyst for not just added income but also for potential sales and merits consideration in an economic climate where all avenues need to be explored. The recipe for success appears to be in the planning, length of hire and in maximising the potential for added value sales. When it comes to hot tub hire – come on in – the water is fine.
1066 Pools Ltd.
Tel. +44 (0)1424 870505
Hot Tub Hire UK
Tel. +44 (0)7540 233966
Hot Tub Hire Yorkshire
Tel. +44 (0)1274 411842
Tel. +44 (0)1403 210261
Tel. +44 (0)1869 327698