More often than not, business travelers need to look their best while they’re on the go, which can be tricky in a hotel room…especially if you’re not inclined to check your bag and bring your full bathroom cabinet with you. By being co-located in hotels, we serve not just the discerning guests, give the hotel a service option that adds value for them, as well as serve the local community.
As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erika Wasser, a former TV host for HGTV and standup comedian turned beauty entrepreneur. Inspired by the efficiency and quality of the green room glam experience she received before going on camera, she grew frustrated with typical lengthy blowout experience offered by traditional salons and blow dry bars, which often left her choosing between working out and other activities — there simply wasn’t enough time in the day! In 2015, she pitched the concept of a two chair blow dry salon that specializes in blowouts in 30 minutes or less to her first partner to be right where women need hair services the most. The first Glam+Go opened just 35 days later. Under Erika’s leadership, Glam+Go has grown to 14 locations in four cities with iconic partners such as Fairmont, the Gansevoort Group, Shore Club, Equinox, exhale & more, as well as two standalone flagship locations (full-service salons).
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I began my career in TV, both behind and in front of the camera. When I was between shows, I really missed the green room glam experience of sitting down and being in front of the camera 30 minutes later. I’m completely incapable of doing my own hair, so relying on salons and traditional blow dry bars — which had inconsistent results and often took up a huge portion of my day — just wasn’t working. I knew I couldn’t be the only woman who felt this way, so I pitched the concept of a pop up blow dry bar salon at the Upper East Side exhale Spa (where I was working out at the time). Glam+Go opened 35 days later.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Every day has been an interesting story since we first opened our doors! I think one of the more interesting things to happen was in our early days…At the time, we were nothing more than a roll-away cart, a blow dryer and a clipboard within a locker room when out of the blue, Good Morning America called. They wanted to include us in a segment (amazing!), but asked if we had a website. As you might imagine, given that our process involved a clipboard at that time, we certainly didn’t have a website. Long story short: a friend, a bottle of chardonnay and an all-nighter later, we had a website and were able to be placed in the segment. That clip helped us scale our business
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We provide a service that women need — efficient, high quality hair services at an approachable price — right where they need it when they’re on the go: in their hotels and in their gyms. One of the first times I realized we had something special was when we opened our Santa Monica Fairmont location; I was out in LA for work and ran into one of our NY regulars at the salon! As a frequent traveler, it’s a perfect service for her, and the fact that she sought out our new location for her trip meant so much. These days I love getting to know our members (many of them subscribe to our unlimited blowout membership, which is transferable between all our locations) as we all travel around the US!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
Recognize that you can’t do everything yourself and that you can’t do everything in a day. Operating and managing a business takes time, and while you want to resolve any issues efficiently, you need to be realistic. Also, occasionally calling it quits for a 4:00 p.m. glass of Fleur de Praire rosé can be one of the most healing things for your mental well being!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am indebted to my dad for his impact on Glam+Go — he is brilliant and has amazing business experience, so we talk daily about everything from new concepts to operational issues. While we don’t always agree, his insight is invaluable.
Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
While our original business model primarily targeted busy women on the go — and we very much still cater to her — our business has really evolved to better serve the traveler by being co-located in hospitality properties like Fairmont (we actually just opened our 2nd location with Fairmont in the beautiful Fairmont Georgetown in Washington, DC), Shore Club and Dream. More often than not, business travelers need to look their best while they’re on the go, which can be tricky in a hotel room…especially if you’re not inclined to check your bag and bring your full bathroom cabinet with you. By being co-located in hotels, we serve not just the discerning guests, give the hotel a service option that adds value for them, as well as serve the local community.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
With the rise of remote working, email on our phones, 24/7 accessibility and so on, people are busier than ever. No one has the kind of time to go to a blow dry bar for an hour and a half just to get ready for a big presentation, an event or even just to get ready for work. With our Express Blowouts, which take just 15 minutes starting on dry hair and our Signature Blowouts, which is a traditional wash-and-blow in 30 minutes or less for most hair types,
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
While there’s certainly a time and a place for a glass of champagne and reading a magazine while you wait at a salon, our efficiency-driven model has already helped us capture market share and helped us double the size of our business to 14 locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, DC last year. Our model pushes the salon industry forward by focusing on quality and efficiency and pushes the hospitality industry forward by offering a great service for guests.
Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?
- Express services: Whether traveling for business or leisure, most people don’t want to spend a ton of time to look their best while they’re away from home. Whether it’s rushing to a party or presenting at a conference, travelers want to look their best — quickly.
- Niche offerings: Hotels aren’t just competing with each other anymore, they’re now contending with home shares like Airbnb. Hotels can stand out by offering more specialized and interesting amenities and services to entice travelers.
- Marrying quality and efficiency: “efficient” and “high quality” don’t need to be mutually exclusive — in fact, they coexist really successfully! Instead of marking up prices and only offering quality as a luxury commodity, figure out how to achieve efficiency and quality at an approachable price to reach more customers.
- In-room amenities: These days, people really want convenience. In addition to offering unique and accessible services, make them available right in their rooms so there’s zero extra time or effort needed. This is why we offer in room services at all our hotel partner properties.
- More accessible pricing: Onsite price gouging has to go — the idea of “the hotel surcharge” for highly inflated prices doesn’t work anymore. With apps like Seamless that can replace room service, or “find dry cleaners near me” on Google, travelers have more access than ever to get what they want at a better price, so hotels have to become more competitive.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
I travel so much for work, so often times I’m in beautiful hotels and locations but don’t get to totally unwind. A perfect vacation for me is a beach, a glass of wine and my dog Harry without any interruptions!
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We’ve always leveraged our position at Glam+Go for good. Every year, we partner with local charities to serve food to the homeless at the holidays. We also try to open our doors to and show support for disenfranchised groups whenever we can. I personally have my own missions, but as a female started and owned company we employ over 95% women at Glam+Go. One of the things we take very seriously is our team’s enrichment and access to opportunities.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My “pet project” (no pun intended) is a non-profit called Harry’s House. As a dog owner/animal lover, it’s really upsetting to know that being an animal owner/lover keeps those in need out of shelters, shared housing, low income housing, soup kitchens and career fairs. In more extreme cases, especially for women who experience domestic abuse, because there are few places to turn with an animal in tow, so they end up staying in abusive situations because they fear for the life of their cat or dog. In many states in the US, bringing an animal to a kennel is immediate abandonment (some have a 30 day grace period). But I’d like to create a safe space for animal owners who are seeking help and or rehabilitation. A place to watch an animal for up to 30 days if someone received a job opportunity, or needed temporary public housing where they didn’t want to choose between a roof and abandoning their animal. In addition to a “day care” and basic vet facility, we would offer a small amount of temporary housing for victims of abuse that cannot be separated from their pet just yet while offering career placement workshops, mentorship and help with resume building/form filling out (I don’t know if you’ve ever applied for anything with the government but the forms are brutal and confusing). We’re still in very early stages, but I’m really excited to bring this concept to life.
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