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Dec 18

5 Things A Hot Tub Mobile App Should Do…

Got a New Hot Tub? There’s an App For That

Balboa Wifi Enabled Spa controls

Yes you read that correctly an app for your hot tub, this is indeed the world we live in. When you really think about it though if you spend $6,000-$12,000 on a new spa you should be able to control it with your phone right!?

The real question is, what should a spa mobile app do exactly?

Well first things first, it should obviously be able to send me back in time to the 80’s so I can rock to Journey in their prime! (see: Hot Tub Time Machine if that joke was lost on you 😉 )

Back to reality….

Whether a spa is built using Balboa controls or Gecko, the two main companies supplying the top spa manufacturers, you should have access to a mobile app by 2013-2014 for new hot tub purchases. In the article below I want to outline 5 things that this app MUST do to be worth the cost of the upgrade and add value to you the spa buyer.

1. Control The Spa

So lets get the expected out of the way here, like apps that are already available you should be able to use your phone as a remote for your spa. Turn the jets on and off, lights, a stereo even. this pretty much the baseline of any hot tub mobile app.

I am not sure where the value is in an app that only controls the spas main functions, as when you are using the spa its controls are right there. Maybe if you are on the the opposite side of the spa and don’t feel like moving from your seat to turn the jets on/off, but then most high end spas have auxiliary controls at distant seats and loungers anyway, so it still doesn’t really make sense to me.

[message type=”warning”]SpaTechTip: If you do use your iphone in a hot tub…get a waterproof case of some kind, as accidents happen and touch screens DO NOT like water![/message]

2. Spa Programming

In addition to basic ‘at the spa’ controls programming your new tub’s filter cycles and modes should be easy in the app. If your spa is getting a lot of use sometimes we want to adjust the amount of filter cycles, or the duration of the cycles. Maybe you don’t want the spa turning on in the middle of the night so you program the timing of the cycles. Whatever it is this should be intuitively designed into the app environment.

To be honest this functionality would probably be easier for a customer to use than the built in methods on the top side control, as sometimes navigating those small screens and 3 letter codes can be a bit confusing.

3. Important Push Notifications

Marquis Spa App screen shot

If you don’t know what a push notification is in the mobile universe it is best explained by email notifications on your phone. If you have a gmail app on your smartphone and you receive a notification when you get a new email….that my friends is using push technology.

How do we use push notifications with a hot tub? …..Well, where do we start?!

GFCI TRIP ALERTS…Anyone!?

We sell hot tubs in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, it gets cold , things freeze and every once in awhile the power goes out. Over the last 12 years I have heard plenty of horror stories from spa owners on vacation who came back to a frozen hot tub after the power went out.

If the app was able to notify the customer of a loss of power to the tub they could immediately have someone check on the spa, whether that be their kids, spouse, neighbors, or their local spa dealer or service company.

A spa that trips the GFCI breaker does not need to be caused by a power outage either, most of the time there is an issue with the spa and it needs a service call, another reason why this notification would be good.

What other notifications could be programed into a spa app?

  • Clean filters notification
  • Error codes
  • Spa in use –(great if you are away and don’t want your kids in the spa)
  • Drain and Refill Reminders
  • Add shock/chlorine/bromine water treatment reminders
  • Messages from the manufacturer
  • Messages from local dealer (sales, events, services available, ect.)

There are probably a dozen more things we could add to that list, push notifications are what really make apps great because they give the user passive functionality, which means the app is working for you without you having to actually ‘work the app’’ ….this adds tons of value to the spa.

4. Local Dealer/Service Company Contact

I hate looking up numbers when I need them, don’t you? So why don’t we program a screen on the app that has all of your local spa dealers info. Phone, address, email/contact form, website, hours of operation all the important stuff. This screen could be shown with an error code of GFCI trip notification and feature a tap to call button so the the spa owner can quickly get in touch with someone to service their hot tub.

This page could also be dynamic, in that the dealer can update it with current hours, specials on chemicals and services, store events, and more important information.

5. Water Test Assistant

This would be huge, and the software already exists!

Note to Balboa and Gecko – get in touch with Aquacheck and Instatest and use their test strip scanning software right in your app. You’ll probably have to pay a license fee but this would help the customer immensely!

Here is how this works for the customer:

Your smartphone camera will be able to scan the test strip and tell you exactly what the chemical readings are in your spa, so you don’t have to try and match the colors up – because this is hard!

What the app then does is imports the information about your particular spa, gallons, current temperature, and tells you exactly what chemicals and how much of those chemicals to add, so you don’t mess it up!

It could also give you a shopping list of what chemicals you need, so you can bring it to your local dealer and get exactly the right products. How’s that for easy?!

From SmartPhone to SmartSpa

Every appliance and device in our home is becoming smarter, and hot tubs are now starting to take that leap. I see manufactures like Marquis Spas, ( the hot tubs we sell ) starting to build the foundation for a SmartSpa. There’s a lot that goes into pool and spa ownership and sometimes that is a barrier for some homeowners to cross. My job everyday is to make pool and hot tub ownership easy for my customers, so if we can make the products themselves smarter that’s where a huge leap in progress for everyone involved.

And in a note to Gekko and Balboa : Where is the Android love?! The Galaxy S III is outselling the Iphone5, better get those developers to work and open up the market to everyone, not just Apple devices.

Current Spa Control Apps:

Gecko in.touch
Balboa Water Group

Have a good idea for a spa app function? Let me know in the comments below what you would want your hot tub app to do.

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