Computer Chic

Before Jean Claude Simille installed Wi-Fi Internet service at his Jean Paul Salon & Spa in Albany, NY, he noticed something distressing: fidgety clients.

Seventeen Studio.Spa.Salon features an Internet bar called Studio Pix, which is a hit with the salon's teenage clients.
Seventeen Studio.Spa.Salon features an Internet bar called Studio Pix, which is a hit with the salon's teenage clients.

"Customers I knew well kept asking to use my computer to check e-mail," Simille says. "After awhile, I thought, How great would it be for clients to be able to get their office work done while they're here?"

Now laptops and PDAs are a common sight at Simille's bustling 3,500-square-foot salon, and the resulting buzz has given him all the publicity he could ask for—at minimal cost (a couple thousand dollars) and a mere half-hour setup time. (The Jean Paul Salon was "prewired" for wireless, since it was equipped with high-speed Internet. For non-Internet-ready salons, an Internet service provider will find the best way to connect you to their wireless network.)

Jeffrey Dauksevich, owner of the ultra-hip Umi Salon in Boston, says going wireless more than a year ago was a natural progression for his trendsetting hair quarters, a 2,000-square-foot loft in a historic townhouse. Now he views the service more as a necessity than a perk for his clientele of busy professionals.

"I have a lot of clients who are always on the go, and I realized that it was unfair for them to sacrifice an hour or two away from their work during their appointments here," Dauksevich says. "Now they can log on while they're getting their hair done. Clients just understand it as part of our environment, which is very modern and forward-thinking."

When it comes to forward-thinking, teens rank high. To satisfy their online cravings and introduce marketing hooks, the Seventeen Studio.Spa.Salon in Plano, TX, features a PC-equipped Internet bar called Studio Pix. Here, young clients can send e-postcards to friends, surf teen-friendly sites, seek beauty advice and sign up for salon promotions. Plus, through partnerships with companies like Universal Studios, Disney and Pepsi, teens can preview upcoming movies, CDs and music videos.

"The Internet bar was part of the design from the beginning. It's what [teens] are plugged into," says owner Susan Tierney. And while it is somewhat distinct from Seventeen's salon and retail store, Studio Pix's modern dE9cor is consistent with the rest of the 8,700-square-foot space. Flat monitors are mounted against a backdrop that follows a bowed silver counter.

And with the e-postcards and cyber promotions driving clients to the salon's Web site, and to the salon itself, "More eyeballs are connecting with us than ever," she says.