Confessions of an awards judge

World Spa & Wellness Awards judge Mellissa Rancourt on what makes the judging process so interesting, and why you should put your spa up for an award

I must admit I enjoy the look I receive when I tell someone what I’ve been up to these past few weeks. I’m an awards judge for luxury spas and hotels, I tell them.

Eyes widen, eyebrows rise and a dreamy, faraway look settles on their face – as if they’ve been transported to an imaginary setting where they are lying on a lounger with cucumber slices on their eyes while someone feeds them grapes, Cleopatra-style, and someone else is doing their nails.

For more than 10 years, I’ve had the chance to visit and assess companies around the world, but I never had this response when I told people I was an awards judge for other industries. However, when I speak of being able to experience luxury service as a World Spa & Wellness Awards judge, the “interestometer” rises.

Of course, I can understand this, pampering and luxurious surroundings is something almost everyone can appreciate, creating curiosity as to how the best wellness companies provide their service.   

"Regardless of the results, the awards process will remind your team of how great they are and can inspire them to want to be even better. It gives them a chance to talk about their job and to be proud of where they work"

However, this isn’t what I enjoy the most, or even why I volunteer my time as an awards judge. I do this for other reasons, one of which is that I enjoy sharing people’s pride in their company and passion for their job. One of my favourite moments is meeting someone whose pride in their work is so apparent that I can immediately see how lucky they feel to be a part of that company. 

When their passion for their jobs shines through and they relish the opportunity to tell me about what they do. When I see this, I know that their love for their job is passed on to deliver the care that the customer needs. In the past few weeks, I’ve experienced these moments at spas I’ve visited, and I’ve been inspired by the people I’ve met. 

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Apply and shine

Are you trying to figure out if you should put your spa up for an award? If you are proud of your spa and of your team, then share this with others: share your story and give your team the opportunity to shine.

The award process alone, regardless of the results, will remind your team of how great they are and can inspire them to want to be even better. It gives them a chance to talk about their job and to be proud of where they work. 

"The awards process is an opportunity to recognise your achievements up to this moment. It helps you see your results so far - where you are and where you wish to be"

And, if you are looking to learn about your own way of doing business and get ideas from others, entering an award is one of the best, and fastest, ways of doing that. Truly great organisations, and the people who work for them, know that the ultimate reason for applying for any recognition is that it gives them an opportunity to make their spa even better.  

Just completing the application process can start this learning curve. You will be asked to share information about your spa and how you deliver your services and this can help you put yourself in the customer’s place, assessing what you see. Reminding you of what you need to work on in order to improve the experience for your customers. 

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Lessons learned 

If you become a finalist, there is even more to learn from. Being visited by an official awards’ judge, as all World Spa & Wellness Awards finalists are, gives you the opportunity to exchange information with that judge. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had some amazing moments with spa managers and teams, as we have together come up with fun and creative ideas for how to help their business thrive. 

Later, you will receive detailed feedback about the judge’s experience and suggestions for improvement, not just as part of this particular awards process, but also as part of many others. Use the experiences of and ideas from the awards judge – they see how many spas conduct their business so they know the challenges that spas face and they see what works well.

"If you are proud of your spa and of your team, then share this with others: share your story and give your team the opportunity to shine"

Entering an award gives you and your team the chance to celebrate where you are. It’s not only the award itself, if you were to win it, which merits recognition, the awards process is an opportunity to recognise your achievements up to this moment. It helps you see your results so far - where you are and where you wish to be. 

What I enjoy most about the awards process is the whole package. Connecting with people, sharing ideas to help make the business better, encouraging a team to celebrate its accomplishments and meeting companies and individuals who want others to know more about what they do and how they do it. Truly great organisations are ones that wish to excel and if you haven’t yet reached the level you want to be at, you can use awards and the recognition they give you to get there.

Melissa Rancourt is an engineer and entrepreneur, who advocates putting wellbeing into your professional and personal life. When she is not visiting applicants for the World Spa & Wellness Awards, you can find her at one of her businesses, Serendip Spa in Brussels 

The winners of the 2015 World Spa & Wellness Awards will be unveiled at an awards ceremony at The Brewery in London on Sunday February 22