Jean-Guy de Gabriac, founder of spa training and consultancy Tip Touch International and coordinator of the Professional Spa & Wellness Convention in London and Dubai, outlines how to care for and motivate your staff – to the benefit of your team and your business
As a new year begins, many spa managers and directors will be thinking of what novelties to roll out in their 2015 spa menus to attract more clients.
Granted, re-evaluating your menu once a year, to keep the offer fresh, attractive and profitable is crucial. However, the true question is, what are clients really getting out of their time at the spa?
According to a satisfaction study, carried out in the UK by Anna Bjurstam, owner of spa consultancy Raison d’Etre and vice president of spa and wellness at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, 58% of spa guests do not come back because they don’t feel their experience offered them value for money.
When conducting mystery visits to spas, I often hear clients comment that treatments are “just pampering fluff,” stating that the effects wear off in a few hours, or that the appointment was a waste of time and money.
Remember that no matter how much money has been poured into the design and architecture of the spa, what the guest experience really boils down to is the quality of the interaction with the team and, of course, the time spent on the treatment table.
What makes a dramatic difference is the amount of time and money spent on recruiting spa professionals with the right attitude and personality, and on keeping them engaged once they’ve been hired. A better strategy than hiring the first available person when facing an urgent need is to meet with talented therapists year-round, looking for the right personalities to complement your team.
“How much wellness are you really integrating into your spa treatments? Not just when it comes to your clients, but also your staff”
Above: Ensure you motivate your staff, so they don't end up clock-watching
Everyone agrees that wellness is the big trend at the moment, but how much wellness are you really integrating into your spa treatments? This applies not just to your clients, but also to your staff. For example, are therapists considered just as providing a service, and paid about the same rate as factory workers, or are they given the time and tools to blossom into the holistic caregivers that spa brochures promise and clients expect?
Interestingly, while Reiki was considered a new-age treatment a decade ago, it is now an elective course given in many spas to help therapists boost their energy levels and connect with guests. Enabling things to flow during any service the therapists’ provide, not just during Reiki treatments.
Some spa managers are also developing their team’s conversational skills, to allow them to better educate their clients and help them understand physiology and what they can do to take good care of themselves.
Reflect and act
Looking at the following points can help you boost staff morale, improve clients’ perception of your spa and increase the frequency of visits and the number of referrals you get:
- Treatment protocols: Do your treatment protocols really deliver a positive physiological impact – triggering a relaxation response in the central nervous system and giving guests that wow moment that occurs when endorphins are released?
- Knowledge: Are you sure that all members of staff, from therapists to receptionists, are comfortable when it comes to explaining, in layman’s terms, the physiological benefits of treatments to guests? For hotel spas, this point also includes staff in other departments, so that they can confidently refer clients to the spa.
- Time: Do your therapists have five-to-eight minutes at the beginning of the treatment, to sit down and really connect with guests – in order to assess their lifestyle and what they want to get out of the session? In other words, do they have enough time to personalise the session?
- And time again: Do your therapists also have five-to-eight minutes at the end of the session, to debrief their guests and share wellness tips? Or do they barely have time to walk the client to the relaxation area, before having to rush back to the treatment room to clean up and usher in the next client?
The industrial age died last century and today, experience is key. Why then are some spas still running their operations like a factory, breaking up the client’s journey as if it was an assembly line, underpaying staff and changing them whenever repetitive strain injuries or stress-related burnout kicks in?
I strongly encourage you to join the Professional Spa & Wellness Convention in London on February 21-23, to learn from seasoned spa and hospitality executives about how they invest in their team members. Find out how they train their staff and allow them to blossom, and they ways in which they foster a culture of excellence in their spas.
“What the guest experience really boils down to is the quality of the interaction with the team and the time spent on the treatment table”
People need to be led, and inspired. Theologian, physician and philosopher Dr Albert Schweitzer said: “There are times when our inner light goes out. This flame is usually rekindled by other human beings who deserve our deepest gratitude.”
Now, in my opinion, THIS is the spirit in which we should approach 2015, as far as vision, mission and operations go.
Jean-Guy de Gabriac is co-ordinator of the 2015 Professional Spa & Wellness Convention, held at the ExCeL London exhibition centre on February 21-23, and the Professional Spa & Wellness Convention GCC, taking place in Dubai on January 25-26
For more on the London convention, click HERE and for details about the Dubai event, click HERE