Spa market challenges and opportunities uncovered at first PB spa directors panel
Staff recruitment and promoting spa as an enticing career choice are the biggest issues facing the industry right now, according to Professional Beauty’s first discussion panel of high-level spa directors.
PB hosted its first spa directors focus group and networking event on June 26, with 12 business owners at Bluebird in Chelsea, to discuss the key challenges facing the market as well as the most promising trends to tap into.
Leading spa operators including Lesley Bacon of Handpicked Hotels; Louise Moore of Hilton Group; Darren Dixon of Pennyhill Park and many more joined the discussion.
All agreed that the pool of good therapists was getting smaller, and many spas are struggling to find the expertise they need to match client demand. Delegates agreed this challenge is borne out of two issues – 1. that spa is not being endorsed by the UK Government like other industries, and 2. that spa education is not matching employer needs.
This is leading to fewer people choosing to train in beauty and spa, fewer courses being offered and more students dropping out without completing qualifications.
How do we make the spa industry more attractive?
Discussion took place about what can be done to demonstrate that a job in spa is an attractive career option, with many stating that an industry campaign should be launched to target teenagers in schools as well as existing beauty students.
It was also suggested that young therapists should be micro-influencers in the industry – people who already have a substantial but organic following on Instagram and Facebook, making them great ambassadors.
Another suggestion was that this campaign should bust the myth surrounding spa as a low-paying industry, with many of the directors saying that salaries have grown, but this is not widely recognised.
The goal is that this industry campaign would not only help spas recruit talent and retain them, but could also be shown to the Government to put the pressure on them to take spa more seriously, especially when beauty and hair contributes £6.6bn to the UK economy.
Key spa trends
Some of the top trends shaping the industry were also identified. Many flagged the impact of artificial intelligence and virtual reality as a key trend to watch, citing examples such as the popularity of on-demand fitness classes and considering how this will migrate further into spa.
Conversely, the growing demand for services that allow clients to reconnect with nature was highlighted, with outdoor thermal areas and forest bathing among the most popular.
Other key trends discussed included the growing importance of sustainability, mental wellbeing, CBD treatments and an increase in men in spas.
Who came to the event?
The event attendees included Dave Courteen, managing director of Mosaic Spa & Health Clubs; Melissa Evans, national spa and fitness manager at Spa Experience; Emma Jane-North, spa director of The Waterfront Hotel, Spa & Golf; Diane Nettleton, director of Gaia Spa; Lesley Bacon, group health and spa manger Handpicked Hotels; and Louise Moore, director of spa development and operations – Europe, Hilton.
Plus, Phil Murphy, director of leisure and spa at Hoar Cross Hall; Matthew Mackaness, spa director at Rudding Park; Robin Mauras-Cartier, spa director at The Set Hotels/Hotel Café Royal; and Darren Dixon, spa director at Pennyhill Park.
Professional Beauty plans to host these networking events for spa directors at least twice a year.
What do you make of the topics and solutions discussed? Leave your comment below.