The New Renascence Spa of Spa Butlers & Butler Spas

By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | March 06, 2010

This is good news for those hotels and resorts with spas that have invested in the latest industry concept of spa butlers, introduced a few months ago to the spa and hospitality industries in Hotelexecutive.com and the latest issues of Spa Business and Spa Management magazines. For spa guests, the total immersion experience made possible by the fusion of these two service pinnacles creates a lasting impression. Why? Because the model handles the key drawback with every spa experience, which invariably ends abruptly as a guest leaves the spa to return to his or her suite. For hotel/resort/spa management, the Renascence Spa model represents the next generation of hospitality experience and somewhere to go when you have already traveled as far as the road leads in pampering guests.

This symbiotic liaison between spa and butler programs makes the butler service an extension of the spa experience, wherein butlers providing their usual high-end service on the hotel side are then trained further in the methodologies in play at their spa, with the goal of continuing the spa environment in the guest's own suite.

From the guest's perspective, she (or he) occupies a serene/mellow/invigorated world after being pampered, prodded, plucked, sweated and doused in the spa. It's a destination and transformation she seeks when she thinks about and ultimately walks into a spa-and more often than not reaches. Yet the world that greets her as the spa doors swing shut behind her runs on different agreements: people rush around, lost in thought, stressed. When she reaches her suite, it seems lifeless, out of synch and unsympathetic to her new state. If she is experiencing a catharsis, detoxification, or crisis, or if she just wants to have a sounding board or a ready ear, she is on her own.

Now imagine a butler who knows how guests can react to their spa experience and how to assist them with understanding and empathy. Knowing a guest's spa program, he can converse about the guest's experiences with good reality, should the guest so desire, and can also take actions to enhance that program, be they therapeutic baths, showers, or simply a much needed glass of pure water to preempt dehydration.

The spa butler acts as the main point of contact before, during and after the guest's stay. Translated into the real world, this program means the butler asks and cares about the guest's goal in coming to the spa, giving accurate and convincing explanations of treatments to the guest (and for that important bottom line, upselling). He ensures the guest's room reflects the guest's needs and wants, such as providing Pilates mats, preempting allergic responses, and smudging or applying aroma mists (Smudging is the Native American practice of burning sage and/or cedar to eliminate odors and so purify a space. In this case, the idea is not just to eliminate unpleasant smells, but also synthetically derived fragrances that are sometimes employed inside guest suites).

The spa butler supports the guest by being a sounding board and conversing with understanding and empathy. He introduces the guest to the people, places and services she will be experiencing at the spa. He smoothes the preparations for each spa experience and helps her through the ramifications of each spa treatment with follow-on services that help her land gracefully from her spa experience.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.