Supporting Guest Service Position Employees Through Sexual Misconduct

By Magnolia Polley Partner, The Green Team Project | October 17, 2010

Sexual misconduct happens across the board, in every profession, in every industry, at one time or another. Within corporate hotel entities, ethics and sexual harassment trainings are a mandatory part of yearly training schedules, especially for management. Most of the time, sexual misconduct refers to behavior that goes between co-workers or peers. Those who work in spas, quickly learn that they are a part of a therapeutic industry that is often confused with the “sex industry”, on some level. Licensed Massage Practitioners are trained medically opposed to sexually, but because there is stigma that links the practice of massage to tantric massage, sexual release, or prostitution, a spa professional must be aware that someone may come to them with the intention of receiving something more than a general massage. Despite the “laws” that stand behind an employee that may experience misconduct, a strong presence of loyalty and integrity must be present and enforced from the top all the way down the proverbial ladder. It is the responsibility of the hotel and spa management to ensure that their practitioners know what to do and how to act under such circumstances.

When a facility brings on a wellness center or spa facility, they generally do so as an amenity or draw for their establishment. The target is relaxation, well-being, and general pleasure for the guests. The facility itself looks for expansion, more to offer, and revenue. Generally, these goals do not conflict with providing guests with an ultimate luxury hotel or resort experience. The training, encouragement, and permission to take personal initiative are paramount points when placing and educating the key employees that can help ward off sexual misconduct. In the spa environment these key employees are those who book appointments and make the initial contact with guests or clients.

The following information covers points for spa reception with the intention of these employees acting as the first line of defense in keeping an intentionally serene environment for their guests, their peers, and the establishment they work for:

  • Be aware of clients who ask questions about their therapist’s personal features, ei. hair color, weight, eye color, age, ethnicity, etc.
  • If someone requests anything that sounds like “sex work”, do not try to talk them into a massage. Let them know that there are places and people who do that work, but it is absolutely not available at this facility.
  • Have a list of establishments or web-sites available as reference if necessary for those mistakenly contacting your establishment for services outside of the “spa” bounds.
  • If a guest acts peculiar while checking in, let the therapist and at least one other co-worker know about your concern.
  • Know who to call on property when an incident occurs, ei. general manager, property security, or other trained and aware individuals, so if a therapist needs immediate assistance, there is always someone who is trained and capable of talking to the guest and potentially escorting them off the grounds, or who can talk with police in the case it takes more than one person to gracefully work through the situation.

Beyond prevention of sexual misconduct from within, it important that the spa lead, manager, or director is available to perform some immediate counsel for the therapist who has had the encounter. Although most people are aware and agree that sexual misconduct happens, prostitution happens, and indeed sexual therapies are relevant, it does not mean that the practitioners do not feel violated when put in these situations. It is no one’s job to tolerate abuse or to be subject to the actions of someone misinformed or displaying predatory behavior.

alt textGonzalo Figueroa Landeros is an instructor at the National Holistic Institute, where he received his certificate as a Massage Therapist and Health Educator in 2003. He has worked at a resort spa in the Napa Valley and at a day spa in San Francisco's Union Square. He currently works and lives in San Francisco.

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Paul van Meerendonk
John Ely
James Gieselman
Connie Rheams
Benjamin  Ebbink
Mia A. Mackman
Gini Dietrich
Jerry Tarasofsky
Clifford Ferrara
David Lund
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.