Is Your Hotel Spa Ready for Spa Science?

By Leslie Wolski President, Wolski Spa Consulting | July 09, 2017

Wellness is what we provide, but now the science behind it is what people want. Welcome to the second phase of the Wellness Movement: Science. Science is a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject. So, what does this mean to the hotel spa? It means we better know what we are talking about. No longer can a spa front desk concierge get away with only describing the Wellness Massage as “relaxing” and “therapeutic”. This information does close to nothing in terms of educating and enlightening our guests.

There are no details. There is no science. The good news is there are a number of ways hotel spas can get ready to embrace the science behind the services we provide, truly comprehending the why and discovering the how. Why is a massage “relaxing” and “therapeutic” and how are those results achieved? There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Simply seek to fully understand and communicate what it is you already do. Hotel spas need to integrate the science of spa into their operations and ultimately a culture of knowledge will prevail.

This goal can be reached by asking yourself three questions and then acting accordingly. First, have you cultivated and mined your key vendor partnerships to get the most out of the extensive education your vendors have at hand and can provide? Spas must bring in the experts for support when making decisions regarding products and services. Second, are the staff training programs specific and deliberate? Do you set high expectations and standards for education and continuous learning? Lastly, revisit the marketing plan and confirm that education is a top priority. Are you educating guests at every turn, while at the same time dictating what they want to learn and when and where they are exposed to the information? When these three questions are asked and then steps are taken to answer in the affirmative the science of wellness will be sustainable for your spa.

Our product vendors can be our most valuable assets when trying to professionally and comprehensively answer the complex questions that will arise regarding the services we offer. No one knows the products we use or the services we provide better than the people who are developing and selling them. So many spas neglect to tap into the fountain of knowledge our vendors bring to the table. And if the companies serving you are unable to answer your most pressing questions regarding their products and protocols you may want to rethink who you do business with. Vendors should be providing you with more information than you will ever need. There should be treatment protocols, product descriptions, scientific studies, MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and marketing materials. Company representatives will most likely know what sort of questions your guests will ask because their products are developed based on the results the public is requesting.

In response to the demand for products most companies have an extensive list of skus, but it is the spa director’s job to only bring on what your staff and operation can handle. Existing spas should revisit current product lines and ask if staff can become experts on the science behind 50 products or if perhaps 25 is more reasonable. The decision is an important one as it is the foundation of the team’s educational journey. Ensure that all the educational materials are available for every single product you choose. Confirm that this information is organized and easily accessible. Follow the same procedure with your treatment protocols. Again, products and protocols are the start of building a successful internal and external educational campaign. It is advisable to format your protocols so they have enough information to answer the following questions:

  • Who is this treatment good for?
    (Pregnant women, athletes, travelers)

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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.