Dealing with the Difficult Spa Guest
By Casey Olsen Owner, Spa Sources | June 15, 2010
The health spa philosophy began a few thousand of years ago by the Egyptian, Roman and Grecian societies. As the years have passed we find ourselves still believing in the value derived from water and treatment therapies. The American spas have taken these ancient modalities and fine tuned them to relate to our modern lives. Today's guest arrives to a spa facility anticipating relaxation, pampering and a respite from our over stressed lives. That being said, there are those few guests that arrive at your spa doorstep with possibly alternative motives to relaxation in mind.
We have all encountered that difficult to please guest. They arrive complaining even as they check in to the hotel, and they forge on through all the areas of the property, feeling put upon and dissatisfied. Having begun my spa career in the days that the majority of the people enjoying the spa experience were the very wealthy old moneyed rich, the majority of our guests were considered difficult to please. No matter what we did, they were unhappy.
In the years that I was the Spa Director, there was only one time that I had to ask a guest to leave the spa facility due to attitude, and I must add here, that this one had a major attitude. She hailed from the North East and arrived at our Reception Desk announcing that she expected to be catered to every minute that she was in our spa. My staff had been called from the hotel's front desk staff and given a "head's up" regarding her temperament, so we thought we were prepared to handle this unhappy lady.
Not even close! She entered the spa in a rage demanding immediate attention in our extremely busy locker room. We had staff working in our locker area attending to guests, which is only one of the service procedures that set us apart from all other spas. Yes, the staffing of this area cost us a bit more, but with a 47% net profit coming from the spa, we felt that the gain we enjoyed from guest service far out weighted the nominal payroll addition.
When this guest arrived at the spa, I was in a meeting but when I returned I was surrounded by staff expounding about this lady and her complaining. I heard about how she snapped her fingers at the staff and spoke rudely to them. It was my philosophy that my staff is there to be sweet and attentive to our guests, but should never endure rude or condescending behavior. That was my job. So I set off to locate this disgruntled guest.
This particular spa was over 65,000 square feet and we were always extremely busy. It was the norm to have over 300 guests pass thru the spa facility in just one day and our attrition rate was off the charts. The staff was used to all sorts of behavior, but this lady seemed to surpass all the rest. When I located the guest in question, she was in a treatment room having a service, so I returned to my office noting what time her treatment would be finished. I located the therapist and asked her how the lady acted during the treatment and the therapist said that the guest gave her curt instructions throughout the entire 50 minute treatment. The therapist said "This one's a doosey!" Finally, I located our lady in question, nicely introduced myself as the Spa Director and asked her to accompany me to my office.