Why Every High-End Hotel Needs a Spa Butler

By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | February 18, 2009

The spa industry is the fourth largest leisure industry in the United States, generating $11.2 billion in annual revenues through 136 million visits at over 12,000 locations. Massage comprises 84% of all services delivered. Day spas earned the most business, being responsible for more customer visits than resort/hotel spas. Why is this?

Is it because day spas are more sumptuous or the treatments are better? The answer seems to be, "No." The difference between day spas and hotel spas lies in the service. Generally, guests tend to feel more comfortable in smaller venues where they consider they are receiving personalized service. They want to feel known and have their needs understood. They return to the favorite therapists who know their likes and dislikes. As spas become an increasing part of a hotel's revenue base, service needs to match expectations; and that improvement comes from both within the spa as well as the hotel side.

Currently, this kind of personalized service is less common in larger hotels where patrons tend to feel like one of many. The Spa Butler can help bridge this gap.

The services of the Spa Butler are not for all guests. The Spa Butler is reserved for the most discerning guests, those staying in the most expensive suites and villas. These discerning guests often return to the hotel repeatedly and expect customized and personalized service. The addition of the Spa Butler to the hotel staff can be a cogent selling point for high-end clients as the Spa Butler not only provides personalized service but can also add a level of privacy that is often sought by celebrities and other high-profile guests. The Spa Butler is trained to recognize different guests that emerge across the luxury consumer category.

In fact, Prince and Associates, a leading consulting firm to the highest end of clientele, revealed in Elite Traveler that these wealthy clients spend an average of $107,000 each on spas and spa treatments in 2005. They paid an average of $224,000 each for functions held at a hotel, resort or spa. Property "takeovers" for a day or more have become increasingly popular among these people.

Additionally, hotel guests leave feedback surveys behind them that the Spa Butler can use to connect the hotel's services with those of the spa. This is currently not happening in most high-end hotels where spa and hotel services remain separate and isolated entities: the bigger the hotel and spa, the less connection and interaction there tends to be between them. Connecting the two can provide substantial increased income for the hotels and spas. At the same time, the Spa Butler, by connecting the hotel with the spa in a personalized manner, can provide service that surpasses those offered in competing and currently more financially successful day spas.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.