Does your Hotel GM Support Your Spa?"
By Casey Olsen Owner, Spa Sources | June 15, 2010
Regardless of the scope of your spa services, there are still those few General Managers "out there" that look at spas as something that only women indulge in and that they themselves would never be caught dead having a massage or facial and definitely not allow someone to scrub the dry skin from their bodies. So they keep a wide berth from the spa and what goes on behind those closed doors will forever remain a mystery.
Some GM's might have read your spa menu of services, but have absolutely no idea what it all means. "What in the world is a hydroculator?" or "What happens when one of their hotel guests receives an oxygenating facial?" These exotic and mystifying treatments are way too much for them to comprehend and they have no desire investigating them any further.
The problems that are derived from this view point are numerous. For one, if they have a guest that is speaking to them about their experience in the spa, be it either positive or negative, they will have little or no idea what they are referring to. And those of us in this industry understand that it is vital that all managers in every department should be more knowledgeable about their property and it's offerings than their own guests.
What also makes this a bit of a tragedy is that what really does go on behind those private doors in the spa may very well be the primary reason why the hotel has the occupancy rates that it does, or at the very least, contributes greatly to them. The group, vacation or transient guest today pretty much gear their choice of hotel from it's depth of amenities and location. So, if you have a "boss" that doesn't appreciate the value the spa has to the property, there is a great disconnect with his or her own daily effectiveness to manage.
Drawing from my own personal experiences in the days that I ran one of the top spas in the world, I witnessed numerous GM's come and go. One especially stands out in my mind as being the dream general manager. He was a spa supporter from day one. The man not only understood the value the spa had to the property, but was himself a spa partaker. He would walk the spa every early morning with me before the staff arrived and we would review improvements or maintenance that was needed. At the end of his work day, he would return to the spa for a steam and shower before heading home. The benefits my department received from his involvement were invaluable. He knew the names of all of my staff, and by the way, there were over 140! He supported all of my efforts to create unique and special therapies to offer to our guests. He would talk about the spa to guests that he would invite to dinner or meet during the day, which of course, was beneficial to the spas' occupancy. And when he had a disgruntled spa guest in his office, he could tell if this was someone that was merely attempting to get a credit for a service that they, in truth, had truly enjoyed, or, had a legitimate complaint.
This kind of support and understanding was crucial. But then the day came when he moved to another property and my nightmare began. Here arrived, well we'll call him John. John had little or no interest in the spa because he was strictly a food and beverage guy, he would say. Within his first week on the job, I invited him to tour the spa with me to familiarize him with the operation and the facility. He would have nothing to do with it. And thus, the problems began. In our weekly meetings when we reviewed our operation and guest activities, he would make light of the spa by making comments like "people that do that stuff are wimps!" WHAT? Oh well, I won't dwell on this experience but I think you understand my drift. What was sad is that the spa was the largest revenue producing department on the whole property with a 50% net profit. In real numbers, the spa generated $4 million plus annually and we netted $2 million. No other department came close to my numbers, yet John's interest was still minimal.