Hotel Spas as the Next Wave of Marketing

By Melinda Minton Executive Director, SPAA | October 28, 2008

Theme

More than ever the theme standing behind your spa is important. Particularly for a destination or hotel spa much of the draw of interest among consumers seeking a property is the spa. Moreover, with spas becoming such a part of American culture consumers are growing tired of the average facial and massage. More than ever consumers want exotic, international, ritual-based, interesting services, products and accessories. When deciding on your theme become creative but understand the requirements of the type of theme you will invest in. For instance, if you would like to create a Turkish hammam your facility will need an authentic build out with a great deal of water therapies, appropriate products and sundries that accommodate the treatments offered. More importantly the services offered will need to be given to guests in a way that is authentic and appropriate. The degree of difficulty in training staff to perform these services thoughtfully and consistently with attention to detail could be all consuming. So while a strong brand and unique theme is crucial to the success of the spa a cost analysis is necessary to determine if the concept is possible and profitable.

Treatment Packages

Treatments are best offered at destination spas in "complete thoughts." In other words studying the needs of the guests and then translating that into pre-made packages makes for an easier up-sell. According to The Spa Association (SPAA) based in Fort Collins, Colorado female business travelers who opt for room service for evening meals would much rather have a more social and pampering experience at the spa. What an opportunity! Offering a package for the weary executive with a healthful meal would be an easy sale and an instant hit. Likewise, creating a mini vacation for those travelers who require a one or two day spa experience along with site seeing and recreational activities is a natural fit where packages are concerned. So an experiential package could be a trip around the world while at the spa like a Swedish dry brushing and sauna, a Russian body wrap, a Tuscan facial and a Thai massage. Results oriented packages are also a good idea such as a slimming weekend or a detox day. Creating opportunities for personal development at your property is yet another option. Why not offer a personal power seminar along with a detox day or a new you new year or a goddess renewal weekend? When you begin to think about it the options are endless and the opportunities are huge.

Experience Essentials

A spa day is just like a wedding. If everything isn't perfectly executed the entire experience is dead. Moreover, many consumers complain that resort spas are expensive with much worse everything. Everything being customer care, quality of treatment execution, lack of personal service; the list really goes on and on. The why of this dilemma is really another article but destination spas must offer an experience par none. So, this means consistency of delivery with a personalized touch. This also means that management needs to manage the details while handing off some power to employees to enhance the guest's experience and fix problems as they arise. Most of all many destination properties are seasonal and this is a problem. Staffing is difficult and there is a definite disconnect in many areas of spa operations because the culture sometimes is not a family. Think about it when you are being touched can't you feel that person's mood, state of mind and attitude? Your spa is not your restaurant!

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.