Turn Key Spa: Is such a thing possible for your hotel?

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

Brand Bonuses

Like any franchise concept, a strong brand brings with it certain qualities. Brands are typically recognizeable. Hotel guests who are travelling can recognize the brand and assume that they are familiar with the product. In other words, they are safe with the product and have some notion of what to expect during the service. A brand allows for accountability of quality in an unknown environment. Finally a brand of any type draws the client in. Like a safety net the brand is a welcome sign over an unfamiliar establishment. Because it is human nature to be drawn to the familiar, a brand allows for the hotel guest to feel more at home and, consequently, much more prone to take part in enjoying the spa.

Brand are more likely to have tested and time proven signature products. Consquently no matter the location of the spa, hotel guests will be prone to purchase. staples, new items, travel sets and items prescribed by the spa staff during their visit whether travelling for business or pleasure. Because spas are so very dependent on retail sales to plump profit margins, this difference is significant. Moreover, retail sales are typically where hotel spas really fall short--painfully lacking in retail sales as well as generating a repeat clientele. Brands help to establish sturdy foundations for both generating both more robust retail sales and creating repeat business particularly among business travelers or those who enjoy relaxing at the same spot season after season.

Brands actually lend some security to the employment equation as well. Because spa technicians can be uncertain of their skill sets early on in their careers they are reassured by the stability, routine and procedural certainty of a franchise or licensed brand. Following a step by step instructional for each service offered is usually exactly what estheticians are looking for when considering the ideal working environment. Furthermore, the working environment within a facility known for a brand is much more secure ensuring the aura of continuing employment, a steady paycheck and even opportunities within the company as a whole whether that be within the hotel chain or the brand as a separate entity. The opportunities offered by a brand are perceived as being greater whether that perception is real or imagined.

Brand Pitfalls

Although it seems like implementing a brand within your hotel will solve the problems brought on by the inclusion of a spa facility, this is oftentimes not at all the case. Day to day operations and management issues that plague many spas are common at spa franchises as well. Because the brand concept is new, most licensing programs or franchises simply have not worked out the multiple problems that occur daily at spas. Many regional chains of spas have created solutions for common problems like having extra staff to cover for sick employees, managing the many issues brought about by poor skill sets, bad attitudes and faulty social skills among staff and high expectations on the part of clients. When a brand gets it right the assumption is that something will go wrong everyday and there will be an instant solution to the problem that has been tried and perfected within the system.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.