Your Spa's Service MOJO!

By Jane Segerberg Founder & President, Segerberg Spa Consulting, LLC | May 27, 2012

Hotel and resort managers are masters of hospitality. Hospitality management out of all industries has the best understanding of the importance of excellent service in building business and creating a desire to return to the business. Yet, like "the cobbler's kids who have no shoes", hospitality seems to be so well ingrained in the hotelier's DNA that it is glossed over when it comes to the creation of a service culture for the property. In addition, when the property is part of a growing brand, the growth trends create inexorable demands for standardization. This is in direct opposition to the needs that coalesce around a higher level of service experience that distinguishes a property and requires even higher levels of service stewardship.

How would you rate your spa's service Mojo? Often it is expected that the spa, by its own nature, will organically produce high service levels. However, the intricate guest journey through the spa begs for a better focus on service expectations. Does your spa's service Mojo exemplify the Spa Industry? Is it on the cutting edge of caring for guests so that they can completely and totally relax and feel cared for?

The new luxury is authenticity. Service is valued when it is authentic and authentic service comes from the heart of a very passionate staff with a caring attitude. As the saying so correctly goes: Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Think of your last experience purchasing movie theater tickets or requesting service at the cell phone provider store. Everyone is "doing their job". They are processing payments or taking "the next person in line" and sometimes (but rarely) add in a smile and eye contact. Even with a smile and eye contact, we still walk away with the feeling that we were only "the next person in line". The experience certainly doesn't create a desire for us to return out of our own volition. We only return because it is a necessity or there is a new must-see movie.

On the other hand, keep in mind the place where the service and atmosphere is to die for and is unequalled in the area. When we leave we can't stop talking about it to our friends and acquaintances. The owners and staff are driven to excellence and are passionate about delighting the customer. Clearly there is a desire to return and we will as long as the quality doesn't slip away due to cutbacks, expansion or other tradeoffs and one day it is no longer special and has faded to ordinary.

We all know that great hospitality has to offer more than "the next person in line". Outstanding service should make a connection. The difference between another spa experience and one that is memorable enough to make guests look forward to a return visit is this: Consistently great service delivered with a sense of understanding the guest. We can remind staff to smile and we can train from a set of SOP's but we won't get much farther than a pleasant service experience. Pervasively consistent service is developed through more than a set of operating procedures. The missing link is the discussion with the spa team that focuses on the purpose of each position, how it fits into the entire scope of the guest journey experience, the driving reasons guests visit the spa and the resulting understanding of guest expectations. In other words training becomes guest centric and takes on a different approach.

First we discuss our future guests and why they come to a spa. We study various behaviors and the possible extenuating circumstances that could be driving those behaviors. Then we put ourselves in the guest's shoes. Next we establish what we want to achieve at each position and why. We then set about solving the "how" of achieving it. The staff begins to form their own explanation for why things are done a certain way at each guest touchpoint. As adults, the staff learns better from the standpoint of understanding, passion and ownership rather than rules. It is amazing to watch the engagement of the staff come alive with this approach.

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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.