Key Points in Successful Hotel Spa Management

By Leslie Glover Owner & CEO, Aspen Spa Management | September 16, 2012

Spa management in most hotels is mediocre: a bold statement indeed but unfortunately the truth. So, why is it that in most hotels the spa operation is not up to par with the rest of the usually excellent management? Simply put there are two major reasons: 1. hoteliers try to apply hotel management principles to the operation of the spa; and 2. hoteliers assign the responsibility of management to inexperienced staff.

To understand this concept better let us look at another department of the hotel, Food and Beverage. Would you ask a waiter, a busboy, or even a Maître d' to put in place the management systems of the restaurant? No, I don't think you would, yet this is what happens in many cases with the spa; hoteliers many times trust the Spa Director to set up the management system. Even though they could come up with a workable plan, based on their limited knowledge, the result will not be spectacular. Another factor is that in the majority of cases hotels to not coordinate or include the spa as they would other departments of the hotel, which creates a disconnection in the overall image and management philosophy.

Hotel spa management requires a holistic and comprehensive understanding of what is at stake. It starts with understanding that there are literally dozens of different approaches to spa services and their delivery in a hotel. The proper menu which will satisfy the expectations of the targeted clientele is the first step to success. Just copying the menu from another hotel or the local beauty salon will not do the job. The next step is to match the menu items with the ability of the staff to perform treatments. All too often the staff has not been adequately taught in their schools. Only when the first two steps have been accomplished, can you start thinking about intelligent spa management solutions.

In the management process there are two levels as well: first is the day to day management such as staff scheduling, reservations, inventory controls, staff training, etc… and second is the interpretation of the management results and the implementation of corrections, upgrades, problem identifications and solutions. Also included is marketing, menu improvements, economical efficiencies and maximization of profits without diminishing quality also needs to be addressed.

A Revenue Manager is the buzz word in hotel management. Using hotel management benchmarks without adapting them to the way spas operate might impress the financial auditor. RevPar, average ticket orders, etc… are nice to know, but serve little purpose in improving the spa's performance. As in most cases financial statements are tools which serve a purpose only if you know how to interpret them.

When the technical operation has reached a minimum of quality in performance it will be helpful to know the percentage of clients in the hotel that use spa services. Other important data to track should include:

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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.