Critical Steps to Open Your Spa Effectively

By Gary Henkin President & Founder, WTS International | April 24, 2010

Thus, it is ever more critical to appropriately plan your spa for a successful launch, both from an operational and financial perspective. If you don't take the necessary steps in the pre-opening process, your spa may disappoint guests and non-guests alike, and chances that it will ever be profitable are greatly diminished. As critical as it is to offer the most aesthetically pleasing and functional space through a thoughtful design process, it is equally important to "stage" your spa for a smooth launch. This requires focus on what the ultimate objectives will be and a clear definition as to how the spa will ultimately operate.

If you are planning the addition of a spa now or at a future date, take the time to follow the steps below and include them in your launch plan.

Begin With a Timeline

It is easiest to work backward from the official opening date for the spa. Create milestones for such areas as staff selection, training schedule, menu development, OS&E orders, retail product selection, spa uniforms, licensing and permit documents, marketing plan, operating budget, and numerous others. Complete the timeline with all of the details leading to those milestones to ensure that you hit them. Track your progress so that you don't fall behind.

Your Spa Should Have an Identity

Prior to (or during) the pre-opening process, you would be well served to consider the creation of an identity or "vision" for the spa. This is extremely helpful in positioning, delineating and selling the spa before it opens. Having a brand or theme can develop consumer anticipation and set the spa apart from competition. It also helps in the menu development process, product and OS&E selection. A clear identity, theme and/or brand will give your business a magnet to attract hotel guests and other day spa consumers.

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Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.