Reorganizing Spa Operations to Leverage Automation and Technology

By Mia A. Mackman President & Owner, Mackman ES | December 10, 2017

Technology and automation are making exponential headway touching nearly all sectors of hospitality, including spa and wellness. This article reviews the impact and importance of integrating these systematisations to help stimulate and streamline the functionality and profitability of hotel and resort spa operations. Retooling the focus from manually centered services and embracing advancements in new technologies to support sustainable profitability and continued growth.

Interpersonal Service and Talent Drought

Spa treatments and correlating services are customarily viewed as manual-therapies with an important emphasis on the unique interface between (a client and a provider). This person-to-person relational component is a critical measure that often determines the overall experience and tone of the elected treatment or service, client satisfaction and the future efficacy of this relationship.

While personal-touch is an essential component of the spa industry, the impetus of the industry has accelerated at a rate much faster than the growth of the workforce necessary to support it. Combined with an influx in hospitality development, technological investment hesitation and mitigating employee turnover- keeping pace to hire and train new talent, have not made early adaption an easy process. Consequently, the lack of acclimatization not only impacts leadership, but operational consistency and fiscal volume.

A recent study conducted by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics found that employment within the beauty and wellness arenas hold substantial projected growth in the U.S. economy. The study discovered "hairdressers, barbers and cosmetologists have faster than average job growth, citing an average 10% annual increase in employment from 2014 to 2024." Furthermore, the study noted a "62% average annual turnover as people seek career advancement and new opportunities", resulting in "more than 400,000 available job openings per year," in the U.S. alone.

Further research by the Global Wellness Institute GWI, shared by the [Spa and Wellness Career Development Initiative][3] reports that "By 2018, we will need 2.7 MILLION employees in the spa industry to meet demand, with the United States, China, Germany, Japan, and Russia leading the job creation." This data underlines the scope of global spa, wellness and beauty growth which reveals the industry will "need an additional 80,000 Spa Managers and Directors and 500,000 Spa Therapists more than the workforce in 2013."

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Architecture & Design: Expecting the Unexpected

There are more than 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide and the hotel industry is continually looking for new ways to differentiate its properties. In some cases, hotels themselves have become travel destinations and guests have come to expect the unexpected - to experience the touches that make the property unlike any other place in the world. To achieve this, architects and designers are adopting a variety of strategies to meet the needs of every type of guest and to provide incomparable customer experiences. One such strategy is site-integration - the effort to skillfully marry a hotel to its immediate surroundings. The goal is to honor the cultural location of the property, and to integrate that into the hotel's design - both inside and out. Constructing low-impact structures that blend in with the environment and incorporating local natural elements into the design are essential to this endeavor. Similarly, there is an ongoing effort to blur the lines between interior and exterior spaces - to pull the outside in - to enable guests to connect with nature and enjoy beautiful, harmonious surroundings at all times. Another design trend is personalization - taking the opportunity to make every space within the hotel original and unique. The days of matching decor and furniture in every room are gone; instead, designers are utilizing unexpected textures, mix-and-match furniture, diverse wall treatments and tiles - all to create a more personalized and fresh experience for the guest. Finally, lobbies are continuing to evolve. They are being transformed from cold, impersonal, business-like spaces into warm, inviting, living room-like spaces, meant to provide comfort and to encourage social interaction. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.