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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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.