Measuring Employee Productivity in the Hotel Spa

By Peggy Borgman President, Preston Wynne, Inc. | October 28, 2008

Or are they? Not all "stay" spas are the same. A business-driven hotel will actually have high repeat clientele. Spa utilization may run toward a single treatment, such as a massage or a manicure, rather than all-day indulgences. A resort may attract the same guests year after year, especially if they've had a memorable and satisfying experience. These guests may visit the spa more than once during their stay-a form of retention that is little acknowledged. The distinction here is the visit interval-not whether a guest returns, but when. Understanding typical guest behavior can enable you to create realistic measurements of guest retention by spa employees.

For example, a hotel guest enjoys a massage during their visit, and decides to book a pedicure for the following day. Is this actually customer retention? You bet! If the guest had a negative experience with their massage therapist, they are much less likely to enjoy another treatment. So "retention" measurements should take into account how often a guest who works with one technician, also returns to the spa for additional appointments.

The hotel spa employee is a part of a complex and multi-faceted guest experience, but the spa experience, it's been shown, is one of the most impactful elements of a stay. This shouldn't come as a surprise; after all, there are few other situations in which a guest will be in such personal and physical contact with an employee. As well, there are few situations more fraught with expectations and intimidation than the spa visit. Guest expectations are incredibly high, and at the same time, they're concerned that they may not be "worthy" of the services they're receiving. Spa guests routinely fret over their physical appearance, in a way that restaurant guests do not. Seldom does a dinner guest apologize to a waiter for the burden of having to serve him, but that's exactly what happens when that same guest gingerly places her feet in the hands of a pedicurist. This self-consciousness can also manifest itself in over-sensitivity to imagined slights. So a successful spa experience is far from the slam dunk that we often imagine it to be. The "moments of truth" in a typical spa appointment are endless.

An article in Harvard Business Review in 2004 reported that a link between customer satisfaction and bottom line profit is measured most accurately by a very specific question. In the study cited, many different forms of customer satisfaction questions were posed, but the one that showed the most precise correlation with profitability was this:

"On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to refer someone you know to our company?"

The study showed that scores of 9 and 10 were indicators of healthy profit, but that scores of 7 or below meant serious trouble: even a score of 7 indicated that a customer was an "active detractor," energetically badmouthing the business.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.