Spa Development and Asset Management: Human Capital Management

By Peter Anderson Founder, Anderson & Associates | October 28, 2008

In a spa environment, both customer and employee expectations are different expectations... from many other business environments. Specific medical and psychotherapy environments aside, there are few business environments where "customers" are expected to be naked physically, metaphorically or both. This exposure, in turn sets the bar for the therapists to deliver an ultra-high level of care and nurturing which is (not surprisingly) independent of the price of the treatment.

Insight, sensitivity and compassion are elements that should be organically incorporated into a spa's corporate culture. Spa employees, like other departments in a hotel, should think of themselves as a "family". Respect of the faux-family means minimizing opportunities for in-fighting while maximizing the synergistic power of the spa team. Building a team of competent and caring technicians is the most important step in creating a successful spa.

Items that go into building that team, discussed in this article, include:

Establish Proactive Communication

As the resort or spa manager/owner, one of your main objectives is to convey to your employees what you want of them. Establishing and maintaining this mutual understanding is one of the keys to successful management of a spa.

Communication in a spa environment through regular, informal conversation is necessary because this is part of the continual management process. Vision and Mission must be reiterated in EVERY manner possible...i.e., written, orally, newsletters, e-mails, conversations, and most of all in ACTIONS. Because communication is both a function of words and deeds, nothing undermines effective leadership more than when words and actions (from management) are not in sync. As a default, the workers will always believe the actions.

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Coming up in March 2019...

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.