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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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.