28 Nov 2022 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2013 issue 4

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Leisure Management - Promotional Feature: Part 5

Promotional Feature

Promotional Feature: Part 5

President of WTS, Gary Henkin, says running a spa well demands a combination of key management skills and processes. He gives Spa Business the low down

Create memorable guest moments to encourage them to return
The ‘Pink Palace’ Loews Don CeSar Hotel & Spa, St Pete Beach, Florida, is WTS managed

Why is staff choice important?
The single most important decision any spa operator or owner can make is hiring, training and supervising a highly qualified staff which is strong on customer service. It’s very similar to the qualifications for opening a hotel or a restaurant.

Why is training important?
It is absolutely critical for your management team and the entire staff to be aware of and trained in the most current trends, modalities and spa business models to maximise revenue and net operating income.

Continuous education keeps the service providers and front desk teams engaged and excited about what’s going on in the spa, the services offered and the products for sale.

This engagement and excitement typically leads to increased revenue and a consistently high level of guest experience, but without staff training, the guest experience may be compromised and won’t be as consistent as you may wish with the standards in the remainder of the property.

What are the main priorities?
The success of your spa will be as much about making the guest feel special and cared for as anything else. If this doesn’t happen, you shouldn’t expect to retain those customers. Guest service should be the focus at every level within the facility and should include customisation and authenticity. Start with the premise that you are going to create memorable moments in a variety of ways, offering your spa patrons an experience they will remember and one that will encourage them to return to the spa again.

What does creating ‘memorable moments’ for guests involve?
It starts from the time a guest books a treatment and how the phone is answered to the time that they depart. The touch points for creating a memorable experience start with a warm and friendly front desk and include the journey through the spa.

The treatment has to be done by a highly qualified and trained staff so that the guest leaves the treatment room feeling refreshed with all their expectations met.

‘Wow’ moments for the guest can be created by the staff in the lounge areas, locker rooms and retail area. All staff should be engaged in creating a memorable service.

How should sales and marketing feature in spa management?
A well thought out marketing and sales plan is crucial. Many spas open without having thought through carefully just how they will be promoted and exposed both to the hotel population and to outside traffic.

One vital aspect is to develop and execute a plan which maximises the spa use at non-peak and during ‘off season’ periods and it’s important to spend time on this as part of your promotional marketing plan.

Many spas are busy from Thursday to Sunday but don’t pay enough attention to developing a stream of traffic during the less-used periods from Monday to Wednesday. This is particularly true in many hotel and resort spas, so a creative approach to developing traffic during these times becomes very important. It may hold the key to whether your spa is financially viable or not.

Can you give examples of ways to market during ‘off peak’ periods?
The marketing plan can include special rates which take effect at a certain time of the day or on a particular day of the week.

Real-time promotion through the use of social media, such as last minute promotions on Facebook, Twitter and eblasts can be done with particular treatments.

Off peak promotions can be targeted at the non-hotel population to encourage a visit to the spa for express treatments.

A quarterly Open House event can make new consumers aware of the spa, who can then be invited for promotions during the quiet off peak times.

What management support should be expected from product vendors?
Product selection and vendor participation through training and product oversight is crucial to the spa’s success. Vendors can be asked to assist in the development of marketing and merchandising plans and to provide continuous training and excitement for staff members.

In addition, product suppliers can help develop a treatment menu and marketing materials with regard to treatment descriptions and protocols.

Vendors will visit the spa periodically to display new products and provide product insights and arrange merchandising.

Vendors will also participate in the creation and promotion of on-site events to promote product sales and exposure. They will help develop special promotions and will provide gifts for consumers.

What IT systems are needed?
The basics required for an effective data management system include:
• Appointment booking
• Inventory management
• Online appointment booking
• Gift card sales
• Daily/weekly/monthly reporting

Should we operate the spa, lease it or hire a third party operator to manage it?
Each of these options should be considered carefully months in advance of opening.

Owner-managed spas require attention from the owners or property managers, along with consumer experience and the ability to produce the financial results.

Leases can create a guaranteed rental stream, but control and authority often pass to the tenant. The owner and the tenant may not always be on the same page and goals and objectives may be compromised.

In selecting a tenant, ensure there’s enough financial wherewithal to overcome a downturn in the economy or unforeseen pitfalls. Make ownership goals and expectations clear well before the spa opens.

Management/third party operators won’t create an ownership loss of control, identity or authority. Instead, there can be an increased focus on the operation of the spa, with additional benefits from training, support and resources available to the staff.

How might a third party management option be structured?
The most important consideration is that the third party operator is a good fit for the spa, based on its experience and philosophy. It’s also critical to develop this relationship as a partnership, as the management will need input and direction from the ownership or property management group.

Communication is vital and there needs to be a consistent stream of reports, data, ideas and recommendations from the operator.

WTS International provides daily operations and management services for over 100 spa, fitness, wellness and leisure facilities worldwide. The service includes training and management of staff, development of revenue generating promotions and marketing, financial oversight, retail sales and merchandising. Clients include: Tianjin Spa, China; The Woodstock Resort & Spa, US; Stejarii Club & Spa, Romania and The Spa at Trump, US.

Contact WTS International
Tel +1 301 622 7800
Fax +1 301 622 3373

Originally published in Spa Business 2013 issue 4

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