Key Points in Successful Hotel Spa Management

By Leslie Glover Owner & CEO, Aspen Spa Management | September 16, 2012

Spa management in most hotels is mediocre: a bold statement indeed but unfortunately the truth. So, why is it that in most hotels the spa operation is not up to par with the rest of the usually excellent management? Simply put there are two major reasons: 1. hoteliers try to apply hotel management principles to the operation of the spa; and 2. hoteliers assign the responsibility of management to inexperienced staff.

To understand this concept better let us look at another department of the hotel, Food and Beverage. Would you ask a waiter, a busboy, or even a Maître d' to put in place the management systems of the restaurant? No, I don't think you would, yet this is what happens in many cases with the spa; hoteliers many times trust the Spa Director to set up the management system. Even though they could come up with a workable plan, based on their limited knowledge, the result will not be spectacular. Another factor is that in the majority of cases hotels to not coordinate or include the spa as they would other departments of the hotel, which creates a disconnection in the overall image and management philosophy.

Hotel spa management requires a holistic and comprehensive understanding of what is at stake. It starts with understanding that there are literally dozens of different approaches to spa services and their delivery in a hotel. The proper menu which will satisfy the expectations of the targeted clientele is the first step to success. Just copying the menu from another hotel or the local beauty salon will not do the job. The next step is to match the menu items with the ability of the staff to perform treatments. All too often the staff has not been adequately taught in their schools. Only when the first two steps have been accomplished, can you start thinking about intelligent spa management solutions.

In the management process there are two levels as well: first is the day to day management such as staff scheduling, reservations, inventory controls, staff training, etc… and second is the interpretation of the management results and the implementation of corrections, upgrades, problem identifications and solutions. Also included is marketing, menu improvements, economical efficiencies and maximization of profits without diminishing quality also needs to be addressed.

A Revenue Manager is the buzz word in hotel management. Using hotel management benchmarks without adapting them to the way spas operate might impress the financial auditor. RevPar, average ticket orders, etc… are nice to know, but serve little purpose in improving the spa's performance. As in most cases financial statements are tools which serve a purpose only if you know how to interpret them.

When the technical operation has reached a minimum of quality in performance it will be helpful to know the percentage of clients in the hotel that use spa services. Other important data to track should include:

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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.