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Spa management shortcomings

Friday 19th April 2013

“A fundamental challenge facing Spa business is the lack of people with the right skills to fill management level positions.”  Anna Bjurstam writes:

The driving force behind any spa’s success is the Spa Manager/Director; the captain of the ship - his or her way of leading the business will make or break the spa. An expert knowledge of spa and wellness and strong people skills is not enough for a leading spa manager, who also needs to be on top of operations fundamentals, customer service and be an excellent manager, administrator, able to act on performance statistics, (KPIs), and ultimately, possess the wisdom and confidence to lead the team through the inevitable ups and downs. The key shortcomings of most aspiring Spa Managers – according to a recent survey – are hard business skills such as strategic planning, spa finance, revenue management and marketing. So in order to stand out in today’s tough, competitive job market, education is paramount…

Three typical sources of spa managers:

1. Hiring someone from outside the spa business

Since most spas believe that on-the-job learning and mentoring are still the most important ways for spa managers/directors to gain their skills, this is the challenge with hiring someone with the right education but yet outside the spa business.

2. Recruiting a spa management graduate from university or college

There are approximately 64 spa management-related degree programs available in universities, colleges, and schools around the world. Most of these programs are still new and have very little recognition among the spa industry and are as not as well-connected as they need to be.  These courses are usually taken prior to entering the workforce.

Managers/directors who come into their jobs directly out of a university/college degree program or out of a non-spa job do not come equipped with a deep, first hand understanding of the spa world and its intricacies. So while these managers/directors may be strong on hard skills like management, finance and marketing, they are often weak on the soft skills (such as understanding of the detail of spa operations) and people skills needed to manage the therapists and clients in the spa.

3. Promoting existing spa employees into management positions

Providers of continuing education services are also new, fragmented, and constantly evolving, and there is no one “proven” model for effectively delivering training to employees already in the workforce to equip them for senior positions.

Promoting existing spa employees into management roles also has its pros and cons. There are at least 41 providers of spa management continuing education globally. Most are private companies (offering short courses, workshops), but some are schools/universities offering longer professional certificate programs. The challenge with these is that there is still not any well-defined educational or career pathway for entering spa management or worldwide spa management accreditation. Many spa industry executives believe promoting from within is a very successful and desirable model for sourcing managers because people who have already worked in the spa have a deep, first hand understanding of that spa’s culture and operational structure. They can bring that knowledge to their management role, and for this purpose shorter spa management courses are ideal. On the other hand, for a person without spa experience seeking a management position, a shorter course is unlikely to be adequate.

What about online education?

Online education is increasing fast and is clearly the future in education. While you lose personal contact and the discipline of someone else telling you exactly what to do, what you gain is time, flexibility, support whenever you need it and the chance to study the way that suits you.

Raison d’Etre has worked with more than 100 spas in 60 different countries, created eight of the world’s best known spa brands and educated over 150 spa managers in the past 8 years. Our bespoke spa training has strongly contributed to making each of our spas profitable and sustainable. One of the company’s core values is to “Grow People” and our commitment to this and to meeting the needs of the spa industry has led to the creation of an online and easily accessible spa management education programme. Our mission is to share our spa management knowledge and contribute skills that will make the spa management market stronger by helping to solve the problem of under-educated spa managers.

The center of the Raison d’Etre Spa Management Online Course is reality based training, built on the solid operational experience of the senior industry experts who have created this course. Market orientation is crucial and so the course is updated every year following global spa management research. We teach all the key steps to success in spa management and provide the best tools, ideas and strategies for the student’s future spa while developing their own confidence and leadership skills. The students leave with a customized and successful business plan for their own spa.

This is only one of the courses on the market and there will be many more in the future as the spa and wellness industry grows. Along the way, the Global Spa & Wellness Spa Management committee will continue their work in improving the spa management workforce system.  

Anna Bjurstam

Board member, Global Spa & Wellness Summit
Committee member, Spa Management Education committee
Vice President, Six Senses Spas
Owner, Raison d’Etre
 

Resources:
2012 Research Report: “Spa Management Workforce and education: Addressing Market Gaps”

 

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