Spa Trade: “Do you need to teach your staff the things their mamas never taught them?”

April 20th, 2010 by Nancy Griffin

I’ve been thinking about the issue of service and hospitality after reading the latest Coyle Hospitality Research  that shows nearly 2 out of every 3 people that have a bad experience at a spa stated staff behavior as the problem.

Coyle asked consumers two straightforward questions 1. What spa provided you with the worst experience last year? and 2. Why?  “People” complaints included issues with the receptionist, reservationist, therapist, or spa staff member.  Over 100 complaints were that the staff was not listening, responsive about special needs, or accommodating, 82 stated that the therapist talked too much,  and 60 stated an unfriendly, impersonal, robotic staff as the problem. Twenty three even found the staff  “demeaning and offensive”!

Spa owners, you have your work cut out for training your staff on on all the various professional protocols, but is training in basic common courtesy needed as well?  A well-meaning but inappropriate therapist can turn a client off in an instant–especially when that client is naked and vulnerable. That therapist has 100% chance of making that person’s day, or 100% chance of turning that person off forever and assuring that they never return.

So what can you do? Well, for one thing, do your best to make sure the people you hire have friendly and warm dispositions. Remember the old adage “leapards don’t change their spots”–you can’t teach kindness. Spend some time with prospects and look for signs that they were not “raised in a barn.”  Have an employee manual that spells out how people should act, and practice role playing so that your employees know how to act in awkward situations. Above all, use mystery shopping as a tool to measure the effects of your policies on the guests’ experience.

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