Follow the Spa Industry Leaders: Shane Kelly

American Spa recently caught up with Shane Kelly, director of spa operations at Lantana Spa at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. Kelly began his spa journey in 1994 at MGM Resorts, and since has held roles in the spas at Bellagio Las Vegas; Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas; Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica; and Four Seasons Hotel Chicago before landing his current role at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. 

What is currently the biggest procurement challenge to your business? 

Rising inflation presents significant challenges for procurement processes. Cost escalation is one example. Inflation typically leads to an increase in the cost of goods and services. For spa teams, this means we may have to spend more money to acquire the same quantity of goods or services as before. I have one supplier that has gone through two price changes in the past 12 months. This can strain budgets as most are written annually and are difficult to adjust once in motion. 

What is your most fruitful resource for finding new suppliers? 

Finding new suppliers can be crucial for ensuring diverse and relevant offerings. I feel it is difficult to narrow it down to one, but here are my top two: 

  • Peer Referrals: We all share ideas with our peers and don’t always look at each other as competition, yet resources that we can share these ideas or feedback with. 

  • Trade Shows (e.g. IECSC, ISPA, SPATEC): Trade shows and industry conferences are great events for networking, but they also attract a wide range of suppliers showcasing their products and services. Attending events provides you the opportunity to meet suppliers face-to-face and establish new business relationships.

Where do you think there are gaps in product offerings?

Technology is advancing rapidly across the world we work in, especially in the realm of AI.  We have an amazing relationship with our partners at Book4Time, and they are always looking for ways to make our OS better and are receptive to new development ideas. As AI becomes more prevalent in our industry, I believe we will someday have our systems become more synergized by AI. AI will be capable of evaluating your inventory levels, your sell-through rate, and create more efficient par levels and go as far as generating purchase orders to maintain your pars. 

How can suppliers better work with buyers and operators? 

Suppliers should continuously strive to improve their processes, products, and services based on feedback from buyers and operators. If your buyer is frustrated because something is on back order, be welcoming to this frustration and explain how you are going to try and prevent it in the future. 

Are there any specific products or solutions that you are currently researching and/or purchasing? 

I am closely observing what Aescape is doing. They are pioneering lifestyle robotics in an industry that has always been about human touch. I am excited by this new wellness path they are creating. 

What are the top three most important criteria you look for when securing a supplier? 

My big three are communication, quality assurance, and support.  

  1. We must have open communication. Even when things are not perfect, we must be open to discussing solutions or ways to avoid the same outcome in the future. 
  2. We know the quality is amazing, but it can be frustrating and a waste of time when you open an order and see that the amazing product has been damaged in transit and needs to be replaced. 
  3. Whether through education, merchandising/marketing strategies, or GWP for events; it is a partnership that when working cohesively creates a win/win for both supplier and operator.