Delegates from the 2011 Global Spa Summit were polled real time on the second day of the Summit. When asked to choose the spa industry’s greatest challenge, almost 1/3 of the delegates (28%) chose training & education. The second and third greatest challenges were “oversupply of spas” and “lack of professionalism”—which received less than half the votes. Since lack of professionalism is directly related to training and education, this puts the issue even more at the forefront.
Many in the spa industry were surprised that training and education were at the top of the challenges list. Why has training and education become such a critical issue for the success of the global spa industry? Here are some of my thoughts:
- Spa products and services, by nature, require a great deal of therapist education. Unlike the hair industry, the spa industry is training dependent for success. If therapists and managers do not understand key ingredients and the benefits of the treatments they are providing, they are unable to communicate this to consumers
- Similar to restaurants, spas have a lot of “moving parts” that require coordination and organization. In addition to technical knowledge, spa managers must have business skills such as financial forecasting and budgeting, marketing, product merchandising and customer service.
- Spa Directors must be motivators and leaders—skills which must be learned and rewarded. Programs like UC Irvine’s Spa & Hospitality Management program can help build these skills, but are rarely supported by the large hotel and spa chains.
- The spa industry has been dependent upon vendors to provide their education. Vendors must provide sales training in addition to product training. The cost of providing this training on site is often prohibitive. Vendors have been slow to build online training to supplement on site training.
- Lack of training and education directly impacts the consumer’s experience. It is therefore critical to improve competency levels to ensure the spa industry’s future success.
What are your thoughts on spa industry training and education? Spas, how are you training your employees on an ongoing basis? Vendors, how are you helping your spas improve their level of knowledge and provide a high level of technical skill and customer service?