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Inspiring Spa Takeaways.
By Leslie Lyon.
Tuesday, 9th December 2008
 
I'm going to wrap up our year of "Spas2b Inspired By" with a bit of a different approach. I'd like to share with you some of the inspiring spa experiences I have had over recent months, as well as my "Top 5 Spa Inspirations", or in other words, what I consider to be inspiring when I walk into, work with, or get to know a spa.

I hope you will grab a few of your own takeaways here, and perhaps find new inspirations in your world of spa. And for 2009, we have many more exciting Spas2b Inspired By. Remember, if you would like to be considered as one of our spa features, contact me personally at the number listed - I look forward to your entries!

Spas2b Inspired by...or a Lesson Learned?While attending a Woman's Convention earlier this year, one of the speakers said something that I have never forgotten. She said that if you come away from a Conference with 2 or 3 good contacts, you have done well. That comment really put things into perspective for me. And since then, I have applied that benchmark to other situations, including my many visits to spas and the "takeaways" I find at each of them. Whether I'm on a family trip, or a business trip; and I encounter an inspirational takeaway, or it's a lesson learned, these observations always make the experience so wonderfully worthwhile.

At the ISPA Conference in Las Vegas last year, I visited the Qua Spa at Caesar's Palace. The simple, yet ultimate idea of having cedar warming closets for their client's robes really excited me! The little "fireplaces" contained in the closets were absolutely brilliant! And the Bellagio in Vegas re-sparked my passion for jaw dropping decorating ideas when I viewed the stunning, vivid, hand blown glass flowers by world-renowned artist, Dale Chihuly, gracing the ceiling of the Bellagio lobby.

The "epic" ski conditions in Aspen Colorado were inspirational enough, but while at the Remede Spa in the St. Regis Hotel, I was further inspired. The smooth stones and pebbles used in the flooring; showers; and waterfall areas provided me with a unique perspective on new flooring ideas. The 2 hour "all-in" facial was a glorious experience, and it was interesting to note that the therapist used a ladle to fill shower caps with paraffin wax to wrap my hands and feet in. It was extraordinary to see this safe; efficient and cost effective method being employed in such an elite spa. And that evening at the hotel's restaurant, "Olives", the little coal burning BBQ that the youngest member of our family received to roast his hand-twirled marshmallow Smores dessert, was fascinating and won't soon be forgotten. These are just three of my inspiring takeaways from this fantastic hotel spa experience.

The sensational multi-nozzle shower made with exotic moulds and colourful mosaic tiles at the Pebble Beach Spa in California was a spectacle to behold and inspired me to imagine that perhaps even a scaled down version could be just as fantastic as this one was, if done as well. The four-hands massage at La Costa Spa in California confirmed to me that spa treatments are an art and above all else, our therapists must be trained to become artists. And the (Deepak) Chopra Centre's unique selection of spiritual gifts, including posters; stones; scarves; candles; tapes & books, reminded me that shopping is an activity; it's entertainment. We are either hunters or gatherers, and if the terrain is interesting and the winnings are easy, we will not pass up these irresistible "must have" items.

And aside from the most exhilarating experience of my life; zip trekking 300 feet in the air between Blackholm and Whistler mountains in BC, the Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel in Whistler sold me on the incredibly plush Kashwere line of extraordinary home furnishings.

Lessons LearnedBut of course, there must also be the lessons learned. In a recent spa visit, as I stood showering the mud off my body, I took note of how important it was for me to remember to NEVER locate a see-through glass shower door in line with the entrance to the treatment room, especially if the room is off a busy hallway. This is not a spectator sport people! And if your client (unfortunately) has to get their robe on to travel to a nearby shower in order to clean off a sugar or seaweed wrap, make sure you purchase reversible robes. There's nothing more uncomfortable than having to put the robe back on after you're showered clean, and feel the scratch of the exfoliant all over again. Oh, and always have your signage prominently displayed. When you don't know the spa that well yet, accidentally walking into the men's change room from the co-ed wet floor could be (was) embarrassing!

Repeatedly, the biggest lesson learned for me, is taking the time to plan my spa outings in advance of the trip. In Sedona and Tucson Arizona I missed out on both Mii amo and Canyon Ranch spas because of my poor planning. Fortunately the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon was a takeaway of such grand proportions, that it replaces all of my unfortunate scheduling malfunctions!

What's inspires you? Or what lessons have you learned? I'd love to hear your responses in our Spas2b Community Forum at www.spas2b.com/forum Come and join in today!

My 5 Top Spa Inspirations

When I see any of these 5 items in practice inside a spa, I am impressed. The business of spa has to dominate the luxury of spa, now more than ever. And if you're in the minority and have instigated even one of these Top 5 Inspirations, congratulations. And keep the momentum going by moving onto the next challenge, and then the next, until you have addressed the tough demands that running a sustainable spa business puts on you.

Great Leadership - I know a great leader when I see one. They've taken on the role to inspire and lead by example. Their active, positive involvement encourages their staff to become more respectful; tolerant; open-minded; and agreeable to processes and expectations. Their staff may even endure a slightly lower pay scale; a bit of a commute into work; and less than ideal surroundings, because their leader is also their mentor. These gifted, rare individuals have avoided judgemental behaviours and lack of support because they have probably dedicated 50-60% of their day on their staff. They have earned their MBWA degree (Management by Walking Around - Hewlett Packard) and are proof that when you are there for your staff, good business will follow. Great spas ALWAYS stem from great leadership.

Branded Marketing - When I see a business that has exceptional visual branding, I am spontaneously drawn in with excitement. But I have learned over the years that short term visual appeal is not enough to hold long term client appeal. Many spa owners have their visual image developed before they open their doors, including decor and marketing materials. And they have trained their staff on behaviours and techniques that will represent the guest experience, so they believe that they have branded the business. But the thing about branding is that it's very wise and soulful, and sometimes takes time to reveal its true self. It may change direction many times over and even misguide you. But then all of a sudden, one day it smiles back at you in the mirror, and you find your footing together.

Decisions are made easier; you know when to say "yes", and more importantly, you know when to say "no" - your brand has come alive within your business. Don't be afraid to learn your brand and its personality. But know that it is a demanding friend. When it reveals itself to you, it will expect you to promote and market it graphically; aggressively; and repetitively and never deviate from it.

Well Run Business Systems - Scripting your staff; developing service protocols and full operational procedures, is a monumental task. So when I witness a spa running like a fine-tuned machine, I am in absolute awe. More often than not however, I see portions of the business running well, while other areas may be suffering. Management is usually responsible for installing the business systems, but what if you're a small business and you're also the Leader, and on top of that, still servicing a clientele?

Small business, or large, if you are lacking these standards, the easiest way to approach this assignment is to purchase generic Standard Spa Operating Procedure manuals, and start NOW, it's never too late, or too soon. Work with your clerical staff on these generic prototypes to eventually develop your customized SOP Manual. Allow the manual to be a "work in progress", with ongoing modifications and upgrades until it becomes a comprehensive training and reference tool for both you and your staff. Train and re-train staff as the business evolves and very importantly, always uphold these procedures with ongoing staff support and tools. Focus on the end result; give this manual time to develop; and you too can have a well run business.

Knowledge of Finances - When you manage your finances; you're better able to control your business outcomes. Ignoring what the numbers are telling you, doesn't mean everything is ok. Bill Cosby once said, "Just because you don't know you have it, doesn't mean you don't have it". He was referring to physical illness, but it's the same thing; closing your eyes to a possible problem doesn't mean it's not there. The business owner who knows the difference between revenue and profit; and an Income Statement and a Cash Flow Statement, is my hero. And even better yet, a spa that is using Yield Management techniques is absolutely stellar in my eyes. Yield management is knowing what your best mix of services and products are and how and when to sell them in order to generate the highest revenue and profit. Take this important step and make the numbers a part of your future. I promise the results will prove to be inspiring (or a lesson learned)! Either way, you MUST know.

A Maintenance and Growth Plan - A smart spa owner has plans in place to gain; retain; and grow staff; clients; and overall business outcomes. And an even smarter spa owner makes these goals measurable. Big spas will quite often have these kinds of plans in place, and it's always interesting to note that accomplishing the goal is often achieved with the same technical approach. At Spas2b, we believe there are basically 5 steps to achieving almost any goals you set your mind to - with FOCUS being the key ingredient. For example, you may say "I am going build my client base by 500 clients this year". So you might:

  • Set plans for achieving the goals by determining the methods you will use to build your client base;
  • Design the plan so that it can be measured mathematically, by reasonably calculating the number of new client's you'll need to attract each month in order to attain your goal;
  • Decide on who's accountable for meeting the plan by assigning specific staff to the task;
  • Pro-rate and then allot corresponding achievement timelines over the period of plan so that you know if you're on target, which will help you control the outcome;
  • Measure your tangible outcomes at the end of the plan campaign.
Being able to measure the outcome with numerical values is the only way you'll know if you were successful. So don't just hope for a year over year increase, set your sights on it (FOCUS) and make it happen
Have questions? Contact Leslie personally at 1-519-585-0626, or llyon@spas2b.com.

Spas2b is a full-service Spa Development, Consulting and Training company based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Spas2b draws on the extensive experience of its President, Leslie Lyon. Leslie has evolved with the Health and Beauty Industry for more than 30 years and has participated in many aspects of the Spa trade. An Aesthetician and Electrologist for 25 years, today Leslie enjoys her profession as an International Consultant, Educator, Key Note Speaker, Published Columnist and Freelance Writer www.spas2b.com

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