Monday, August 30, 2010

Many in the Spa community have been shocked to learn of the demise of the Spa Chakra company? Probably, because they only saw the illusion of expertise that the principals portrayed! When I first witnessed what they were doing, it was during the Global Summit in New-York; I predicted then, their ultimate failure. And for the same reasons there will be many more to follow. The Spa business is first and foremost a people’s business, a human relations business, simply put it is a SERVICE industry, and all those who think that they will be successful by attending a Retail Sale workshop at ISPA, just failed to really understand what the Spa philosophy is all about and in time will have the same failure result of the Spa Chakra fate.

In the lectures that I give worldwide I very often use the Food and Beverage industry as a comparative, here again the analogy is the same: the restaurant business seems simple and many think that without a great deal of experience they can enter this activity and be successful? Nothing is more wrong! Nine out of ten restaurants that open close in failure within two years of opening! The very same thing is about to happen to the Spa would be experts. Yes, the Spa Chakra example is quite characteristic of the failures by not understanding the importance of the human element but it goes far beyond that. For a while, patrons of spas were uneducated and accepted whatever was served to them and were told that they should appreciate what they were receiving! For a time they did! But the planet is shrinking and travel is easier now than in the past, and as spa clients travelled abroad, in Asia, Europe the Middle East, they soon discovered services that were far superior to what they received at home! Little by little they went from Fast food criteria’s to Gourmet food expectancies, and in the process became more savvy and demanding. Unfortunately the service providers did not follow! And the worst of them fell and will fall through the cracks.

Americans have a cultural problem brought here by the first puritan settlers, they tend to view pleasure as a sin, they have a major problem with touch and with nudity, and these traits affect their behavior and are reflected in their attitude towards the clientele in spas. Massages represent some 82% of all treatment sought in spas worldwide! The average massage delivered in the U.S. referred to as a Full body massage does not work on feet, upper thighs, stomach, chest, buttocks and even hands and face! It is the laughing stock of the international spa community! The draping issue is another aberration! Some spas are starting to allow clients to decide how or if they want to be draped during a massage but most simply impose the Mummy wrap! This would be like imposing a bland curry to the patrons in an Indian or Thai restaurant!

Yes the time of reckoning is fast approaching. The stark and cold demeanor of spa workers will have to change to smiles and warmth, the menus in spas will have to reflect the subliminal desires of well-being and pleasure of the clientele rather than a pseudo-medical approach designed to justify the treatments. Of course this is not going to happen easily as there are too many conflicting interests: the massage schools who are more interested in impressing the students by scientific knowledge which they will never use, refusing to accept that the majority of the jobs for massage therapists today are in the Spa Industry, not in hospitals! And therefore teaching their students pseudo medical attitude rather than a service oriented one. The product manufacturers who are only interested in selling their products and offer “free training”? only designed to increase product sales at the expense of customer satisfaction. And adding insult to injury the many institutions of learning who, claiming an expertise in Management techniques pretend to teach management skills, but shunning the technical aspect of the industry which they feel is below their dignity to get involved in; producing otherwise brilliant young men and women who quite academically become an integral part of the Failure of the system.In what has become a Mutual Admiration Society the sentiments expressed above will rattle many but after objective introspection many will recognize the truth in my comments and take steps to correct the down spiral that they may be in. It is with that in mind that I offer these observations.


  1. I read this post a few days with a great deal of anticipation due to your previous honest, blunt, and direct comments re: the global spa community. You and Susie Ellis seem to be lone voices out there saying, ‘wake up’ people and look around you’. For that I say thank you.
    Living and working in Asia, and going back and forth between Spa and Hotel world, allows me to have a unique perspective ~ though I am not quite clear on the causes of the Spa Chakra situation I agree that Service delivery and consumer expectations seem to be a disconnect. I had begun to think it was me ~ but the more I experience Spas in various locations and types of Spas it seems like we are now becoming MORE mechanical and process driven vs gracious and thoughtful. Our Asian therapists, in the process of becoming more accredited and technically knowledgeable seem to be losing the spirit of providing care to consumers ~ sad, really.
    The other issues, ie product training who may teach how to sell products and techniques lacks an overall staff development of a more well rounded effective profit center. Recently, I visited a branded hotel spa and honestly, thought it the ‘product’ company’s spa since the personality of the brand seemed lost amidst all the product promotion. In addition, within a hotel environment if a spa is considered an amenity vs a profit center it will go without much attention to creating revenue, spa specific service skills, benchmarking, etc It is also possible to blend the management of the business & and the technical aspects of the business without having been a therapist just as being an effective GM may not require to have been a technically proficient Accountant or Director of Sales or Housekeeper.
    We have an evolving global business with room for varying points of view and again, I appreciate your point of view and look for forward to hearing more. Thank you.

  2. its great sharing, i really like it and i find it very help full and very informative,