Report on the 2012 ISPA Conference & Expo in Kissimmee, Florida
In October 1911, two teams of explorers left the coast of Antarctica to try to be the first people in history to reach the South Pole. The Norwegian team, led by Amundsen, got to the South Pole first. British naval officer, Robert Falcon Scott, and the British team reached the pole second, 34 days later. Amundsen and his team made it back to their base at Polheim on the exact date that Amundsen had put in his planning journals when he was making his plans in Norway. Meanwhile, Scott and every member of his team died on the way back, about 10 or 11 miles from a supply depot. Jim Collins used this story to illustrate the way leaders he has studied led their companies. He identified the characteristics of great leaders - those that led their organizations to do 10X as well as others even in bad economic times.
"Great” meets 3 tests:
Great leaders have:
Collins provided 12 questions to help get on the path to building something Great:
Lead with a spirit of service. The quest is not to succeed but to grow.
Mind, Body, Spirit
Mind: Deborah Szekely, known and respected by many as the "Godmother of the spa industry," celebrated her 90th birthday this year. She said the secret is a balance life. Creativity is the fun part. It keeps the mind fresh and challenged and allows for inner growth. To keep young, you need oxygen to keep the brain functional. Conscience breathing and movement are obligatory. The mind requires exercise daily. Silence is a time for meeting with your mind. Deborah does this at breakfast while looking at her garden. There is a cosmic rise in energy in the morning. She enjoys the flavors of food and the flavors of thoughts. Some flutter past, some are plucked and examined and thought about. These are the thoughts that color her day. Deborah uses her calendar to study the week that has passed and evaluates how she spent her time. Did she spend it well? What did she learn? What was helpful? What changes need to be made to be of greater service? She counsels to not be afraid if you have a grasshopper mind - one that hops sideways. The mind opens like a flower when it finds things it likes. The mind grows and develops and can improve until the day you die. On her 90th birthday, Deborah launched WellnessWarriors.org that encourages people to take ownership of their own health and asks for help to fund a wellness lobby in Washington, D.C.
Body: Dr. Jordan Metzl, a Sports Medicine Physician at New York City's Hospital for Special Surgery, presented, "Mens Sana in Corpore Sano - Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body. Keys to Optimizing Physical and Mental Health." He believes spas are the future wave of preventive health. Currently we spend billions on treating disease. We wait until we are "broken." Exercise is medicine. He suggests setting fitness goals that are realistic, use the right gear and strengthen to prevent injuries.
Spirit: Louis Schwartzberg, an award-winning cinematographer, director and producer has been shooting time lapsed photography of flowers 24x7 for over 30 years. He played three films for us that were stunningly beautiful. In nature, everything is connected. All is interdependent. Half the food we eat is from a pollenating plant. The A note tuning fork is the same as a buzzing bee pollinating. Nature envelops you and opens your heart. It's not just another day, it's the one day given to you now. Spend the day with eyes open to colors. We rarely look at the sky. We just think about the weather. This day is unique. Open your eyes and look at the clouds. Look at the faces of people you meet. Let everyone you meet on this day will be blessed by you. Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch, just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then it will really be a good day. You can see Louis' presentation on gratitude here and Hidden Beauty: A Love Story That Feeds the Earth (in French) here.
Inspiring Innovation and Behavior Change
Peter Sheahan says there is evidence of threats and opportunities right in front of us, but we can't see it. He gave a number of examples of companies that didn't see the opportunities and some that did. The opportunities are in things that are already on the fringe of the industry. He talked about the S curve of business and the point of opportunity. Move early, learn fast. Change is slow until it isn't. Example Fuji recognized the need for change in 2000 and moved. Kodak didn't until 2002. A nod to Jim Collin - shoot bullets early, not late. Because by the time you need to shoot cannonballs, you have to move fast. Don't let the market force your learning. Don't be the business on the trends, but do investigate the trends. Don't wait until competitors get into a space and take it from you. Leadership requires that you suspend
and look from a distance. There is gravity to success. It tempts you to return to old ways. It is the biggest barrier to getting to the next level. What got us here today is not what will get us to where we need to go.
Differentiate. Develop your clear, compelling and unique value proposition and deliver against it with courage and discipline. There is a wedge that appears in all industry that forces businesses to choose between niche and cost. The spa industry is currently seeing this. There is room for both, but the business must choose what path to take and commit to it - a clear value proposition. Niche does not have to be expensive. If businesses try to do both - chase every shiny penny, it's a disaster. The more you try to be everything to everyone, the more you are nothing to anyone. Involve your staff - those that bring your brand to life every day.
Jan Freitag presented a review of the performance global and for the last few years based on data Smith Travel Research, Inc. collects - demand growth and RevPAR % change. Europe is hurting. Then he presented data for US hotels. Percent change for room supply, room demand and room revenue are at an all-time high. July 2012 saw the highest demand ever with 106 million rooms sold. He presented supply vs. demand, average daily rate vs. demand. What I found very interesting was what the data showed about discounting - results that I intuitively knew but now have data to back it up. It basically showed that a 10% discount in 2008 has only recovered by 5% in four years. The situation is even worse if inflation is considered. Then he presented data for US luxury hotels. Percent change for room demand and room revenue are at an all-time high. July 2012 saw the highest demand ever with 2.5 million rooms sold. He presented supply vs. demand, average daily rate vs. demand. Average daily rate was not as strong as expected. The effect of discounting was even worse - a 19.5% discount in 2008 has only recovered by 8.2% in four years not considering inflation. Finally, he presented the data collected for spas - total treatment revenue, total number of treatments, total treatment room hours available, total treatment room hours used, total salon revenue, total number of salon treatments, total salon station hours available, total salon station hours used and total retail revenue. These data create the following metrics: treatment room utilization rate, treatment rate per available treatment hour, salon station utilization rate, average salon rate and revenue per available salon hour. For luxury spas, the average treatment rate was at a $146 high in 2007 dropped $10 in 2009 where it has remained - suggesting that this is the new "normal." The data shows that small discounting continues. What Jan seemed surprised by was the treatment room utilization rate which was ~33% in 2007 and dropped to ~26% in 2009 where it has remained. (Note: I am not surprised. In my many visits to luxury spas, I would say that is an accurate indication of the empty treatment rooms I have seen.) Retail dollars per treatment still lags from $22 to $18. Jan requests that more spas provide their data so that the results can be more accurate. It costs nothing to participate and the data is kept confidential. To see the entire presentation, go to www.hotelnewsnow.com and click on “Hotel Data Presentations.”
Mel Kleiman reviewed what it takes to recruit, select and retain the three things you need to be good at to have great employees. Here are just some of my notes (honest!):
- The interviewing process is the #1 reason for long term success in having great employees.
- The key to retention is to hire bad people. They never leave. Do you know why your great people stay or leave? Have you ever hired a turkey? The good twin shows up for the interview, and the bad twin shows up at work? We are good at identifying people who can do the job. We are not good at identifying people who will do the job. It's a training problem only 13% of the time.
- All the turkeys have learned to dress up as eagles. They are good at interviewing because they have so much practice. Many make the mistake of saying, "I am looking for..." Of course, that's what the candidate will say they are good at. Gather information before giving information.
- Eagles don't always look like eagles. We determine if we like someone or not in 14 seconds. The same applies to our customers about our business.
- Your business should have great energy and be fun. 67% of customers (and employees) will go somewhere else of they think they will have more fun.
- The best place to look for great employees is where they are already working. 60% of working people would take a better job if it came along. Make a list of 10 reasons why a great employee should come to work for you. This also makes it necessary for the employer to live up to the list. The same goes for customers. Start the list by asking your best customers and employees why they come to your spa and why they work for you and what would it take to make them leave. Use a "stay" interview rather than and exit interview.
- The receptionist is the most important position in the business. They are the first and last person the guest sees. Most first contact is by phone, therefore the #1 skill the receptionist has to have is to be great on the phone. Therefore, your fist interview should be held on the phone.
- Never stop looking for your next employee even if there are no openings. It helps you stay in practice. You can preapprove great potential employees for the time when an opening does appear.
- Suggested ads: "Looking for frustrated Massage Therapists" - Frustrated workers are normally great. They are frustrated with management and they care. "Looking for another Leslie" (your best massage therapist) List what makes her great. "Are you the next Leslie?"
- Everything you do in the hiring process is a test. Make everyone fill out an application. Make it into a test. Give directions...You must fill out this form completely. Tell them to not say "see resume." 15% will leave blanks or say "see resume." They either can't or won't follow directions. Don't hire them. Ask dependability question in hiring. Other than being personally sick, what reason is there for not coming to work? What do you think is a fair attendance policy? What is your idea of being on time? Ask hard work questions. What's the hardest job you've ever had? What made it hard? How long did it last? Ask learning questions. What's the last thing you learned? How did you apply it? What would you like to learn? When you went to school, what was your dream? What have you done to make you dream come true? Ask them to tell you about their first job (not the last one). Ask them to tell you about the worst trouble they have ever been in.
- "A" players do not have to play for "B" teams. "A" players leave because the company puts up with "C" players.
- Most employers waste their resources trying to make the bottom better. Select the best people and you don't have to manage them. They manage you.
- Why don't you have the best? Because you don't know what it looks like. The picture on the box is the most important piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Make a list of what you are looking for in a new employee. Use CAPS:
C- Capacity: Can they physically and mentally do this job?
A - Attitude: Most of us hire for what they can do and fire for who they are. They must be reliable and dependable. Ask them - other than being personally sick, what other reason is there for you to miss work?
Other than being sick, how many days did you miss or were late in the last 6 months? What do you think is a fair attendance policy? What's the hardest job you ever had and how long did you last in it? What made it so hard? We can hire for great attitude. Make sure we train to deliver excellent customer service.
P - Personality: Your spa has a personality. The closer the applicant's personality is to your spa's personality, the better the fit. We manipulate, we don't motivate (that's internal). The difference between successful and unsuccessful. Successful people are willing to do the things unsuccessful people won't do.
S - Skill: They must have the skill.
Capacity and skill are the easiest things to identify.
- Make the first day for a new hire the best day. The top management/owner must spend the first hour with the new employee uninterrupted. Ask them why they think you chose them over all the other applicants. It reinforces good behavior. Tell them why you hired them and why you would fire them. Have them sign an agreement. Talk about being a team player, values, etc. Set expectations. Ask how they want you to manage them if they make a mistake. Ask what their favorite restaurant, entertainment, etc. is and use that for rewards later.
Amada Frasier is the head of spa inspections for Forbes (used to be Mobil). There have been some changes in 2012. There is no longer a print version of the star ratings. These ratings can now only be found on Startle.com. There are no longer ratings of 1, 2 or 3 - only 5, 4 or "recommended." In 2012 there were 30 5-star spas and 120 4-star spas. There are 150 standards written from a guest perspective. Her handout for this presentation, which lists some of the standards for spa reception and treatments, can be found here. They look for consistency. Consistency is key. Reputation depends on it. 5-star spas are inspected two times a year, and there is now a fee for rating.
Spas provide healing that feels good (vs. hospitals that don't). Spas focus on the physical but can differentiate more by including mind and spirit. But how does that work? Jeremy has studied positive psychology (what's right with people vs.
Freud’s what's wrong with people), relationships, engagement, etc. - how to help people flourish and thrive. Spas want to contribute to wellbeing. Happiness leads to better physical health, more creativity, better leaders, etc. Positive emotions are linked to health. Positive emotions open us up to possibilities. When smile muscles are activated, we recover from stress quicker. We don't need to rest our bodies (sedentary), but we need to rest our mind. Spas should be a place to get away from technology. Spas can be a place to meet people - more accessible, less treatment focused. This appeals to a younger demographic. There should be more fun in the spa (doesn't have to be gimmicky). Spas take themselves too seriously. Experiences that are highly charged are more intensely pleasurable. It bonds people who go through these experiences together. If it's a spa, it bonds people to the spa.
In The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, Barry Schwartz notes that the more choices you give someone, the more stress is generated to make a decision. Also the person is not happy with their choice because they always wonder if another choice would have been better. This supports the movement to smaller spa menus, customization and giving back expertise to therapists.
Doctors don't spend time with prevention. Spas can by offering coaching (not diagnosing). They can use motivational interviewing - asking questions to help their guests get motivated:
R - resist the urge to correct
U - understand
L - listen
E - empower
Sample questions: What do you want to want to do more? What could you do to make you do it more?
Ask implementation questions to clarify intention...When? Where? How are you going to do it? If - then questions. Pre-deciding makes it easier to comply with behaviors. Use baby steps to achieve big goals. The hardest part of change is stopping. Help guests develop good habits. Willpower is like a muscle - it gets stronger with exercise. It also gets depleted with use. Spas can be a place to relax and replenish willpower. Happiness and wellness were the trends of the last 10 years. Mindfulness and wellness will be the trends of the next 10 years. Make people feel good. Give people time and space for mindfulness. Nudge people to a healthier lifestyle.
This presentation, moderated by Dr. Bryan Williams, was kind of like speed dating. Each spa professional had six minutes to share their most innovative spa initiative implemented within the past year. I thought it worked very well. Short and to the point. Here are my take-aways:
Six Things Your Team Needs to be Inspired at Work
Dr. Bryan Williams, B. Williams Enterprise, LLC
Stop looking for ways to motive, look for ways to inspire.
1) Show compelling vision - 10 years from now, your legacy, awards
2) Clearly articulate your mission - be clear about what you do
3) Alignment between the vision and mission - How do your staff fit into the bigger picture?
4) Connect to a greater purpose.
5) Encourage staff to have both personal and profession goals - coach and follow up.
6) Uncompromising leadership - set high expectations and commit to them.
DESIGN Your Time with Your Team
Jean Kolb, Kohler Co.
Jean has a 15 minute pre shift line up before each shift. They are inspirational and informational and fun. They discuss the steps of gracious hospitality:
D - Demonstrate a Positive Attitude
E - Engage with the Heat
S - Seize Opportunities to Make a Difference
I - Inform and Inspire
G - Give and Be Your Best
N - Notice and Recognize Others
She says to make sure you include everyone on the team. Everyone has wisdom.
Creating Branding Promises
Jessica Timberlake, Spa at Laguna Cliffs Marriott
Branding is visually pleasing, makes you feel good and creates loyalty. Their brand promise was based on the core values of Comfort, Kindness and Intention. Client spending has gone up since the branding began early in the year ($23 f, $11 m). Associates feel good, clients are happy. They come back and spread the news.
Travis Anderson, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country
Associate empowerment is a key to success. Empowerment is a core value. Empowerment is having the green light or authority to take care of a guest. It boosts morale, creates a feeling of ownership and removes hesitancy. They have seen a rise in the engagement index question of 19% since the prior year. They give associates tools to be empowered. There is a plastic bin full of things they can use as well as suggestions for what to use for guests with birthdays, celebrations, recovery, etc. They train with scenarios and teach appropriate actions. They use a log to track what is used. Guest satisfaction scores have gone from 89.9% to 99.1% since this was implemented. Guest loyalty has increased 12% (6% locally).
Increasing Retail/Cutting Costs
Karen Watson, The Essex Resort and Spa
1) Staff involvement - Karen involved the staff to collectively work together, helped them understand and educated them on products.
2) Vendor relations - Education and training, special events, incentives and rewards, staff discounts.
3) Communications - Regular emails and memos to staff. E-blast and social media to guests. There is a retail sales board in the break room where all sales are posted. There are celebrations on performance - flowers, brownies, cookies.
4) Retail Space - Feature weekly staff picks, rotate products, if it's not selling it's out, use remote locations such as the golf course.
5) Guest interactions - Don't sell, educate. Don't assume.
6) Training and events.
Sales ~ doubled in one year.
New Technologies in the Medical Spa World
Anna Lempereur-Moine, Reservoir
Anna discussed the different types of lasers. She also noted that blue light therapy was extremely effective against acne and is not a medical treatment.
Local Initiatives, Getting Creative and Increasing Retail
Denise Haddaway, Orient Express Hotel
Denise explained that the Linden Spa is a botanical spa and uses garden fresh ingredients. They make most of what is used in their treatments themselves. They had a tub tea made in 2009 - 15,000 for @2.06 each. When they ran out, they couldn't locate the supplier. They found a way to make it themselves for $.46 each - a savings of $24,000.
Facebook Contests and Sweepstakes
Angela Cortright, Spa Gregorie's Day Spas & Salons
Angela had a goal of increasing Facebook fans so she made a contest with a prize of a spa date for 2. "Liking" the spa was required as well as name, email and city. She used a North Social App for Facebook and ran the contest for 45 days. She got 2,971 reads and 586 new likes. The cost was $30 plus the cost of the prize. She recommends posting 2-7 posts per week on Facebook.
Think Outside Your Business
Deborah Szekely, Rancho La Puerta Fitness Resort & Spa
Staff can make or break you. You are only as good as your weakest link.
1) Use 5 year eyes - will you like them in 5 years?
2) The spa sends the staff for a medical checkup and helps them reach their fitness goals (~400 staff members).
3) Your staff is your most valuable asset - see them as people.
4) The spa teaches all the staff's children how to swim.
5) The spa offers scholarships
6) Most staff have been with the spa for 30 years. Guests love seeing the same staff year after year.
Here are a few of the booths I visited at the expo and throughout the conference:
Salt of the Earth
SPApliance’s The Orb at Universal Companies
Harmonial Therapy, created by Dr. Elisabeth Rosse, is a system that uses a combination of biofeedback mediated Color, Sound and Aroma Therapy to alleviate stress and/or anxiety by relaxing and stimulating the brain. I tried this. I first answered a series of questions while relaxing in a comfortable, zero gravity chair. The program then created a presentation based on my answers that was delivered through specially designed goggles with headphones. (In a spa setting, it could be projected on a wall of a private treatment room.) I saw a series of primarily orange images (fire, mandalas, among others) while listening to rock music that I enjoyed. Afterwards, Dr. Rosse discussed the session with me. Orange indicated that I am a creative person and full of energy - fire, but I am not currently using enough of that fire in my life and have creativity that is not being used. After eliminating possible physical problems, she suggested that there could be psychological issues I could work on. The wavelengths the program presented to me could help to harmonize and stimulate the use of that fire and to open up. Ideally, there would be multiple sessions with each session providing both a mechanism for providing treatment as well as assessment to form the basis for future treatments. Harmonial is used in psychology practices, addiction centers, hospitals, sleep clinics, psychiatric practices, nursing homes, wellness centers and spas.
The Somme Institute's® patented Molecular Dispersion Technology (MDT5™), a compound of 5 highly engineered vitamins (A, B3, B5, C and E) attached to specific proteins, target skin cell receptors allowing vitamins to go deep within the skin in their active forms at high concentrations. Once in the skin, these MDT5™ active vitamins treat all skin types and most skin conditions. Over 10 years of clinical trials have shown that MDT5™:
•Significantly improves skin tone, texture, clarity and appearance
•Repairs years of sun damage
•Visibly lightens discoloration
•Diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
•Eliminates blemishes and prevent their occurrence
I personally use Somme Institute products. They are simple to use, and I like the results.
WaveMotion™ Bodywork Table from SpaEquip
This treatment table can rotate, rock and tilt to simulate the feeling of floating. The top rotates 360°, plus it inclines and tilts up to 7° in all any direction. With each massage motion, the table gently rocks the client. The tabletop locks into place for traditional massage services.
The ohm from Ohm Universe
The ohm is a hand held relaxation tool that helps you practice rhythmic breathing to leave the body relaxed, calm, and focused. Just breathe with the breath pattern of relaxation that is set on the ohm.
The 2013 ISPA Conference and Expo will be held at
Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on October 21 - 23, 2013.
unless marked * which are courtesy of ISPA
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