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In the second part of our three-part series on spa management training, we investigate the education options for people already in work and ask whether employers are doing enough to develop staff from within

some of the full-time spa management degree and diploma courses available. But to really tackle the problem – especially in rapidly emerging markets – the spa industry can’t rely solely on graduate recruits. It also needs to pro- vide training and development opportunities for practitioners wishing to climb the ranks and managers who are keen to strengthen their skill sets, as well as professionals moving into the industry from other sectors. T e advantage of promoting therapists to


management positions is that they inher- ently understand the caring nature and the challenges of the profession. “In general, we prefer to recruit someone with a therapy background and teach them the business,” says Anna Bjurstam, managing partner of Swedish spa consultancy and man- agement company Raison d’Etre. T e disadvantage is that ther-

apists don’t usually have any business education or experience.

“A spa is a business unit and needs to be managed that way,” says Vanessa Main, director of spa operations for Hilton in the Asia-Pacifi c (see sb11/3 p28).

“T ere are people in the industry who may be passionate, but they don’t understand business principles… and if we put them in a management role without the skills they need, we’re setting them up to fail.” Another common species of spa man-

ager, is the manager who moves into spa from another area of hospitality. And while these individuals generally have a good grasp of business principles, they’re less familiar with the unique challenges of spas. “In many

ne of the biggest challenges facing our industry is a short- fall of quality spa managers. T e fi rst feature of this series (see sb12/2 p38) looked at

hotels, spa directors come from food and beverage or front of house, and have abso- lutely no clue what a spa is all about,” says Raoul Andrews Sudre, founder of Aspen Spa Management and the International Hotel Spa Academy (IHSA), a training company set up to help countries such as Morocco and Nica- ragua to meet wellness tourism targets. In the past, these groups have been leſt to

muddle along, or at best received some des- ultory training on the job. Yet as the industry has developed, so too has need for managers who are properly trained in both business and spa-specifi c skills. As a result, a range of educational institutions, private training providers and even employers are off ering part-time training options aimed at those already in work. But just how eff ective are these courses at plugging the skills gap?

As the industry has developed, so too has the need for

managers who are properly trained in both business and spa-specific skills


For those wishing to move into spa man- agement, or to further advance their career, there are a growing number of open-to-enrol short courses. T ese are provided by private training providers, such as the UK’s Carlton Institute – which off ers half-day to three-day modules on a range of management topics – or consultants, such as Wynne Business in the US, which off ers an annual three-day intensive course in management training. Raison d’Etre is another consultancy that has moved into this arena, off ering two spa

60 Read Spa Business online / digital

management training pro- grammes a year for up to 20 people – one aimed at the Swedish market, and one open to international appli- cants. T e course, which has recently been redesigned with an online element, includes three months of part-time study online, through webinars and lec- tures, before a fi nal three-day, face-to-face module. What makes the pro-

gramme more effective than some of the other short courses available, says Bjurstam, is that students are required to apply what they’ve learned in their own business (or intern- ship) and report back. And while there’s a strong focus on hard busi- ness skills, it’s very much tailored to the target audience. “T e way business is taught in universities is beyond the grasp of most people with a therapy background,” says Bjurstam. “So we try to help them understand KPIs, fi nance and mar-

keting in a fun way that doesn’t make them feel stupid… then at the end of the course they write both a human capital manage- ment plan, which is a strategy for leading staff , and a business plan [to take away].”


In recent years, a number of universities have also developed more in-depth spa man- agement courses which are aimed at people in the middle of their career. One of the most highly respected of these, certainly in the US, is the certifi cate in spa

SPA BUSINESS 3 2012 ©Cybertrek 2012


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