Spa businesses are facing a fundamental challenge in their management workforce – they are simply not able to find enough people with the right skills to fill management-level positions.” This was the key message from a 2012 study by SRI International, Spa Management Workforce & Education: Addressing the Market Gaps (see SB12/4 p56) which was commissioned by the Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS). It also found that 95 per cent of spa leaders face problems in hiring spa managers/directors with the right combination of qualifications and experience, with 52 per cent expecting these problems to remain or worsen over the next decade.
The challenges are threefold:
1) Current/future spa managers do not have the right skill sets and they lack clear career paths
2) Education and training providers are not meeting industry needs
3) Spa businesses don’t provide sufficient training and development for managers
With this in mind, GSWS board member Anna Bjurstam has formed two groups consisting of industry leaders, operators and educational institutes to overcome these challenges.
The Spa Management Advisory Committee
The spa industry needs talented leadership. With a goal of enticing service and hospitality orientated individuals to join the worldwide spa, the Spa Management Advisory Committee is focusing on three areas – internships, mentorships and career paths.
The committee, which represents some of the most well-known leaders in the worldwide spa industry, is being co-chaired by Jeremy McCarthy (see p56), director of global spa development and operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts; and Lori Hutchinson, founder of spa and hospitality recruiting firm Hutchinson Consulting. Hutchinson says: “If we inform people of all of the wonderful benefits of working in the spa industry and provide tools to support them along the way, it will be an easier decision for students and other hospitality professionals to take the spa management career path.”
- Research, inform and create global-wide partnerships between large and small spa businesses (hotel/resort/destination/day/corporate) and appropriate vehicles (associations and/or companies) to
facilitate internships for thousands of students who desire and need practical training after gaining a degree or finishing courses in spa management
- Gain commitment from at least 20 large and small spa company leaders that they and their companies will participate in the internship programme
- Start a global spa manager/director job shadowing programme to help entice people into a profession in the spa management world
- Identify a successful mentorship programme in another service-orientated industry and use their best practices as a benchmark. Start with a pilot programme. Create a worldwide mentor programme between spa managers, directors and executives that works easily on an informal basis. Recruit mentor volunteers
- Gain commitment from at least 20 large and small spa company leaders that they and their companies will actively participate in the mentorship programme
Career path goals:
- Create and provide easily accessible information on realistic career paths, experience details and leadership qualities required for each position in all types of spas and spa related businesses based on a survey completed by thousands of participants
- Summarise and communicate this information to the global spa world. Use this information for a PR campaign to entice hospitality oriented professionals
- Provide expert advice on ways to develop the skill sets that the spa industry needs from its leadership
- Explore ways to create career growth opportunities beyond the spa director level. Where does one go next?
After the committee has gathered the survey information and put together details for the internship and mentorship programmes, in time for the 2013 GSWS in October, it hopes to kick start an advertising campaign via social media sites in order to build awareness of the virtues of a spa management career.
As well as McCarthy and Hutchinson, the following industry figures are working on the committee to meet objectives and create results: Elena Bogacheva (SWIC), Angela Cortright (Spa Gregorie’s), Aldina Duarte Ramos (Sofitel), Elaine Fenard (Spa Strategy), Geeta Morar (SVA Spas & Salons), Kim Matheson Shedrick (Natural Resources Spa Consulting) and Deborah Smith (Smith Club & Spa Specialists).
Spa Management Certification Task Force
The Spa Management Certification Task Force, led by Lynne McNees – the president of the International Spa Association (ISPA) – has been charged with defining the role of, and skills necessary for, spa managers/directors with the aim of creating a certification programme for spa managers and directors which can be applied worldwide. It’s building on an existing ISPA initiative which had the same goal and around 50 leading, international spa professionals are contributing their time and knowledge to lay the foundation of the benchmark.
- To create a foundation for a certification programme geared towards spa professionals who have significant work experience and want to advance in their careers
- To lay the framework for a global designation that has significant meaning to both individuals and the spa industry
“The first step has been refining and adding to a body of knowledge, originally developed by ISPA, which will serve as an overview of all things seasoned spa directors must know in order to operate at a high level in the industry,” says McNees. “The group is continuing to work through the body of knowledge to finalise recommendations and create a comprehensive foundation for the certification programme.” The aim is to complete the body of knowledge in May and then create a programme framework. After that, the next step will be to identify a plan of action for creating the competencies upon which the certification programme should be based.
Aside from McNees, individuals contributing to the initiative include: Peter Anderson (Anderson & Associates), Anna Bjurstam (Raison d’Etre and Six Senses), Elena Bogacheva (SWIC), Rekha Chaudhari (JCKRC Spa Destination), Jean-Guy de Gabriac (Tip Touch Acadamie), Samantha Foster (Destination Spa Management), Su Gibson (University of Houston), John Korpi (SpaQuest International), Ginger McLean (Walt Disney Company), Dr Mary Tabacchi (Cornell University), Deborah Waldvogel (Sedona Resorts) and Dr Mary Wisnom (Lutgert College of Business).
Contributions ARE welcome!
“The success of these initiatives relies on the contribution of our group volunteers – those passionate enough to give up their free time to help grow the industry,” says Bjurstam. “While the groups have been formed, there’s still place to contribute and we welcome new members depending on where each group is in its development.
“I’m honoured and overwhelmed by the amazing response we’ve received – there’s no doubt that this subject engages the whole industry. Many said this was an impossible task to take on, yet the small steps we have already made have proven otherwise… although there’s still much work to be done.”