A MESSAGE FROM NICOLE K WHO WORKS IN THE DORCHESTER SPA, LONDON
My 5* training at OICB has helped me to adjust to working in a 5*spa in one of the world leading hotel spas. Without OICB I wouldn’t have been brave enough to approach The Dorchester or have the confidence to succeed.
I am writing a few words about my experiences and hope it’s helpful to anyone thinking about a career in the spa industry. 5* spas are very busy places so organisation is essential to success, along with 5* customer service!! Many of the 5* hotel spas have similar operation structure. Staff are core to the smooth running of the business so you will find a large special team of receptionists, reservation, waitresses, spa attendants, therapists and management.
The Reservation team deals with ongoing calls and requests, individual or group bookings, spa days, spa packages etc. Reception deals with day guests, hotel guests and members. They are the first point of contact on the guest arrival. Some of the spas don’t allow having a show around or treatments for walk-in people just for respect of their hotel guests’ privacy. When a guest arrives at reception, they confirm their name and booking time and the treatment type. Spa day cards are printed in advance to be presented on the guest arrival to confirm timings for their treatments and lunch.
Guests would then check-in and fill in the consultation card. Afterwards the receptionist walks the guest to the changing room, where they can leave all their belongings and change into robes, slippers and maybe paper knickers if required for treatment. Changing rooms are normally really well supplied, have lovely showers, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, hair dryers, hair straighteners, all necessary kits etc.
The receptionist also introduces the guest to the spa facilities and explains how to use the heat experience (swimming pool, vitality pool, steam, sauna, Jacuzzi). Guests are recommended to use them before their treatments so they should always allow enough time to do so.
In every spa there is a lovely place called the relaxation room, that’s where guest can relax before and after their treatments. Lovely designs, comfortable beds and quiet space make you feel relaxed straight away. You can sit or lie down, read or sleep, have some nuts, dried fruits, herbal teas or water with rose petals. This is also the place where guests wait for the therapist to arrive.
For you as a therapist it is important to be on time. When you work in the spa a really good time management is needed as you will only have 5 minutes turnover time in between each treatment to tidy up your room, set up for the next treatment and get to your next client on time. Within your treatment time you are expected to pick up your clients from the meeting point, do the verbal consultation, perform the treatment, give aftercare advice, recommend and sell products and walk them back to the relaxation room. I tell you at the beginning it is stressful.
So when you go to collect your client, you already have been given their consultation card by reception. Once you are back in your treatment room, in the first few minutes you do a verbal consultation to double check there are no contra-indications, to confirm the treatment, discuss their needs, and find out their preferences and expectations. It is good to provide them an unforgettable experience so you will often tailor make their treatments depending on their wishes.
In some spas guests have an option of just booking the specific time, for example they can book an hour and within that time discuss with therapist if they want to have for example either a back massage and mini facial or just back, face and scalp massage, or an hour Swedish massage etc. Beauty therapists will perform a variety of different treatments and the higher your qualification, the better the range of treatments you will do. Spas generally offer a lot of training in product knowledge and specialised treatments. If you show you are interested and keen to learn you will be selected for this training. However learn as many treatments as you can at college as this will enable you to do more quickly and perhaps progress up the ladder more quickly to a senior spa therapist? Most clients like massage treatments so learn as many different types as possible especially when OICB does a course in ‘Hot Stone Massage’ or ‘Reflexology’.
You will need confidence when speaking with your client as you will carry out a verbal consultation, then explain to the client how you want them to lie on the bed, you check if they are comfortable and warm, if the music is not too loud, if the light is not too bright, if they want bolsters etc. Basically ensuring they are 100% happy.
After you finish your treatment you leave them to relax for few minutes, offer some water and give an after-care advice. That’s your time to try to retail. In the spa every therapist have set sale targets which you employer would expect you to achieve on monthly basis. Normally it is about £ 600 depends on the treatments and the product prices. All the products are displayed and available to test and buy close to reception. Normally you have a recommendation card which you can give to your client so they can have a think about the product and decide whether they want it or not. That’s the time when reception team should take over and try to finish the sale when the guest come to check out but unfortunately it is not always happening. Sometimes you are expected to go and prepare the product for your guest in the reception after you finish their treatment but the thing is that system might be tricky because it is hard to ask the client at the end of the treatment if they are definitely going to buy it or not so you have to be careful not to come across as too pushy.
But at the end of the day there is always a war between therapist and receptionist who will get the product commission! It is hard to do all this within 55 minutes but don’t give up you will find your own way around it and your retail training at OICB will really help you! Just remember to listen to everything your teachers at OICB tell you as they really do know their stuff!
At the Dorchester Spa after every treatment we serve a special crystal platter called “Spa Finale “which has pure coconut water and healthy hazelnut biscuit. After that you will take your guest back to the relaxation room where they can continue their spa journey.
Next to reception there is always a small dining outlet it can be called as a Juice Bar or Spatisserie where light, healthy smoothies, salads, hot food, pastries or champagne is served. Guests can make themselves comfortable while in their robes and have a “little something’’ to eat and drink.
These days it is very important to exceed people’s expectation and make them feel special so they want to come back to your spa. There are a lot of competitors in the UK, lots of new hotels and spas are opening or getting refurbished so every team member should try to provide the best ever spa journey for every guest and in return they will be thankful, nice and relaxed and they will keep your business going and keep you employed! Its a brilliant industry to work in, people are happy and grateful for your efforts and care. Choose a spa that has a brilliant reputation like The Dorchester as everyone works so hard together to uphold the standards, which is just like OICB so it will feel like a home from home!
Be ambitious, it’s real fun J 🙂