Career Outlook: Spa Managers

If it's too difficult to settle for one location, cruise ship work is also an option with great benefits. Opportunities are available not only in the wide variety of lcoations but also in a wide variety of types of spas. Managers can choose their profession from medical, beauty based or wellness spas and from day or destination spas to name a few. Potential earnings of £25,000 - £30,000 in the UK make the job even more tempting.

Routes into spa management

Various routes are available into spa management, and while university courses offer a direct route, previously management had traditionally come from two directions, each often bringing to the table their own problems. The multitude of various training programmes available in different disciplines are able to alleviate some of these issues.

Route 1 - Business 'Managers'

In many cases management comprised of 'managers' with fantastic management ability but little understanding of the spa industry. With this comes a problem. A spa no matter what its specific focus i.e. medical or wellness, requires a holistic approach, which needs to extend out of the treatment room into the staff room. Therapist wellness becomes as important as client wellness as the two are intrinsically linked. Managers need to understand this principle. Furthermore they need some understanding of the treatments on offer so that they can ensure they are marketed ethicallhy and know what's involved for therapists and therefore ensure that bookings are managed to minimise therapist 'burn out'.

It is highly recommended for managers of this type to undergo some treatment training. This has the benefit of making their role multifunctional as they can stand in for absent therapists should the need arise, as well as perform staff training and treatment design. Additionally it has been shown that in the spa environment the importance of team is paramount, which is enhanced by the manager having treatment capabilities.

Training courses undertaken need to comply with the legal requirements in that country to ensure that the manager is covered by insurance. It is recommended that managers contact CIDESCO, ITEC, or their local college for further information and suitable courses. Massage and facial treatments at the very least should be learnt as they open the gateway to a large variation of treatments including scrubs and wraps, and are among the most common treatments requested. Manicures and pedicures are also valuable treatments for managers to have under their belts.

Route 2 - working your way up

The second way spa managers have traditionally gained their titles is to work their way up from therapist to head therapist, then assistant manager to spa manager etc. This route to spa management overcomes the aforementioned difficulties but brings a whole set of new ones to the table; the lack of management experience/training. This can cause some problems in their ability to perform some of the duties required of a spa manager such as marketing, accounting, scheduling and general operations management. In such cases there are specific short courses that are available that can be completed alongside work. Managers should contact their local college or look for distance learning courses available.

Spa management training recommendations

Ideally spa organisations need to recognise the importance of proper spa management training and get behind their employees when it comes to expenses and work schedules. Leaving it up to the individual to seek out further training is not sufficient as it places the onus on the individual to recognise their own short comings as managers, which is often difficult to be objective about. Additionally spa organisations should be building links with existing training institutes to form bonds and ensure that all training is industry specific. Courses such as the spa management courses that are offered by the University of Derby for instance which include a compulsory work experience component would be well served by connections with spa organisations and as such is mutually beneficial.

For those just starting out in the industry who aspire to spa management, courses such as those offered at the University of Derby are a good option and can be completed full time or on a part-time basis alongside work. These courses cover the perfect blend of management skills and essential spa knowledge; with modules such as human biological sciences, managing people, financial decision making, international spa maintenance and treatments, international perspectives of spa treatment, risk management, management and business strategy, managing cultural diversity, international spa design, hydrotherapy, advanced consumer behaviour and international health tourism. The key with such courses however, is to gain as much work experience as possible, so it is advised that those interested undertake any additional optional work placements to further enhance their employability.

All these training recommendations are intended to help spa managers to overcome the multitude of challenges they face in today's market and meet employers' expectations/requirements. This includes the sensitive management of cultural diversity of staff, clients and the treatment menu, striking an appropriate balance between quality, quantity and cost and promoting health and wellbeing in its truest form, i,e, looking at what is best for client, staff, community and planet. Furthermore, having to carry all the stressful duties of a manager in a relaxed, calm and confident manner is no mean feat.

In addition to the above training, experience and personal attributes, companies are looking for motivated, enthusiastic and passionate candidates who are interested in keeping up to date with the ever evolving industry trends and research so that they can ensure that their spa menu is always current and appealing to the market demands without being faddy or gimmicky. It is also essential that spa managers stay current in health and safety legislation as well as other government legislation affecting the work place.

To excel spa managers need to understand the education element of spas. This is twofold; firstly for the managers themselves to ensure their skills are continually improved so they are providing the best quality of service. Secondly and more importantly the education of clients, to improve their health and wellbeing to ensure that any changes to lifestyle recommended at the spa will stay with the client once they leave.

Outlook for spa managers

The job outlook for spa managers looks set to improve as companies increasingly appreciate the value of a good spa manager. Spa management is also set to become a more serious profession as countries such as Germany and Canada look at including spa therapies into their healthcare system. Preventative rather than curative attitude trends towards health are emerging in direct correlation to the rise of interest in holistic health, so there has never been a better time to choose spa management as a career.


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