A Holistic Training Approach

A Holistic Training Approach 

Effective training is the foundation that solidifies and maintains brand integrity.  

Often when spa branding is mentioned, there is a natural focus on marketing. Marketing is invaluable to success when it clearly identifies the target market and then creates opportunities to attract the spa’s ideal guest. Equally important and at the other end of the spa success spectrum is training. Whether it focuses on company culture, service protocols or guest service, effective training ultimately determines the outcome of the guest’s face-to-face interaction with the brand.  

While marketing leads the guest to the spa, it is a consistently well-executed service that brings the guest back repeatedly. Effective training is the cornerstone to exceptional guest service experiences. Therefore, an exceptionally planned and well-delivered training program is essential for brand integrity and spa success. 

Research offers indisputable evidence on the positive impact of training on customers, staff, and the bottom line. A Deloitte article entitled The New Organization states that ‘learning opportunities are among the largest drivers of employee engagement and strong workplace culture’ and results in a 37% increase in productivity. A Gallup research showed that a “highly engaged workforce would outperform those with low engagement levels by 21% in productivity and 22% in profitability.” 

Nevertheless, often spas do not design or budget sufficiently for training. The approach to training feels more like a la carte than a strategic and well-developed holistic program. In this article, we will examine four pillars to integrate a holistic training model. The emphasis is on service protocols education, but the template can be used for all types of training. 

The Four Pillars of Holistic Training: 

Holistic training is a plan that encompasses the why, where, who, and when. 

“Effective training is the foundation that solidifies and maintains brand integrity.”

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Pillar 1: The Plan 

The plan clarifies the reason or the ‘why’ for training. It answers the questions, ‘What is the purpose of the training? and ‘What is the problem you are trying to solve? ‘Below are four typical reasons to plan training:  

  • To introduce an innovation  
  • To maintain important standards  
  • To re-engage company culture 
  • To refresh technical skills 

Knowing your why is the necessary starting point for all training. As Stephen Covey from the ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ states, ‘start with the end in mind.’ In other words, think not only about why you would like to train (introduce a hot new industry, teach new COVID standards, or refresh technical skills due to guest feedback), but also what goals you would like to achieve with the training (e.g., specific revenue amount). Next, consider which metrics (rebooking, increase in average ticket, etc.) you will use to measure the success of these goals. 

Pillar 2: The Platform 

The platform determines the method of delivery, i.e., the where. It answers the question, ‘What learning management platform or live venue can be used for training?’ 

  • Learning management system platform (LMS) 
  • Live Learning 
  • Blended learning (virtual and live) 

 Using a learning management system for online training is one fundamental way to create cost savings and consistency in today’s environment. There are many platforms on the market, so it will take some time and research to determine a good fit for your training needs. 

You will also have to decide how the service provider will access this platform. Will there be a laptop at the location set aside for this? Will the service provider be able to access it on their mobile devices? How and when will you schedule training sessions? On slow days? Or downtime? How do you compensate for online training?  

Live learning for hands-on services is a must for a high-touch industry. Service providers need to see and touch to grasp a new skillfully. Additionally, live learning, when planned well, can be a team-building activity. Many service providers work in isolation. They work one-on-one with guests behind closed doors and have little time to interact with their counterparts. Cultivating a community is one of the additional benefits of live training.  

A blended training offers the best of both worlds. There is usually a theory portion as well. In a blended scenario, the theory can be completed online. Participants can submit their questions and be evaluated on comprehension before the live training. This prior involvement stokes engagement in the live training and typically enhances the results. 

Pillar 3: The Participants 

This pillar clearly speaks to those who will participate in the training. It answers the question, ‘Who do I need to engage in this training?’  

  • Maximize engagement by focusing on learning styles 
  • Include leaders from all departments 

Many service providers are highly kinesthetic learners. Therefore, they need to actively participate in smaller hands-on training that is not lecture heavy. This is where a blended format is beneficial. The theory necessary for the training can be completed online, maximizing the hands-on training in the live session.  

Finally, one of the most significant missed opportunities is that service trainings are often exclusively attended by service providers. Providers are the last person to inform the guest about the service. The guest will interact with the front desk team, spa attendants, and sometimes even management before their service. These associates’ personal understanding and experience with the treatment is critical. Including them is also a fun way for them to connect and learn about their co-workers, while getting to know the mechanics of the service. 

Pillar 4: The Progress 

This pillar focuses on when to integrate the service. It answers the question, ‘When do I need to launch the service, and when is it time to refresh or update the provider’s skill set for this training?’  

  • Training integration (post-training practice) 
  • Refresher course 

Training integration and refresher courses are two training approaches that are pivotal to service success but are often overlooked. A post-training period is recommended for training integration. After the hands-on session, additional questions often come up, along with the need for quick reminders on specific techniques. 

Pre, live, and post-training may sound like a lot, but it is the foundation of instructional design. With learning models like Bloom’s Taxonomy, there is a presentation and comprehension of knowledge (recommended in the pre, online portion) followed by application and analysis (perfect for the live hands-on portion). It is at this point that most trainings end. What is missing is the synthesis and evaluation. A virtual post-training session and/or an evaluation component with a spa lead are both ways to check for proficient integration of the training.  

Refresher courses are often a response to guest complaints. Spas, however, can be proactive and work to limit negative guest feedback with periodic refresher courses. When refresher courses are a part of a training program, service providers are less likely to view it as punitive. 

Understandably, a training program requires an investment in time. Time is money. Nevertheless, investing in excellence is more cost-effective than repairing the damage of an unsatisfied guest.  

Training trumps a perfectly written service description, perfectly manicured brand image, competitive pricing, and more. A guest is more likely to overlook gaps in these areas if their experience is superlative.