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Dealing With The Uninitiated

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Tackling the gaucherie of spa novitiates

Based on inputs from Dr. Rajesh Srinivas, CEO, Mint Spas

Spas are still on their way to becoming popular in India and for most, first time spa goers are either uniformed or unsure of what spa etiquette is. The situations can range from being mildly embarrassing to downright obscene, but each needs to be handled with a generous dose of tact and diplomacy. Here’s what spa managers and therapists can expect from newbie spa customers.

While most regular spa patrons know what a spa is (solus per aqua – Latin for ‘healing through water’), there still are the ignorant many who think it stands for S_x Provided when Asked. Many expect or hope massage treatments to close with a ‘happy ending’. To clear the misconception, explain to them that spas are centres of healing where people go to enhance their health and experience relaxation and nothing else. You may want to gently remind them to not be fooled by the demure appearance of therapists as they could be as skilled in various martial arts as they are in massage techniques.

Keeping Time

Spas are places where the wheels of time move slower, but that is no excuse for clients to turn up late for an appointment. Make sure you inform them while confirming their appointments that guests are expected to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to their appointment time. Explain to them that they will need those extra minutes to settle down before their spa procedure begins and for the therapist to outfit them with the right size of slippers and bath robe. Any delay will be their loss.

Dress Code

Unsure of how to dress for a spa, you may encounter clients attired for a night on the town. Advise them to leave their fancy clothes expensive baubles behind and that your spa would not be responsible for any loss. If you have a dress policy, state it upfront – let your customers know whether you prefer them to be completely nude during treatments or minimally attired.

Hands Off

Most spas have a clear “No-touch” policy, but customers in the midst of a pleasurable experience, often tend to forget this little rule. To avoid ambiguity, firmly establish boundaries and state that any attempt to cross them will not be tolerated. Penalty may include being thrown out, reported to the police or a lifetime ban.

Silence Please

Visitors may come to a spa to escape their hectic lives but often find it difficult to cut themselves off completely. Get clients to switch off their mobile phones and to lower their voices not only during treatments but while relaxing in other areas of the spa.

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Remind them that spas are created as oases of silence to help them settle into a calm and healing space.

Question Away

Encourage your clients to ask questions – what the therapy is about, what the expected benefits are, what products are being used. That’s the best way to sort out all misunderstandings and false assumptions. Remind them that therapists are trained to customise treatments to a certain extent and they are welcome to mention where they would like less pressure or more. Don’t let them get carried away though or you might just end up feeling like a guest on a chat show.

Tummy Troubles

Many spa therapists have sometime or the other been subjected to a flatulent client. Unfortunately there’s not much you can do other than grin and bear it. You can advise him/her to come for the next appointment on an empty stomach – a prerequisite for a more comfortable and beneficial experience.

Feedback Time

Encourage your customers to give you detailed feedback about their experience at the spa – whether it’s volume of the music, the pressure in the therapy, the room temperature or even the therapists demeanour. While some will give you relevant, useful feedback, others may be without substance or tinged with prejudice. Even if you plan to relegate those suggestions to the

dustbin, you must accept it with a genuine, interested smile.

Collecting Tips

It is customary to tip but spa newcomers may not be aware of that. How much they tip depends on your clients’ experience and generosity. The general norm is a 10% to 20% for a perfect 10 therapy. Having a clearly labelled tip jar might just give them the hint.

With this ready reckoner at your finger tips, you should be able to deal with any situation an uninitiated spa client throws at you.


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