Interest in health and wellness is at an all-time high in the early 2000s, and, according to the International Spa Association, the number of spa industry employees has grown from 151,000 in 1999 to 338,600 in 2011. While many personal and employee-related benefits come with working at a spa (think foot massage after a day on your feet!), there's also plenty of work to be done. Working the front desk is full of activity -- problems need solving, appointments need scheduling and clients need answers -- but at the end of your day, you'll be saying "ahhh!" to the wellness community.
Most spa receptionists have a certification in spa management or a degree in hospitality. While you can start at a boutique spa with little more than a pleasant personality and good communication skills, larger spas, including those at hotels, require previous customer service experience. According to Marlena McGrath, general manager at Sherman Oaks, California-based Burke Williams Day Spa, a Pride & Graciousness program teaching specific techniques and gestures to use toward guests and co-workers is given to all employees.
Spa receptionists are the gatekeepers in successfully obtaining and keeping a good clientele. A rude receptionist makes a client everything but relaxed and needs to realize that clients are forming an opinion about the spa based on the first interaction. A warm hello, friendly smile and approachable attitude are what spa-goers look for. According to Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, all it takes is one-tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger.
It's the receptionist's duty to communicate on behalf of the clients. "The receptionist helps the spa staff personalize a guest's experience and meet specific needs," says McGrath. That's why, when guests make an appointment, the receptionist likely asks if there is anything specific the therapist should know about. It's imperative that communication with clients be clear: appointments need to be accurate, paperwork updated and questions about the spa answered to client satisfaction.
Lead a guest to the locker room, where she'll find a comfy robe and slippers; show where the restrooms reside; and state specifically where a client should wait until called for the service. Offer water, juice or any snacks available to eat. Who can resist a jar full of fresh cucumber water and a little handful of tasty trail mix? It's part of the spa experience to be served, and it is a receptionist's duty to offer everything that is available.
Tidying and Topping Off
Depending on the size of the spa, the receptionist's duties may include cleaning up soiled robes and towels, replacing fresh items in lockers and organizing the beauty counter in the locker area. (That's right -- tidying up now extends beyond your own bathroom!) Food and drink items need to be replenished and waste baskets emptied.
Spa clients call for two reasons: to book an appointment and inquire about services and products. The receptionist needs to know what a salt rub or hot stone treatment entails, for example; which combined services make a generous birthday gift; and any current spa specials. In addition, it is crucial that the receptionist have a vast knowledge of the products sold at the spa.
- International Spa Association: Industry Stats
- APS: How Many Seconds to a First Impression?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Receptionist
- Marlena McGrath, General Manager; Burke Williams Day Spa; Sherman Oaks, California
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.