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Following are the interview transcripts from the article, "Choosing the Right Spa Software," by Cathy Christensen, that appeared in the March 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Barbara Stirewalt, spa director, The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York
Mohonk reviewed a large number of choices and brought it down to finalists (three) and issued a request for a proposal, which is normal for significant purchases. We had complicated criteria, greater than being spa software. We are part of a hotel, so we needed to see if the software could support rooms management or interface properly with that type of a system, because you want you guest to have a seamless experience. We had other things in the resort that had to be considered to be supported by the software. Those criteria made it complex. In the end, when I talked to our IT people about it, he said that we wanted to make sure that the accurate booking process could be easy for the customer, easy for us to train our staff to do, and that equates to good service. Customers want the process of booking, arriving, transacting to be easy, quick and efficient. I know that we are growing toward online bookings, but spas still have a personal touch to it. I still want it to be somewhat efficient. That process of booking a spa appointment is intuitive for the staff and flows well for the customer. We have the answers for our customers right at our fingertips. It boiled down to how the software could help us to serve our customer. That’s the history of it.
What features does a busy spa need to look for when choosing a software? It’s something that needs to be taken to heart. First of all, customer care of the spa. One of the things that is so fantastic about the industry is that successful spa product lines are successful because of the customer care they give their spas. They fail if they don’t do what they need to do as customer care people. They have to provide great service, training, follow up and one-on-one account management. IT for spas need to learn from them. My fear in information technology is a culture that sells something to you and waits for you to call when you have problems, and we are making those calls when we are crashing. Any spa should look for a company with a proven and proactive service philosophy. Talk to the other spas they work with about this and find out how they work when you aren’t crashing because it is a tool just like everything else.
Innovation: Spas are unique and are creative. Service menus and the need to be creative is inherent to us. We want to do packages, do add-ons, please customers. We are looking for a software with a flexibility factor. They need to get to know us to know you as a customer and know how you operate to build a backbone of service.
Reporting. Spa directors wear a lot of hats and one is the business manager, and one of them is to project the future and we all need budgets. Every day, we seek to review our business a different way. If you can create a question, I need a report to answer it. Part of it is marketing. Reports help us determine those things. Spa software that is worth gold will give the manager dynamic reporting to help them make their business decisions.