Prompted by the growth of spas worldwide, the Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) has prioritized spa management education as a crucial component of spa industry success. Following the 2012 GSWS in Aspen, where the research study Spa Management Workforce & Education: Addressing Market Gaps was presented, the Spa Management Education Committee sanctioned a committee of spa industry leaders to respond to the research study’s challenges of enticing more people to join the ranks of spa management, and providing information regarding spa career and education trends.
Spa management is a very challenging career, yet there are limited opportunities to receive a formal education in spa management. “The spa industry does not have a well-defined educational or career pathway,” according to GSWS Board Member Anna Bjurstam, VP Spas & Wellness Six Senses/owner Raison d’Etre Bjurstam. “There are few spa specific college level courses and training programs to train people in the spa business.” There are an approximately 130,000 to 180,000 spa managers and directors currently working in spa businesses around the world. An estimated 4,000 students worldwide currently enrolled in spa management related degree programs.
The committee’s first task was to gather information from spa managers, consultants, and owners by creating a survey on career paths,” said career committee co-chair Lori Hutchinson, founder of global recruiting firm Hutchinson Consulting, along with Jeremy McCarthy, director of Global Spa Development and Operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. There were 550 spa management and consulting professionals who participated in the study. The research revealed important data about career satisfaction, the importance of mentoring, and trends in spa management education.” “The study reinforces that the spa industry is a great industry to work in, that spa managers love their jobs and that they stay in the industry,” said McCarthy.
Results from the Spa Management Career Trends Survey were presented by Hutchinson at the 2013 GSWS in India in September 2013. Hutchinson submitted “You Would Love A Spa Career” in the GSWS Spa and Wellness Infographic Competition. Designed by Jason Parmer of Dapper Design, the submission won first place out of 130 entries to take home the $2,500 prize. Accepting on behalf of Parmer and the committee in India, Hutchinson said: “The infographic was really a collaboration, as are so many things in the world of spa.”
The infographic relayed the following information about a career in the spa industry:
- Exotic Workplace and Co-workers—Count on the spa industry for an international career and a very diversified workforce. Spa directors work in exotic locations all over the world.
- Spa Managers Love their Job—86% are extremely satisfied with their jobs Learning from the Best – 65% say they have a spa mentor. 94% say that having a mentor is important.
- Lots of Room for Career Growth—64% of spa leaders started as spa receptionists. 58% of spa leaders have worked as Therapists or Technicians. 66% say their career growth has been fast.
- Work with Your Best Friend—80% said that they would recommend a career in spa management to their best friend.
In 2014, the Spa Management Education Committee has plans to promote spa management and hands-on positions as a viable career, further define career options and develop mentorship and internship opportunities. “It is now time to take the next steps to making our managers masters at their trade and attracting more people to our wonderful spa industry,” says Hutchinson.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what the education committee has accomplished,” said Susie Ellis, Chairman and CEO of the GSWS. “Thanks to the research and surveys that have been done so far, we are building knowledge about spa management education that can spark new and innovative ideas on how we might be able to fill the gaps and also bring a great career opportunity to light. The committee’s work is definitely bearing fruit.”