On My Mind - I Wish They Wanted to Know
Know: To possess knowledge, understanding, or information.
This whirlpool looks inviting, don't you think? I did. I had lots of time to enjoy the wet area of this 6-month-old spa before my first appointment. I exchanged my clothes for a robe and sandals and wandered into the wet area. I started with 10 minutes in the sauna. When I had just started to sweat, I left to go into the steam room. I opened the door and stepped over the threshold. My foot landed in an inch of standing water. I immediately pulled my foot back out and shut the door. "Something must be broken in there," I said to myself. Thoughts of masses of bacteria colonies growing in that hot, wet environment filled my head. I hurried over to the shower to soap off. As I left the shower, the spa director walked through the area. "There seems to be something wrong with the steam room," I said to her. "There is standing water in it." "Oh," she casually replied as she left, "That's the way it was built." Hmmmm. Silent replies rattled off in my head. Whoever built the steam room should never be allowed to build another one. They clearly didn't know what they were doing. If I were the spa owner, I would have made the builder fix it before opening the spa. I can't believe the spa has operated with it that way for over 6 months without fixing it. I can't
that they let their guests use it that way...and on and on...I was annoyed at the lack of concern from the spa director. "Take a deep breath and shake of off," I thought. I walked over to that inviting whirlpool, hung my robe on a hook on the wall and stepped in. I settled in with my back against the wall, looking towards the sauna...and the whirlpool overflow drain. This is what I saw:
I was completely grossed out. I immediately got out and scrubbed my body with soap in the hot shower for a long time. I left the wet area and waited for my appointment in the lounge. Even though the therapist provided a very nice treatment, I didn't enjoy it. The spa had lost my trust. What else did they not clean or maintain? I didn't volunteer to tell the spa director about the whirlpool, even though she had complete control over that situation and couldn't blame the filth on the builder. Why bother? Her lack of concern about the steam room said everything. She simply didn't care about or know that it was her job to ensure the safety of the spa's guests. Not surprisingly, she didn't ask me for feedback before I left.
I wish she was the only one who hasn't asked me for feedback. Sadly, of the hundreds of spas that I have been to, the vast majority don't ask - I'd guess over 95%. I wish they wanted to know. Knowledge is power. If they don't ask, they can't know what their guests know. If they don't know what their guests know, they can't take action to fix the problems that the Guests have encountered. Are they afraid to know the truth? Do they not want to know? Do they simply not care? Do they believe the only problem is their Guest? By the way, "they" refers to every member of a spa's staff and management as well as owners - from a privately owned day spa to the massive corporately owned hotel, resort and destination spas and from unrated spas to 5-star spas.
While I wish they wanted to know, I've given some thought to why they seem to lack even an iota of
curiosity. Of course, they could be completely clueless. However, I think it is more likely that they may be curious but let emotions get in the way. I figure it comes down to one or more of the following:
- Fear (a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat)
- Embarrassment (intense emotional discomfort with oneself, experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others)
- Shame (an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes that he or she has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation)
- Denial (a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept, rejects it and insists that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence that it is)
- Indifference (a lack of interest or concern)
- Disdain (to think unworthy of notice, response, etc.; consider beneath oneself; to look upon or treat with contempt; despise; scorn)
They don't ask because they don't want to feel these emotions. It could also be that if they ask, they would be expected to take action, and they would rather not have that obligation.
Asking guests for feedback with sincerity, listening to the answers with genuine interest, taking quick action to improve and checking that the actions actually fixed the problems are the keys to a spa's ongoing success. In providing feedback, the spa's guests are offering to help the spa get better. The spa should be grateful for their guest's help.
Using guest feedback effectively turns staff fear into confidence,
into pride, shame into dignity, denial into acknowledgement, indifference into concern and disdain into appreciation.
The following is an abbreviated list of feedback I would have gladly shared privately if they had only asked with the hope that they could make it better for the next guest. Instead, I am sharing it publicly:
- Late pickup with no warning leaving me with that "lost" feeling for up to 20 minutes
- Short services: 50-minute services that lasted 40 minutes, 80-minute services that lasted 65 minutes, 90-minute services that lasted 80, etc.
- Mold growing on mud for self-application
- Towels on the locker room floor
- Stained robes
- Torn towels
- Glasses and dishes not removed from lounges over a span of up to 2 hours
- Aging facilities - cracked tiles in wet areas, non-functioning saunas and steam rooms, black mildew in grout between tiles
- Notification that ingredients/products were not available for my service after I was already on the treatment table
- Hearing the esthetician flip through an instruction manual during a facial
- Noisy staff
- Noisy guests
- Noise from management's high heels on hardwood and tile floors
- Hair in shower drains (I've seen this in every type of spa including a surprisingly large number of 4- and 5-star spas - even when the spa is not busy)
Poor housekeeping (ditto).
my thoughts about the spa industry's aversion to guest feedback. Thanks for "listening." I am interested in
your opinion. Share it with me at jar@DiscoverSpas.com or post it on facebook.
On My Mind Articles
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