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What I Discovered Teaching Spa Retail in China

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China is a spa and wellness boom town. According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) report, in 2016 China drove the biggest recent gains in wellness tourism revenues (300%+).

I recently returned from Shanghai, China to deliver my Increasing Your Retail Selling program to a spa team at a renowned Five-Star hotel.  Despite the fine reputation of this award-winning property, retail selling presented a challenge for their spa therapists as it does for most upscale hotel and resort organizations.

The art of selling is largely dependent upon a therapist’s ability to engage with their customer. Most spa therapists are introverts, engagement is not their strong suit. Because spas traditionally provide only product training, retail revenues are usually disappointing.

Sales engagement is a separate training. When it is treated as such, positive results are immediate and gratifying. Treatment and product recommendations become an organic extension of service.

I knew that most of the therapists at this hotel didn’t speak English and that I would be working with a translator. That did not present a problem as verbal language is only one element of communication. I was also aware that they might have “cultural introversion.” Many service providers growing up in Asia have been acculturated to conduct which is more inward and undemonstrative.

Compare the following chart:

What I was not aware of was that the spa schools in China actually train their therapists to limit interaction with the guest. Because engagement is the under-pinning of selling, this discovery led to a modification of my program. To enhance their natural skills as introverts I first needed to shift their mindset. But it was not difficult.

Therapists are a special group of people. At their core, they are all healers who want to remove pain and help their guest in any way possible.

I explained (via translator) that they could not deliver their best service if they knew nothing about their guest. All understood and agreed. The intake form process was the first step. Although it was given to the guest by the receptionist it was important that the person delivering the treatment establish the connection.

All of the therapists spoke minimal English so they were given simple words of discovery; what where when andwhy. Once they learned those things they would know who they providing service to and how to maximize the experience with the right treatments and home-care.

Applying this process turned an emotional key. As the therapists became more fluid with their conversation they gained more confidence. This showed during every touchpoint of the guest’s journey.

Because of our training success we decided to offer Increasing Your Retail Selling in Mandarin as well as English. Our goal is to improve the guest spa experience and raise retail revenues throughout the world. One country at a time.

Linda Harding-Bond
Linda Harding-Bond is shifting the paradigm on spa retail training with "Increasing Your Retail Selling” This system focuses on customer engagement and discerning the guest's needs through skilled listening. It is uniquely designed to develop the inherent skills of introverts-the predominant personality type in the spa and wellness industry. Retail sales results are immediate and long lasting. The program is also available as an online training system with remote coaching for managers. Linda has provided training for Empire Beauty Schools, MSpa International, Six Senses Resorts, Oberoi Group and Goldeneye Resort & Spa. She is author of The New Esthy Handbook. Contact her by e-mail for a complimentary consultation- Linda@Moontideconsulting.com .
Linda Harding-Bond
Linda Harding-Bond

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