Kathryn Moore is the founder and Managing Director at Spa Connectors, which offers comprehensive business, recruitment, and training solutions for 5-star spas and wellness centers globally.
Among their services, Spa Connectors offers established hotels and spas a wide array of training solutions, including recruitment and training of therapists, service providers, and managers — something Moore felt the industry needed a lot of help with. This is why she founded the company in the first place.
We spoke with Moore about her path to starting Spa Connectors, and why she feels so strongly that the industry needs to radically change its approach to training.
How did you come to be doing what you are today?
In my previous role I had 65 spas throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Europe. And we constantly had problems with finding staff, and with training. I saw a gap, and I also saw that it wasn’t just us; it was everywhere. And then I also saw the same issues happening in the UK, Australia, and the US. So, I developed programs to address the gaps.
I’ve now I’ve been in business two years. We’ve got training centers in Indonesia and Thailand, and are about to open in India, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Africa.
Can you be more specific about some of the challenges?
Some of the issues are that people don’t realize what kind of potential there is for careers in the spa industry. Another issue is that the training in schools isn’t always job relevant. So, people are getting trained in treatments and protocols that are not even offered in spas and salons. Another is that people are not being trained in the process of running a business.
We train for both technical skills and soft skills, and then place people in jobs.
You have some unique ways of engaging students in their education, yes?
Yes. We make the students pay for their own training. We don’t let the hotels pay for it, because we found that if they get it for free, then they’re not committed, and they don’t take it seriously. We make them pay so they’ve got skin in the game, so that they are committed and they start to understand how valuable it is to invest in their own education. We don’t make them pay a lot, but we make them pay.
What’s your biggest challenge in the industry?
A lack of understanding of the bigger picture from people in the industry. Often, if you’re looking at a spa in a hotel, it’s a small amount of the overall revenue generated in that operation. Maybe two to three percent of revenue in some of these places is spa revenue. In a general manager’s eyes or an owner’s eyes or an asset manager’s eyes, these spas are just a little thorn in their side. And they don’t see that they should be spending money on improving these businesses.
But the spa is more than just another operating department. A good spa can help increase your ADR, bring in a better caliber of guests, and increase occupancy and overall spend.
I would say that’s probably the biggest challenge; people not understanding that the training I’m putting into their people can actually generate rewards.
What is the greatest thing?
Being able to give these opportunities to young women and men — but essentially women — that have never thought that they could go and get a job overseas, be more than a therapist, and send a paycheck home to their families. Being able to motivate and inspire them, and allow them to make more money than they ever expected.
I’ve got therapists from poorer countries working in the Maldives earning $3,000 U.S.D. a month. They’ve paid off their houses. Their children can go to school. Their parents are living comfortably. They’re sacrificing massively by being away from their family, but they go and do it for a few years so that they can put money aside.
And what’s your favourite thing about the spa industry as a whole?
I’ve always just loved looking after myself. I do yoga and meditation and see a lot of different healers. And I just love the fact that you can essentially develop yourself, improve yourself, evolve yourself internally and externally. If I can share some of these things with other people and it can help improve their lives as well, then it just gives me a good feeling.
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