Spa Connectors’ Kathryn Moore on the dire need for a new approach to training in the spa industry

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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  1. Dear Kathryn.
    I really appreciate and value your input in improving how spas operate.
    I myself am a spa trainer and its this very beginning phase that is or great importance for the spa owner as well as the candidate.

    I look forward to seeing more of Spa Connectors.
    Kindest regards

  2. The empowerment and happiness of the therapists and beauticians has also been my passion for 12 years. Thank you for this excellent article and your key role for the therapists worldwide.

  3. I agree 110% at what you are trying to achieve
    I have worked in two different spa areas
    In my experience as a therapist you are treated as a money making machine ,expected to do crazy amounts of massage and duties that’s the thing the Hotel GM usually doesn’t understand the ethos of a spa so it is treated like other areas of the hotel .
    And usually the spa Manager is not a qualified manager ???? In my experience , they just want the money in to keep the GM happy therefore the therapist is expected to work physically too hard which leads to future injury RSI I could go on and on

    1. I agree with this post. And there is a tremendous pressure on front desk in 5 star spa’s to cram everything in last minute. Never say No to guest’s… ?!? There is proper times to say no.. like when someome wants to sauna last minute in the room the therapist has a massagw in last minute. And they didnt pay the fee before hand. Now the room is a mess. It leaves the therapist looking unprofessional. But really it’s just what she said. They applaud the therapist that will do 5-6 massages daily instead of the one that cares about quality and cleanliness. There is alot that should be SOP. Alot of times though when they open a new spa. Instead of hiring a spa director. They also will want the Lead and front desk to come up with SOP’s almost inatantly at launch. It’s unrealistic. Thats my 2 cents in 20 years. And they lower commission wayyyyy too Low to the therapist. They are basically pushing thier whole body weight on thier wrist all day daily. Thats over 100 pounds of vertical pressure on backs hours at a time. Most people dont like carrying groceries. So try carrying groceries upside down before you become a therapist. It’ll help prep. I think there is alot of good people in Spa. But ya have ta get rid of passive agressive people. The only thing they do best is leave a spa with a skeleton crew.
      It’s also best to listen to the ones over the years that help build the spa to the level that it is. So dont be mistaken by someone doing 5-6 massages and griping about taking a lunch break. They wanna look lile superman to fool everyone so you will replace a good with them. If they dont need breaks? Or time in between, i Doubt’they clean.. that’s what iv’e noticed. It’s hard not to notice. I could go on. But i hope this helps. More Drama’No Nama’ so stay relaxed. Best regards.

  4. Hi Kathryn,
    This a really good ethos. Therapists being able to move and support their families is so much better than the alternatives these people face.
    Nearer to home, I did my training in a no of holistic therapies but have been too busy with my sales career to practice. Due to redundancy I now have the opportunity to do what I love but need practice preferably with someone to oversee. I cannot find anyone/where to do this. Will this be something you may look at?
    Kind regards a…

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