Starting out in the hospitality industry as a trainee manager within the Crest Group of Hotels some years ago (too many years, thinking back!) I was overwhelmed by the extraordinary amount of knowledge and experience in that industry.
The same can be said for the spa industry, which I entered in 1999 as Operations Director for the Champneys group of companies. That knowledge isn’t always apparent and I wish I’d known that networking, sharing and simply asking questions was perfectly acceptable – generally people in the industry will help, because we’ve all been there at some point in our careers.
Absorb what works; study what doesn't; and take time to reflect
If I could advise the younger me, I’d say don’t shy away from others’ advice and never think you’re too wise to learn from their experiences. Other people’s hard-earned knowledge will help you grow, develop and achieve your objectives. When you’re young, willingly learn from those around you, absorb what works, study what doesn’t and take the time to reflect.
At the start of my career, an influential manager at the time said to me: ‘be creative, expansive and experiment with business. You can be assured not all plans will work, but if you learn as you go even mistakes can be turned into successes.’ It’s advice that’s stayed with me. You can only change what is to come, never what has passed, but looking to the past can give you the right road map for the future.
Management style is as important, if not more important, than technical skill
I have learnt that management style is as important, if not more important, than technical skill. I realised early on those managers that inspired me had a style that took care of those in their charge, rather than constantly trying to be in charge. Behaviour over technical skill is the motto of management I’d share with a younger me, and anyone starting out.
Tomorrow's spa leaders are learning the good and bad of spa management from our example today
The future of the spa industry lies in its leadership. Tomorrow’s leaders are learning the good and the bad of spa management by our example today. What matters is nurturing your staff, and realising they are the future of the industry. Encourage them, develop them, and promote positive thinking. Seize the opportunity through learning, through positive behaviour and shun the negativity or those who say it can’t be done.
Author: Ray Payne
Ray Payne joined the spa industry as operations director for Health Farm Group (now Champneys) in 1998 – the largest independent Health Resort business in the UK.
Five years later, in 2003 Ray succeeded Dorothy Purdew, founder and co-owner of Champneys, as managing director of the Health Resort Group.
In 2011 Payne left Champneys to set up R-Spa, his spa management company, and in the same year became a Director of the Spa Life International team.