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Digital will continue to disrupt our industry, says Tompkins

01 Mar 2017
The digital space is creating massive change and new challenges in the spa industry, according to Michael Tompkins, executive recruiter for Hutchinson Consulting and past chair of ISPA, who spoke on a panel at the World Spa & Wellness Convention in London.

“We’re not an industry of change, and unfortunately, a disturbance market is upon us now, and it’s something we have to think about,” said Tompkins.

On-demand massage companies like Zeel and Soothe are changing the way massage therapists work – and the way consumers interact with spas – said Tompkins.

“It’s creating a very challenging market in the hiring realm,” said Tompkins. “We have to think about what we can do to engage staff members before we lose our businesses to on-demand providers.”

With the new model of digital on-demand massage, therapists can make more money, control their schedule – and can leave behind the pressure of retail sales. This is particularly popular with Millennials, who are used to coordinating their lives through their phones.

“You can choose when you want to work just by pushing a button,” explained Tompkins, which “engages the therapists in the way they want to be engaged.”

Tompkins said that in the US alone, there are 40,000 unfilled spa vacancies, and 80 per cent of hotel and resort spas have unstaffed positions. Additionally, there are 300 spa director vacancies.

“What employees like is flexibility and nimbleness within the digital process,” said Tompkins, and he said digital companies are moving faster to hire therapists, getting the process down to two phone interviews and an in-person meeting – and hiring therapists within seven days.

Tompkins also said that with real estate continuing to be more expensive, we should expect the trend of digital on-demand and pop-up spas to expand.

“Change is coming and we’re going to have to manipulate our businesses,” said Tompkins. “If you’re not in the digital space, you need to ask how you can transform your business.”


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