Spa Consultant & Specialist

Who and what

It is one of the most sought-after business roles in the world of wellness, and especially abroad. Not many know what a Spa Consultant & Specialist is or does. We asked about it in this interview to Alessandra Covi, who turned her passion into an actual job, becoming a specialised consultant and trainer for the world of spas in Italy.

Alessandra Covi IMMAGINE.

Who is Alessandra Covi?

“When I have to tell about myself from a professional point of view, I always think about what my children say about me. “Mom goes to awesome hotels, she also goes to the spa to relax” – It makes me look good, doesn’t it? Abandoning my family to go on holiday! Or I think about the dreamy eyes of my youngest child’s teacher, when one day I went to pick him up from school and she told me: “Madam, you have a wonderful job!” Yes, I said. “Do you really get massages all day long?” Well. Not quite. But I am happy that they think of me like that, because it means that my eyes shine when I talk about my job, and so they think that I have a lot of fun and do wonderful things. And it is true, I am passionate about by job. And I love spas, not only as a professional, but also as a client (obviously!)
I am a specialised consultant and trainer in the world of spas and wellness hotels. This professional figure, today, is defined as “spa consultant” or “spa specialist”, and it needs to be explained, as there are not many people who know what that is.”

How did your professional experience in the world of wellness begin?

“I started working in the world of wellness 20 years ago: it happened by chance, as most good things do. Making it into my life work was however not a chance.
It was 2004. With a degree in Marketing and Communication, I had been working in the sector for a few years: from an advertising to corporate training on effective communication and public speaking, among others. At that time, I lived in Padua and I got the opportunity to work as marketing manager for an important wellness and fitness centre of the city: 3.500 square meters including gym, swimming pool, fitness rooms, medical centre, beauty centre, and above all one of the first Urban spas in Italy. It was a cutting-edge facility, pioneering for the exclusive clubs like Virgin, that in just a few years would have reached many Italian cities.
This is how it my knowledge of this sector began. I started off with huge curiosity, and then I studied, analysed, and experimented in the field day after day to understand what worked and what didn’t, and how to manage a spa to make sure that it becomes a profitable and successful business. In those years, I also started to work as marketing consultant with several spas in Veneto.
In 2010 I moved to Mantua, and there I managed an Urban spa for 12 years, taking it from a start-up to being a thriving business with 10 employees and an average of 12.000 customers a year. This important management experience allowed me to a acquire a deep knowledge of the world of spas, and to be able today to provide consultancy and personnel training in spas all over Italy.”

What are you skills?

“The skills that I have developed over the years are the ability to define the concept and arrangement of the spa in the design phase, being able to effectively manage a spa, the wellness marketing and communication strategies, the capability to train people on hospitality, customer management, effective communication, work methods. Coming from the marketing sector, I am very oriented toward business development and financial results.
The fundamental soft skills to do this job are the ability to interact with people, leadership, as well as organisational and planning skills”.

What does it mean to be a spa and wellness specialist?

“First and foremost, it means travelling, discovering the beauty of our territory, getting to know new people. I love my job because I perceive it as a wonderful opportunity. It is a continuous growth: in every place I go, I have new experiences, I learn, I observe and I increase my knowledge. I experience first-hand the new trends, the continuous evolution of the wellness concept and of the general demand of wellness solutions.
I keep on studying, getting informed, researching, trying. Every time that I can, I go for new spas, new treatments and cosmetics, I look for new suppliers.
Curiosity, enthusiasm and passion are the key words of this magical job.”

What do you offer to those who work with you today?

“I observe, I listen, I understand: this is the starting point of every consultancy, and it is crucial to do my job well and to understand the client, their business and their goals.
When I receive a consulting request, I always start from an in-depth analysis of the situation, in order to define what works, and what conversely needs to be improved. I never approach the issue confrontationally. First, I analyse and then I look for solutions, if possible, to enhance the already existing tools, people, and methods. I suggest changing things drastically when they really don’t work well for the business.
After this analysis, I give new ideas, tools to improve, effective strategies. I set marketing and commercial development plans.
I train the spa personnel so that they become efficient and learn the necessary soft skills to ensure quality: I work a lot on communication skills, which are the basis for every relationship with guests and colleagues.
I take care of the promotion and communication activities for the spas of some of my clients, creating contents that describe the wellness experience and convey emotions.
On the other hand, the start-up projects allow me to create strategies and procedures from scratch, and in this case it is easier to immediately start off on the right foot and reach the business goals and development in a shorter time. The main activities of these projects are the analysis of the local market, the definition of the spa concept, the creation of the wellness proposal and of the spa menu, the choice of the suppliers, as well as the selection and training of the personnel.
In either case, be it a start-up or an established company, there can’t be any standardisation when it comes to spa consulting: there are only effective methods that need to applied in a different and customised way according to the context.”

Who are your target customers?

My typical client has a Business to Consumer kind of business: hotels with a spa, resorts, urban spas, longevity spas that address a target of people who are looking for excellent wellness experiences, want to enjoy regeneration moments and are attentive to their lifestyle and health.
Clients who take my training courses are also special to me. I work with various companies, societies and institutions where I held training courses dedicated to the world of hospitality, attended by hotel owners and managers and by spa personnel. The goal of these courses is to create awareness, collect the tools to carry out an analysis of one’s own business and take with you some ideas to develop. Training is also an important exchange opportunity between different organisations. I always encourage the interaction between the participants, because listening to the experiences of others can inspire you to improve.
I strongly believe that only an increased culture in the sector can drive the enhancement of the wellness offer in Italy.”

Who do you address?

“I interact with all the people who revolve around the spa. The owner and managers are the first people I come into contact with. I define with them the kind of work to do according to their needs, and I exchange information with them during the various phases, providing continuous analyses, projects, reports and feedback.
The spa employees, like spa managers, beauty operators and receptionists are the people I train and support, in order for them to acquire competence and become able to work autonomously applying effective methods and strategies.
I often deal with suppliers, and especially during the initial phase of the partnership, from the selection to the actual choice, and even after that, to explain in detail what kind of support is required.
For the start-up projects, I also deal with the various reference people within the project: architects, interior designers and all the key suppliers, like Starpool, for example.”

What kind of support can you offer to an architect that has to create a spa?

“The synergy with the architect makes it possible to create excellent projects, where style, aesthetics and function go together.
My role is to provide the architect with important information on the activities that staff and customers carry out daily in the spa. This aims to prevent errors which, in the every-day management, can cause inconveniences and sometimes even repairs, even though the spa may be new.
I also give support concerning the characteristics that some areas must have in order to make the spa efficient. I’ll give an example: the capacity of the relaxation areas and of the changing rooms determine how many people can be in the spa. This factor influences the revenue, too.
Effective team work happens when every professional brings their own experience and competence to the table, working with the others to create a project that is effective under every point of view. “