Pulse September 2015 - Page 46

TODD LEFF President and CEO Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa Trenton, New Jersey the typical hotel spa environment. This international brand-wide concept aims to demystify the spa experience by allowing guests to spa on their own terms, providing a new way to look at the hotel spa.” The first Spa by JW concept was launched at JW Marriott Houston Downtown in December last year. The new spa concept, according to Gaskins, includes an express spa suite that provides on-demand treatments starting at a 12-minute entry point in a customheated spa chair massage that features embedded scent infusers, noise-canceling technology, mobile phone charging stations, and many more. As a hotel company of multiple brands, Marriott International has built itself as a colossal brand with a strong global presence in the hotel industry. Franchising was not a large part of Marriott’s core business until the 1990s. As of early last year, Marriott International has more than 700 franchise companies in North America and close to 100 franchise companies outside the U.S. Common Challenges As a franchisee, challenges could arise early. Terri Smith, a franchise owner of The Woodhouse Day Spas in Carmel, Indiana since 2006, recalled facing budgetary issues during the spa’s early stages. “From having spent over budget in construction and advertising, coupled with a major road closing and tenants leaving my center to a down economy, I was in a financial nightmare,” says Smith. Fortunately, she found support in The Woodhouse Day Spas Founder and CEO Jeni Garrett. “Jeni met with me weekly to pull back my spending and develop a plan to financial success. Today, we rank top three in 32 locations and number one in retail sales,” she says. Smith said the idea of franchising a business came upon her when she came across a magazine feature about The Woodhouse Day Spas franchise. “It piqued my interest,” she says, recalling how she flew in to San Antonio, Texas a week later to experience the spa’s serv- ices for herself. She found the support of a franchise business model invaluable, from not having to worry about the marketing aspect to having access to a design team that can assist her when she needs a design update. Luongo, on his part, sees common franchise challenges in these three aspects: people (leading, training and retaining), service (understanding the importance of customized experience) and technology (leveraging technology for efficiency). “Massage Envy Spa’s comprehensive training and support for franchisees is focused on building a profitable massage business and strong brand identity,” Luongo says. “Dedicated support teams provide classroom and field training, online training and webinars, cus- “Feedback tells us that both current and potential spa clients are looking for a relaxed environment that is luxurious, yet purposeful and approachable.” 44 PULSE ■ September 2015 (CONTINUED ON PAGE 46) MITZI GASKINS Vice President & Global Brand Manager JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts Bethesda, Maryland