Anja Eva Keller is a Spa & Wellness Consultant with international exposure. We have conducted an interview with her.
How long have you been a spa & wellness consultant?
I have been in the industry for almost three decades now in a variety of positions such as health club manager, spa director and spa consultant. After excelling in a variety of spa pre openings on three different continents for several years, I felt the need for re-connecting with European culture. I moved back to Europe in 2009 where I have been an independent and international spa consultant. In my spare time, when not working or walking my dog, I publish articles on spa & wellness on my site www.talkwellness.at.
What do you consider the most interesting task in conducting a spa or hotel review and mystery guest checks?
I enjoy performing as a mystery guest, but I also find doing in depth spa & hotel reviews interesting and challenging. When conducting spa or hotel reviews, it allows me to develop and refine my specialised check lists for compliance.
As mystery guest, I am the eyes and ears of real guests and can also identify the spa consumer’s behaviour. Understanding each business and its target is a very challenging and interesting task. After having performed my reviews or checks, I provide feedback to the business for which I need to combine experience, knowledge, creativity and analytical thinking. It is gratifying to see my recommendations applied based on my reviews.
Why is mystery guesting a spa important for hoteliers?
This should be obvious to hoteliers, but often is not. For once, mystery guesting performed by well trained professionals who know the trade inside out, is a valuable independent quality control process. Something that is not difficult to implement in a cost effective way.
Most hoteliers are experts in the core business, which is typically rooms, F&B, banqueting etc. While spa and wellness is a specialised area that can greatly enhance a hotel’s reputation.
Secondly, what I find typically is that hoteliers rely on limited knowledge and feedback and don’t see the blind spots where the spa’s strategy does not merge with the overall hotel business strategy. Through consultation I provide a path to a more integrated solution that offers a flawless chain or services for the guest.
Which element in spa management courses or programme is most challenging for you?
I enjoy teaching spa & wellness management programs to a new generation of professionals in an industry, that I am passionate about. Teaching allows me to do more than dispense course information. It allows me to channel students to the most beneficial resources, so students can apply theory to practise.
The reoccurring request from students that I face every new starting semester is “what are new trends in the spa industry”. This makes teaching fun and exiting as we find new things every year.
With all new fads, real trends, gimmicks and over-counter-products, nutritional supplements, DIY and self help products and literature, and commercialised new offers popping up almost every day, makes it a difficult landscape to navigate. For both students and many experienced spa managers. Finding the difference between short term fads versus beneficial long term trends. Long term trends create long-lasting memories of experiences that offer value to the then delighted customer. So, for me, the most challenging element in my spa management programs is to teach students how not to waste resources on short-lived fads with no return on investment, but to instead focus on effort to create sustainable offers for spa guests.
How do you connect sustainability issues to what you do?
Modern spas must play a more important role in general health and wellbeing in our societies. Over the past decade, a significant shift between the traditional ‘pampering beauty farm’ to places with a holistic focus on health of mind, body and soul.
With an estimated 60 Billion USD global annual revenue the spa industry utilises a huge amount of precious resources. The industry must make more progress and take responsibility in sustainability in areas like reduced water consumption, alternative energy sources, solar, and waste to reduce the carbon footprint.
I believe strong wellness practices can directly contribute to more sustainability in the industry by reducing health care costs and reducing consumption of precious resources.
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