A Quick and Responsive System for Today’s Fast-Paced Spa
One of the most recognisable cities in the world, London is simultaneously thrilling, stimulating, and stressful. Its residents live life in the fast lane, yet there is an energy about the city that makes it enjoyable. Right in the middle of the hustle and bustle is the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. The hotel is renowned for establishing a balance of design and luxury with modernity and sophistication—just like London itself.
The hotel’s primary goal is to ensure the comfort of its guests, and nothing says comfort like a luxurious spa. The rooftop is just as busy as the hotel and surrounding city, but once our guests walk through the doors, they can take things as slowly as they want.
I began my role as Spa Director in the spring of 2018, and I immediately saw it was different from any other spa where I’d worked. Many hotels, especially Four Seasons properties, are more like resorts and have a quieter, more laid back atmosphere. But there’s a constant hum of activity that accompanies a property based in a city centre. I love the excitement and energy that comes from working in a place that never stops moving.
A System That Wasn’t Up to the Task
Even if they love being in the centre of the action, our guests come here to step out of the fast lane, however briefly. That means we have a constant influx of people who we want to make as comfortable as possible as quickly as possible, so our staff needs to have a fast and easy system to enable that.
Unfortunately, the system they had in place when I arrived couldn’t keep up with our users or our guests. The software wasn’t intuitive, and it was challenging to navigate. The basic task of booking a treatment could take up to 15 minutes—three times longer than it should. The system was also slow. Our staff would sometimes compensate by rushing to get guest information but would often miss some of those details, which we needed to optimise the guest experience.
From a management perspective, there were massive gaps in knowledge about the business. The reports weren’t nearly as detailed as I needed to determine the best paths forward, and I couldn’t even answer basic questions: What was the busiest hour of the day? How many treatments were there during those hours? There was no way for me to get that information from the system, so we continued to operate in the dark.
An Easy Switch to Better Software
After speaking with Spa Directors at other Four Seasons properties, I learned that some used to manage their facilities. I dug into this particular software and found that it was a significant improvement to our existing system.
My primary goal was to find something that would give me the in-depth reporting and analysis required to determine the services we needed, the appropriate amount of staff, whether we had the right products, and what our customers really thought about our offerings. Book4Time revealed this data in a simple, straightforward way.
Because Book4Time was already in place at other Four Seasons spas, we already had proof of its benefits. It was an easy sell—Once I demonstrated how easy it was to obtain managerial data within a few clicks, my manager approved the switch. By August 2018, the Book4Time rollout was underway.
Most of the physical setup happened remotely, and the migration of information from our old software was seamless. For training, Book4Time placed an agent on site to assist us for a few days. She held dedicated training sessions for different roles, including receptionists to therapists. As the Spa Director, I use a separate section of the system, and the agent engaged in 1:1 training with me so I could learn the best way to generate a wide range of reports. The various training sessions gave everyone time to get hands-on experience and ask questions pertaining to their use case. We all felt prepared when we went live.
Translating the Frenetic Buzz Into a Relaxing Experience
Using a new system always requires a leap of faith, but once we started to use Book4Time daily, we were certain we had made the right decision. Today, Book4Time is the foundation for most of what we do at the spa, and we have a wide range of use cases, including:
- Checking in and checking out guests
- Booking treatments
- Quickly determining occupancy rates at any given point in time
- Managing gift cards
- Verifying that we have the necessary inventory, which can keep us from running out of items
One of the most exciting features is customer notes. It can be difficult to provide personal touches that make a guest feel special in such a fast-paced environment. Any staff member can leave notes in Book4Time, allowing therapists to create a more personalised experience for guests. For example, if someone prefers a particular scent or tea, we can note that preference and immediately offer what they like during their next visit. This attention goes a long way to making people comfortable, and no one has to remember a thing.
Comprehensive customer analytics tells us more about our best customers, including details on a customer’s gender. Many of our guests are Middle Eastern and we have created separate gender facilities, each with different products. Having more guest information at our fingertips in a way that is easy to query and digest makes it a lot easier to plan accordingly.
Improved Efficiency, Operations, and Support
I’ve come to rely on various administrative features—especially the reporting capabilities—to understand what is working, what isn’t working, and to analyse where we can improve. Book4Time has more than 40 reports and analytics to analyse appointments and busy periods in addition to customer-specific analytics.
If we wanted to make changes to the menu before, we had to take it up the corporate chain of command. Once they approved the changes, we’d then update the website. Now, we can manage the website through Book4Time and quickly modify services information based on inventory or seasonality. Book4Time has increased the flexibility of the spa to respond to guest needs as they change.
One of my favourite aspects is the ability to pull reports based on revenue, dollar spend, and type of guest. This information provides a much clearer path to where we could focus and how we can improve. It’s also easier to communicate spa information to management, who don’t have a spa background. When an executive asks me to assess or quantify a particular aspect of the business, it only takes me a few minutes to generate a report and send it for their review, including reliable data to back up my decisions and action steps.
Book4Time’s support is just as flexible as the platform. We rely on the built-in help and information feature. If we can’t find what we need there, the company is always quick to respond to our request for help resolving an issue. The company is also willing to add or change a feature in the platform to meet our specific needs if there is sufficient demand. I never expected this level of customisation, and it’s a real selling point for the software. We’ve seen examples of this during the pandemic. Book4Time has introduced several add-ons to facilitate activities like self check-in to reduce contact and keep guests flowing through a facility.
Staff Performance and Retention
I underestimated how Book4Time would help us manage our staff and gauge their performance. I can query the most and least requested therapists, the biggest (and smallest) tips, and individual therapist’s retail sales. Using this data, I can identify people who may need more attention to improve their performance.
Our top priority is to keep guests comfortable, but we want our staff to feel supported in this high-demand space, too. We want to nurture our therapists and encourage their professional development, and Book4Time shows me the best way to dedicate time to my staff. Ultimately, we want to retain our best and brightest through positive reinforcement. We don’t have to rely on guest surveys and questionnaires about their experience with staff because we have the data that conveys their choices and opinions.
Peace of Mind Amidst a Whirlwind of Activity
Even when we aren’t actively using Book4Time, we know it’s there. Over the past year, we’ve seen a significant uptick in online booking. Many of these bookings come in after hours, and it’s reassuring to have a system to capture those appointments instead of hoping guests call back when the spa is open.
Book4Time integrates with our hotel system, but apart from that, we don’t use any other platforms at the spa. We don’t have to. I now have access to detailed information in minutes (if not seconds), which allows us to keep up with the demands of the city pace of Park Lane Spa.