News that the government are pushing through a proposal to lower the level of qualifications for training spa therapists is one that is deeply troubling to us at Spabreaks.com, and one that is problematic for customers, therapists, and spas alike.
Firstly, it is highly likely to negatively impact the customer experience, which is not something that any industry can afford to do either from an economic point of view or as a matter of integrity. As the last few years have shown, no industry is in a position to lower its standards. You get one chance to make a good impression, and while a good spa experience can make someone a devotee for life, a bad spa experience will leave you cold and highly likely to brand the rest of the industry as just the same. No one is ever going to return for a second time to be poked and prodded at their own cost for the sheer entertainment value.
As a point of integrity however, during recession a spa day or break has for many become the alternative to spending a lot of money on a big overseas holiday. That time is important and should never be undervalued for its significance to the individual. Your time is valuable, it isn't acceptable to give any customer an experience that they regret spending time and money on, which of course is the danger when therapists have not received adequate training.
On another note, not to train therapists to a reasonably high level is to devalue the service that they offer and to leave individuals feeling potentially insecure about what they do. It is a mistake to undervalue the importance of a little time out focusing on your wellbeing or simply relaxing. It can have a seriously big impact on our outlook and our physical wellbeing in a society where stress plays a phenomenal role in our day-to-day lives.
I have heard so many wonderful stories from people who have been on spa breaks and have really benefited, from the ones where someone recovering from cancer started to feel like themselves again, to those who have found the right complementary therapy to a particular health concern, incidences where therapists have been instrumental in an early cancer diagnosis, stories of improved confidence, and even those where someone's final weeks have been made a happier time with friends thanks to the change of environment and relevant support to make that possible. None of this is feasible without confident, happy, skilled therapists who are secure in their expertise, and it is not fair on them or the customer to throw them into any of these situations without the right preparation and training.
Finally, this is an attitude that says something terribly sad about our wider attitude towards wellbeing; that we are a nation of quick fixes and fast solutions rather than long term investment, and that is something that can only be to our own detriment.
It is very easy to dismiss the spa industry and the people who work so hard within it as something 'pink and fluffy'; the proverbial cherry on top; the fat to be cut when times are tough, but we're not. We're the accessible face of wellbeing. We're the less intimidating introduction to health and fitness. We're the cosy white robe ready to wrap you up when the rest of the world is giving you a bit of a battering.
To think anything different is not just worrying; it's frankly insulting.