I am soooo very happy about this interview, that I have had the pleasure of having with one of my former (and excellent!) students in spa management. Spiros’ story is inspiring and refreshing, and if I weren’t working in the industry as yet I would definitely be convinced to do so in the future after reading this…
I just love the answers, don’t you too?
Spiros, how did you get into the Spa industry in the first place?
I began working as a personal trainer and gym supervisor in a Spa center back in 2005. I had studied physical education in the University so I had good knowledge of human Anatomy but I only knew few things about massage treatments. Then, during the season peak, one of the therapists called in sick so the spa manager asked me if I would be interested to receive a basic training in order to perform some massages and help the team out when needed. I was so much fascinated by this opportunity that I decided to study holistic massage for the next two years and work as a massage therapist.
What inspires you?
As a new father (my son is now 14 months old) I nowadays get much inspiration by interfering with children. Their innocence, kindness and genuine curiosity is always giving me a brighter perception of life and gets me keep moving forward.
What is special about the spa industry in Greece?
The Greek Spa industry is growing really rapidly; I believe that with the development of many notable professionals across the country, Greek Spas will soon play a protagonist role in the Spa industry across Europe by generating many new trends and ideas.
What are your major external challenges?
I guess that the most important external challenge we are facing is the global recession. For most spa-goers, Spa services is more a luxury than a staple, and in times of crisis it is understandable that luxury goods are affected more. However, although we are facing a slight decrease in the average spend of our core spa-goers, there is a simultaneous raise of our new-entry guests and this is a very hopeful message!
What are your prime internal challenges within the spa?
One of our constant internal challenges (and perhaps the most important one) is to exceed guest expectations. This has always been one of the primary objectives in spas and hospitality business, but lately the real target has become not just to exceed guest expectations but to convulse them in such a way so that they have no other option than coming back for more.
Where do you see the Spa industry in Greece evolving, what are current trends?
The Greek Spa industry has taken several steps ahead during the last years, however there is still much way to go. The Spa professionals in Greece must rally following the standards of other European spa associations and try to innovate by combining the existing spa trends with the USPs of Greek spa locations such as the extraordinary landscapes, the beautiful weather and the unique local ingredients.
Have you worked/lived in different countries before? Which ones, and what learning experiences did you take from there?
I have lived for half a year in Barcelona through a University exchange program when I was studying in the Physical education department. Later on I have travelled twice in Thailand (for about 1 month each time) in order to perfect my technique on Thai massage. I must say that I was deeply moved and inspired by the benevolence and humility of Thai people; this was a cultural shock for me and a life-changing experience as I have learned to appreciate certain values such as altruism, sincerity and simplicity.
Do you work with an international team?
Our Spa teams consist of more than 60 professionals from different countries. Most of them are Greek but there are also staff from Lithuania, Russia, Leetonia, Ukraine, Italy, Germany etc. Working within an international team is fun as everyone has the chance to get in touch with different cultures, learn new ethics etc. however, this also lurks some risks as the level of communication between co-workers should be very high in order to ensure the departments’ flawless operation.
What is your very personal wellbeing tip?
One of the most important problems in many modern societies is that people “live to work” instead of “working to live”. By allowing our job to become our whole life, there is no time left to have fun and then stress overcomes all our healthy emotions.
If I were to give a tip to all people reading this then it would be something like : “Eat healthy, sleep like a baby and do not forget to have some fun!”
Spiros Gaitanidis serves the Greek Spa industry for the last 11 years, currently as a Spa Director at Sani Resorts with broad experience in all aspects of spa operations, management and line employee development, recruiting, technical training, financial management. He has also been practicing as a Shiatsu and Thai massage therapist for 15 years and he systematically receives training over new techniques and healing methods. During the last two years he has also been working with Anne Semonin, an Haute Couture French cosmetic brand, providing consultation to different spas worldwide with emphasis on raising the spa profitability and optimizing retail sales.
all pictures (c) Spiros Gaitanidis
Would you like to get in touch with Spiros or ask him a question? Please feel free to do so by posting a comment below!