Making additional money through hotel massage is possible; however, getting started can be difficult, pricey, and irritating if you don’t know what you’re doing.
In order to succeed in the hotel massage industry, you must take the following three steps: 1) establish rapport with the general manager, sales director, and an enthusiastic front desk employee; 2) provide complimentary demonstration massages; and 3) provide discounts for massage as part of package deals. These measures won’t cost you a dime to implement.
Communication Is King
To augment my income, I entered the on-site hotel massage business in 2005. My massage crew included my wife, two part-timers, and me. We can service around 25 local hotels with massage services. Ten of the hotels out of the original 25 offered us jobs.
Among the many advertising strategies I tried, one of the most successful was a commercial that was aired on hotel televisions in the area. We also placed ads in a few hotel guides, but we quickly learned that the real key to success in the hotel massage business was building and maintaining meaningful connections with our clients.
Action Step #1: Connect with the general manager, sales director and a motivated front-desk person.
You need to have excellent rapport with the hotel’s general manager, sales director, and a highly-motivated front-desk employee in order to have a successful stay.
The general manager is the person who can actually make things happen, therefore you should talk to her. Long-term success in a hotel requires having her on your side, as she has last say over all operational matters.
The hotel’s sales director is in charge of all advertising and marketing. To achieve sales targets, or “get heads in beds,” is his primary responsibility. Knowing the sales director is crucial because he is the one responsible for promoting you through bundles (described in the second action phase). On occasion, the sales director will be given responsibility for maintaining connections with suppliers rather than the general manager. This means the sales director will be your main point of contact at the company’s upper echelons.
You should also make friends with a receptionist who shares your passion for massage. This individual will be responsible for promoting your brand to the hotel’s daily check-ins. It will take some effort, but the second step will help you find that individual.
Establish initial contact by scheduling a meeting with the company’s top executive. This shouldn’t be too tough unless she views massage as a burden on her staff rather than a perk for her guests. The truth is that most general managers like cost-free conveniences.
Make an appointment with the hotel’s general manager by calling and asking to speak with them, or sending them an email introducing yourself and your massage service.
Bring some business cards to hand out when you finally land that meeting. Having marketing materials is a plus. However, don’t fret if you have no marketing materials to hand out. You’re better able to deliver something better, like free trial massages.
Action Step #2: Offer free demonstration massages
The management of the hotel will love it if you offer free demonstration massages. Why? Because hotel owners, corporations, and management organisations don’t want general managers to spend a lot of money making their employees happy, yet general managers are stuck in the middle. This is why I appreciate your offering of a free massage demonstration.
Give away two full massage sessions as a trial. Four to six weeks after the initial one is complete is when you should plan the second one. To accommodate the hotel staff who may have missed your initial demo day, you will be holding a second one. In addition, you can promote your service once more to the people who will be selling it.
Get your hands on as many of the hotel personnel as you can during the free chair massage demonstration you’re setting up. As long as you’re taking care of the front desk, housekeeping, and maintenance workers, it’s okay if the general manager or sales director doesn’t want a massage.
Pay special attention to the front desk employee who raves about your work. This is the person whose job it is to introduce you to every hotel visitor. If there is a front desk employee, be sure to ask for their name.
Call the general manager after the presentation is over. Send her gratitude for entrusting you with the demonstrations. If you haven’t already done so, please ask the management if you can leave business cards for the front desk employees on or behind the desk. You should also inquire if the front desk employees would be interested in receiving a commission if a guest they refer to you ends up making a purchase. The reactions to my plea have been all over the place. In either case, you must comply with the general manager’s order.
To the extent that it is legal in your area to offer a commission for massage referrals, be sure to inform the front desk staff of this fact. I propose a referral fee of $10. If you don’t feel comfortable offering a commission but have a studio or other location where you can bring clients, consider discounting massages for your front desk staff. I’d want to extend this offer to the friends and family of our rock star front desk staff.
Action Step #3: Offer discounted massage for package deals.
Return to the general manager as your rapport grows to offer a lower rate for a package deal including your massage services. The sales director will get the blame if she bites.
Some hotels provide specials where guests can save money by bundling different services together. For instance, a Women’s Weekend Package can include two nights’ lodging, in-room massage, manicure, and transportation to a nearby winery, all at a discounted rate.
You’ll need to give a cheap price on the massage as part of the package deal because that’s what it takes to get people interested in buying the whole thing. On-site massages, 60 minutes long, would cost $60 as part of a package deal. (Our standard rate for a massage of this duration is $90 to $120 per hotel.)
The best way to generate money providing massage services to hotel guests is not through package deals but rather through developing meaningful connections with guests. Given the intense competition in the hotel industry, most sales directors have no choice but to promote bundles of services. When I asked sales managers about them, the overwhelming majority said they’d rather not have to provide them because of the effort required.
You’re just making the sales director’s life simpler by providing him with excellent pricing and a service he can trust on, and yet you’ll earn $60 (plus a tip) for your efforts.
When it comes to investing in a hotel directory, I’ve had mixed outcomes. If you make good connections with the hotels’ important employees, you won’t need to pay to be listed in their directory, in my opinion.
Caution should be exercised if you are approached about purchasing advertising space in a hotel directory. It’s possible that the hotel would welcome your advertising business. To clarify, if the hotel decides to outsource the directory, the general manager or sales director will give the directory salesperson the names of all the vendors who do business with the hotel, including yours. This is so that hotel guests have a complete list of reputable businesses to contact if they require services the hotel doesn’t offer. Furthermore, if the outsourced directory provider sells enough ads, the hotel receives the hotel directory at no cost. In-house directory production also means more money for the hotel.
Are you starting to feel the heat to purchase a billboard building?
But consider this: you’re giving away stuff for free, offering great bargains on packages, and introducing a fantastic new feature. The hotel would benefit greatly from that.
Take a deep breath and politely decline the offer of advertising space in the hotel directory by saying, “Thanks for the offer, but it’s just not in my budget this year.” This has always worked for me.
Keep an Open Mind
Finally, be adaptable. It’s not always clear which events and relationships come first. One very enthusiastic front desk clerk went above and beyond in helping me, even going so far as to introduce me to the general managers of the two hotels where he worked.
The hotel sales director at another establishment was our biggest supporter. She was relentless in her promotion of our massage services. Chair massage was one of the many lucrative jobs we had at her hotel, where we worked for both corporate and employee functions. Our commercial was also filmed there.
To recap, then: You’ll need to be on good terms with the hotel’s general manager, sales director, and a rockstar front desk clerk if you want to book any rooms. The first step is to schedule a conference with upper management. Give her staff members a complimentary massage demonstration.
Extend the promotion for a total of two weeks. Find the receptionist who goes gaga over your massage during the first free trial. Create loyalty by rewarding her for sending business your way with a percentage of what you make from massages performed on her friends and relatives. Next, propose a package deal to the sales director and negotiate a price reduction. Suggest ideas for packages where massage could fit in, such as a Women’s Weekend package, and you’ll make his job much easier.
You should start getting offers for on-site massages now that you’re officially part of the team.