The luxury hospitality industry is characterized by intense competition, with new entrants putting forth novel concepts to attract a customer base. How does hospitality groups like Ikeda maintain its stalwart position in the industry and grow its fiercely loyal member base for years? The answer, according to Ikeda Group founder, Eric Tan, is in Service Excellence, quintessentially embodied in the Japanese spirit of hospitality (‘Omotenashi’).
A meteoric star in hospitality
Ikeda Spa was founded in 2009 with the aim of spreading the authentic art of Japanese relaxation. In the 9 years since its founding, Ikeda Spa has swept away some of the most coveted awards in the industry, such as:
- World Luxury Spa Award
- Haute Grandeur Global Spa Awards
- Harper Bazaar's Singapore Spa Awards
- Elle Beauty Treat Award
- Her World Spa Awards
- Cleo Beauty Hall Of Fame
- Singapore Women's Weekly Spa Awards
- Daily Vanity Top 10 Trusted Beauty Services Award
- Tripadvisor Certificate Of Excellence
Instilling a culture of Omotenashi
Striving to offer the best-personalised spa services and the most exquisite suite of Japanese-inspired treatments, Ikeda Spa believes in investing in their human capital, and that a happy team will translate to happy customers.
A full day orientation programme is created to align new hires with Ikeda’s core values and ease the new hires’ transition into the company.
With the perspective of investing in their staff’s professional growth, every new hire gets a customized training plan. Highly personalized, the plan is crafted after trainers evaluate the new hire’s skillsets and assess what are the existing gaps that would help to grow the new hire professionally.
The training plan is complemented with rigorous assessments to ensure that the training objectives are met, before the new hire is deemed operational ready for actual interaction with clients.
If there is one key takeaway that can be distilled from the training, is the understanding that learning is an ongoing process, and this is critical to help Ikeda’s team keep an open, learning mindset and actively seek ways to improve and grow professionally.
The result of a well-crafted talent retention and development strategy
Accolades and lofty recognitions aside, Ikeda Spa prides itself on a happy, motivated workforce. Here are some snippets of staff’s feedback on what is most striking about working at Ikeda Spa:
“I felt valued when my suggestions for improvement were taken into consideration immediately to improve training.”
“I was surprised to see a detailed training plan when I started my training. I understood they took training seriously when I learnt trainers and venue were blocked in advance for my training.”
Creating the change that they want to see
Ikeda Spa plays an important role in grooming talents for the hospitality industry, and is accredited to conduct a plethora of both internationally recognised courses such as CIBTAC and ITEC, and nationally recognised courses such as WSQ certified courses. This is effected through the “Ikeda University”, the dedicated training arm of Ikeda Group that all new hires go through prior to the start of their employment and is a manifestation of the management team’s firm belief in upskilling their workforce continuously.
Advice for SMEs in service-oriented industries
In a constantly changing environment, where products and services can easily slip into obsolescence or get replicated, Ikeda Spa has identified that the core to a winning formula for customer retention is a memorable customer experience. To this end, Eric and his team have the following advice for service-oriented SMEs looking to grow their business in the face of ever-increasing competition:
Attitude does matter (a lot)
Often, existing skillsets / competencies are given the majority weightage in evaluating for hire. In Ikeda Spa, attitudes play an equal role in the consideration for hiring /placement decisions. The expectation of a positive attitude in service excellence is spelt out in Ikeda’s core value criteria, and staff are evaluated monthly on this aspect as well. Based on these assessments, Ikeda is able to garner a consistent snapshot of their staff, which serves as the foundation for the management team to handpick staff for leadership / management potential.
Go beyond monetary incentives
Monetary rewards are good, but they do not form the complete picture. At Ikeda Spa, staff are inculcated with the culture of praise and open recognition, where staff are encouraged to commend other members of staff and appreciate their efforts in service excellence. An annual Happiness Survey is also conducted to assess staff satisfaction at the workplace, and at the same time, learn from the perspectives of the staff on how the firm can further improve to better serve the clients’ needs.
Be innovative – New hires as ‘Secret Customers’
A unique practice of Ikeda Spa is to send new hires as a Secret Customer to the outlet,and experience the service standard provided by the existing staff. This sets as a performance benchmark for the new hires,and also helps to ensure that Ikeda Spa is delivering on its service promise.
Interested to join Ikeda Group and carve a career in the service industry? Check out Ikeda's career portal for their current opportunities!