Hotel massage can be a way to pick up some extra money. But it can also be time-consuming, costly and frustrating if you don’t know the ropes.
Here are 3 actions steps that you’ll need to take in order to be successful with hotel massage:
- Connect with the GM, Sales Director, and a motivated front-desk person.
- Offer free demo massages.
- Offer discounted massage for package deals.
By the way, these steps won’t cost you a penny.
“Relationships” Rule in Hotel Massage
In 2005, I jumped into the on-site hotel massage business for supplemental income. My massage team consisted of me, my wife, and two part-time employees. We could provide massage to about 25 hotels in our area. Out of the 25, we found work in 10.
I experimented with many forms of advertising, including a commercial that played in local hotels. We also advertised in a few hotel directories.
At one point, to save on advertising costs and make a little extra money, too, I hooked up with a printer and produced our own hotel directory for a local Best Western. We called it the Mini.
And here’s our free ad:
But at the end of the day, being successful at hotel massage depended on one thing: relationships.
Step #1: Connect with the GM, Sales Director and a Motivated Front-Desk Person
There are 3 people in a hotel that you need to have a great relationship with: the General Manager (GM), Sales Director and a motivated, front-desk person.
You need to know the GM because the buck stops with her.
She calls the shots with the operations of the hotel—and your success is ultimately dependent on having her on your side.
The Sales Director runs all the promotions for the hotel. He’s in charge of meeting sales goals, also known as getting heads in the beds.
The Sales Director is important to know because that is the person who will promote you through package deals (explained in step #2).
Also, sometimes you’ll find that the GM will punt vendor relationships to the Sales Director. If that’s the case, the Sales Director will be your primary management contact.
Lastly, you’ll need to connect with the front desk person who likes massage—and you. This person will spread your name to the guests who walk through the hotel lobby door every day. Finding that person may take a little work, but step #2 will help you with that.
Meet with the GM
Start relationship building by setting up a meeting with the GM. This shouldn’t be a problem unless the GM sees massage as a headache for her staff instead of an amenity for her guests.
If that’s the case, walk away.
But the reality is, most GMs love having amenities that they don’t have to manage or pay for.
Here’s how to set up a meeting: Call the hotel and ask to speak to the GM or email the GM and request an appointment to introduce your on-site massage service.
When you get a meeting, you’ll want to bring business cards. If you have promotional material, great. But if you don’t have promotional material, don’t worry. You have something better to provide: free demo massages.
Step #2: Offer free demo massages.
Offering free demo massages is an absolute winner with hotel management.
Because GMs are in a difficult position: they want to keep their staff happy but hotel owners/corporations/management companies don’t want GMs to spend a lot of money doing so. Your free massage demo is a gift!
Offer two, free demo-massage days. The second one should be scheduled four to six weeks after the first one. The reason you’re going to offer two is so that hotel workers that missed you the first time have a chance to try out your service later. Also, you’re getting another chance to market your services to all the people who will, ultimately, be selling your service.
Hotel Massage Demo
When you set up your free, chair-massage demo for the hotel staff, get your hands on as many people as possible. If the GM or Sales Director doesn’t want to get a massage, don’t sweat it as long as you’re taking care of their front desk, housekeeping and maintenance staffs.
When you’re working on the front-desk workers, pay attention to the person who loves your massage. This is the person that will spread your name to each guest walking through the hotel door. Make sure you get that front-desk person’s name.
After the demo, call the GM. Thank her for letting you do the demos. If your business cards are not on or behind the front desk at this point, ask the GM if you could leave cards for the front desk staff.
Also, ask her if you can give front desk staff a commission for referring a guest to you. I’ve gotten mixed responses. Whichever the response, abide by the GM’s request.
If commission is permissible, make sure your rock star, front-desk person knows that you’re providing a commission with each massage referral. The commission is negotiable. I would suggest $10 per referral.
If you’re uncomfortable with providing a commission and have a studio or place where you can bring clients to, offer front-desk workers a special massage rate. For rock star, front-desk-ers, I’ve extended this offer to their family and friends.
Now it’s time to galvanize your relationship with the Sales Director.
Step #3: Offer Discounted Massage for Package Deals.
As your relationship with the GM strengthens, go back to her and offer your massage at a discounted price for a package deal. If she bites, she’ll send you to the Sales Director.
A hotel package deal is a special that hotels run where they bundle services at a discounted price. For example, a package deal may be a Women’s Weekend package which includes a two nights stay, in-room massage, manicure and a trip to the local winery—at a really good price.
Since the price point for the package deal needs to be low to attract customers, you’ll have to offer your massage at a discounted price.
For a package deal, we would provide a 60 minute on-site massage for $60. Our normal pricing ranged from $90 to $120 depending on the hotel.
Package deals are not where you’re going to make the most money doing hotel massage. They’re about relationship building.
For the most part, Sales Directors are forced to offer package deals because of the competitive nature of the hotel industry. And most Sales Directors that I’ve talked to would rather not have to offer them because they involve a lot of work.
You’re simply making the life of the Sales Director a little easier by offering great pricing and a hassle-free service he can count on. And you’re still going to be walking away with $60 (plus a tip) just for relationship building.
Lastly, be flexible. The order in which things go down, which relationship happens first, can vary. I’ve had cases where a motivated, front-desk person did all the work for me, starting with introducing me to the GMs of the two hotels where he was employed.
With another hotel, the Sales Director was our number one fan. She promoted our massage services constantly. We had numerous paid chair massage gigs (employee appreciation events and corporate events) at her hotel. We also shot our commercial there.
This was our backup hotel.
Hotel Massage in a Nutshell
No matter which relationship gets you your foot in the door, you’ll need solid relationships with three key hotel personnel: the GM, Sales Director, and a rock star, front-desk person.
a. Get started by setting up a meeting with the GM.
b. Offer free demo massages for her employees.
Make the offer available for 2 dates. As you do the first free demo, identify the front desk person who loves your massage. Build that relationship by offering a commission (if appropriate) for a referral and/or discounted massage for her and her family/friends at your office.
c. Next talk to the Sales Director and offer discounted pricing for a package deal.
Make his life easy by suggesting package ideas where massage would fit in, like a Women’s Weekend package.
Okay, one last thing. Once you’re in, I don’t want you to be blind-sided by this: paid advertising.
Paying for Advertising
I’ve had mixed results with paying for ad space in a hotel directory. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary to advertise in a hotel directory—if you’re building solid relationships with key hotel personnel.
If you’re approached to buy ad space in a hotel directory, beware the hotel may have an interest in you purchasing advertising space.
If the directory is outsourced, the GM or Sales Director will provide the directory sales person with all the names of the vendors who do business with the hotel—including your name. This is so because the hotel wants to have a full directory of reliable vendors that their guests can call when they need something the hotel doesn’t provide.
In addition, the hotel is getting the hotel directory for free if the outsourced directory company can sell enough ads.
And if the hotel does the directory in-house (themselves), they’ll make money off the directory.
Can you feel the pressure to buy an ad building?
But think about this: you’re doing free demos, discounted package deals and providing an awesome amenity. That’s a lot of value!
So, when the question about buying advertising space in the hotel directory comes up, take a deep breath and say, “I wish I could do it, but it’s just not in my budget this year.”
It gets easier every time you say it:-)
Other Massage Ways to Increase Your Income
If hotel massage is not for you, here are 3 other ways you can bump up your massage numbers and/or make more money doing massage-related work.
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