Every minute you spend under the healing hands of a massage therapist, or in the warmth of a mud bath at your favorite spa is the result of hours of behind-the-scenes effort. As with any industry, learning how to turn those hours of preparation into a client’s ultimate feeling of relaxation is something you master after years of practice.
Or, you can fast-track the process a little and get first-hand advice from someone who has already put in the years. The spa and wellness industry is the latest to turn the technology of video conferencing into a borderless, anywhere and anytime means of putting experienced mentors face-to-face with aspiring protégés.
The reach of video conferencing means the Global Wellness Institute’s mentoring program has been able to make connections across 22 countries in just two years of operation. It’s a model that could be applied to any industry in operation today to let young professionals learn, via online mentoring programs, from the best, no matter where they ply their trade.
Learning Online Through Face-to-Face Meetings
Saltability CEO and 20-year veteran of the spa and wellness business Ann Brown joined the program earlier this year. As a mentor, she meets with young managers twice a month by video call to chat about the day-to-day operations of the industry, covering everything from hands-on treatments to long-term business strategies. She believes the mentor-protégé relationship benefits both parties, giving the inexperienced real-world insights into the field, and keeping her up to date with the latest innovations and ideas.
There is a long history of this kind of mentoring in the business world, but the video conferencing version has flourished only recently. Last year, non-profit small business mentoring group SCORE began a pilot program to transfer its established in-person mentoring program to video conferencing. Like the Wellness Institute’s program, it uses common video conferencing equipment and platforms to let mentors, many of them retired business veterans, build lasting, formal relationships with the current generation of professionals.
The key to each program is the ability to use the internet’s boundless range to find the perfect match for any potential protégé.
Niche Online Mentoring Programs
Once online mentoring becomes more popular and accepted, it should be possible to establish a broad umbrella site to help young professionals find the exact type of experienced mind that can help their specific business.
In much the same way that takelessons.com provides a single source for finding online music teachers, or thetutorsdirectory.com gathers together online tutors across subjects, a directory of mentors could list experts by specific traits. Those looking for advice could stay at the broad level with a program like SCORE, and simply search for someone with small business experience, or they could dig deeper like the Wellness Institute and find someone who knows exactly what it’s like to run a spa.
And it doesn’t even matter what industry it is. All you need is access to an app like Skype, and a smartphone or desktop with webcam. Aspiring cooks can seek out the best French chefs, wedding gown designers can speak with fashion houses in Milan, and would-be stockbrokers can befriend Wall Street bulls.
Video Calling Is More Than Just Talk
The center of mentorship is conversation. With the number of video calling apps currently available for mobile phones, there are plenty of options out there for informal chats at the café, on the road, in the office, and at any hour of the day.
But if that was all mentoring was, you could just make a basic phone call. But video conferencing allows mentors and mentees to exchange documents and share screens in order to break down the nitty gritty of running a business. Some video chat apps let you watch streamed video and audio together (take a look at our ooVoo vs. Houseparty review), like webinars and online lectures, while video chatting.
Essentially, you can recreate the entirety of an in-person conversation online, short of pouring each other a coffee, with the added bonus of not having to be within a thousand miles of each other. That last part means you don’t have to attend a three-day conference in Florida just to talk to someone with years of experience in your field.
Instead, you can stay home, go online, and find out exactly how you can best apply those hours of preparation to perfecting the customer experience.