Taking 10 with...Jean-Guy de Gabriac

Taking 10 with...Jean-Guy de Gabriac

Sunday 29th July 2018

By Michelle Hammond

Q1 - How did your childhood influence your work ethic and attitude towards business?

When I was 14, I visited the castle of Bedford in the UK and saw in their museum a royal seal saying: “thank you for a job well done”. This left a deep impression on me,  always eager to go above and beyond to deliver on promises. “Good enough” never is, especially in the highly competitive industry that Hospitality & Spa is. Team cannot aim at simply getting clients “satisfied”, we need to “enchant” them!

Q2 - What do you believe the principles of a successful business are today?

Focusing on concept, positioning, marketing to attract new clients is NOT enough. CEOs should be CIOs: Chief Inspiring Officers, in order to have an impact on the GASF of their team: “Give A Shit Factor”. As a consultant & educator specialised in elevating guest experience, I guarantee that excellence is reached by teams who are lead, not managed; inspired, not motivated; empowered, not compensated.

Q3 - Looking back, what was your best business decision?

In 2001, after 10 years working in entertainment, I earned a bonus from the psychology & wellbeing start-up where I was Marketing & Sales Manager after a raise in capital. As I saw the internet bubble exploding I asked myself what I really wanted to do with this cash-flow. I invested in a massage institute near the Champs-Elysées and took evening classes in Shiatsu. In 2004, I felt it was time to sell my shares and fly on my own as a consultant, that’s when I founded TIP TOUCH and started traveling the world to experience, learn, and raise the bar in the strategy & spa operations of cosmetic brands, hotel groups & iconic properties. Best business decision in my life.

Q4 - Who has influenced you the most through your career?

I never had a proper mentor, this is why I was so passionate in developing the Global Mentorship Program of the Global Wellness Institute since 2015. Mentorship has transformed the lives of so many mentees and mentors across 30 countries since then. We rise by lifting others. So grateful for the chance that Anna Bjurstam & Susie Ellis gave me at the time.

Q5 - What was your most difficult / worst business decision?

Nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship needs constant attention, on both parts. After doing everything I could to grow a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship, I felt that we were going to crash the company over different strategic views. The healthiest, yet hardest decision was to walk away from a toxic relation and start again.

Q6 - What would you say was the single most advantageous character trait for success?

I once saw a graffiti that said “Dream but do not sleep”. Dreams become achievable objectives with willpower and persistence. If the traditional paved road is not heading in the direction of your dream or your vision, then create your own path and follow your gut feeling: often the microbiome pre-senses what the brain analyses a moment later.

Q7 - What happens when you’re stressed or overwhelmed?

Unmistakably this happens when I have been sleep-deprived for a few weeks, or on the road for too long. That’s when I slow down, look around, look within, get some rest to reassess and recharge.

Q8 - How do you invest in your own wellbeing. How do you look after yourself?

When I am home, I practice yoga every morning for 20 minutes with my cat (Daisy) purring by my side. On the road, I squeeze in 10 minutes of stretching, and I walk to discover the city. I also receive regular massages, especially Thai Nuad Bo Rarn which feels like a partner yoga session with great stretches.

Q9 - If you could change one thing about the spa and wellness industry what would it be and why?

There is too much Yang, not enough Yin. Too much bling, not enough essence. Owners and GMs should invest less money on the shining EGO aspect of their property (design, marketing, or PR over-using trendy words). They ought to dedicate more resources on the true CHARACTER and the ANIMA (soul) of the Spa: their team. More on-going education should be implemented to help associates grow and bloom. Guests are increasingly savvy and often have a more extensive “spa culture” than some of the new associates.

Three keys to a profitable business are:

1. REPEAT business, not just new clients

2. Being able to charge above market price for a transformational experience that is either exclusive or hard to match.

3. A solid, confident team caring for guests and for each other. Too often, spas are over-built, understaffed, under-capitalized, under-educated, therefore managers spend too much time hiring & firing, associates are disheartened, not engaged, punching hours.

To hone the first & second key, ownership & managers need to secure the third key. Spas should not just be havens of relaxation & rejuvenation for guests, they HAVE to be places of personal development & professional growth for associates. As a member of the jury of the World Spa & Wellness Awards since 2014 I have clearly seen that award-recipients are spas with a soul, with associates who are happy & proud to serve and make a difference in people’s lives (guests & associates).

Q10 - Finally, what’s your favourite quote or the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Fall in love... Stay there.” – Rumi

1. What’s your favourite book?

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

2. What’s your favourite film of all time?

Risky Business

3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

Gandhiji, Steve Jobs

4. You get taken to your favourite place to be, where are you taken?


5. Your perfect dinner is?

With my wife, and my two daughters if they are in town. Something simple with a view.

6. Your go to drink is?

Green tea by day, Cold pressed juices at lunch, Gin tonic on certain occasions.

7. Your favourite sweet treat is?

A chocolate Merveilleux

8. What’s your favourite essential oil / scent?


9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why?

Deep tissue when it is really well done, Thai Nuad Bo Rarn (my longest in Berlin was 3 hours... ahhhh heaven), or Shiatsu. I love it when trigger points & acupressure points are addressed with the appropriate pressure.

10. What’s your favourite flower?

Sunflower (just look at them turn their head to follow the sun... amazing)

11. You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?

Total darkness, earplugs.

12. You want to energize fast, what do you do?

Listen to Hans Zimmer.

13. The theme tune to your life is?

“Your song” by Billy Paul, Hotel California & Desperado are my 3 favorites.

14. What’s your favourite season?

Indian Summer.
15. What’s your favourite colour?

Turquoise blue

16. Your favourite time of day is?

Sunrise or Sunset with glorious colours in the sky.

17. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what / who would you be?

A musician to help people enter the Flow through vibrational healing
18. What’s your current TV guilty secret?

Too much time on Netflix, not enough on TED talks :-).

20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it?

Fly at first, then teleport, like Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.

Jean-Guy de Gabriac, is an award-winning Spa & Wellness strategist & educator specialised in designing & implementing Signature guest experiences, and Wellness programs for Spas, Hotels & Cosmetic brands since 2001. Jean-Guy serves as Chair of the Global Mentorship Program; Founder of the World Wellness Weekend (elevating wellness in +60 countries on Sept 22 & 23, 2018); Judge of the World Spa & Wellness Awards and Conference Producer of the World Spa & Wellness Convention London.

Learn more about Tip Touch

Learn more about the Global Mentorship Program

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