Is it Game Over?
At the start of this year, my focus was on Brexit and what implications it would have for the beauty and spa industry, especially in Ireland. Would it affect supply and would manufacturing and distribution relationships be disrupted or ended due to feasibility issues? It was a driving factor in many of the decisions that would have to be made in 2020. But now faced with the apocalyptic nature of COVID-19 and the reality of what we face not just as a business community, but as a generation – what has gone before, simply doesn’t matter anymore, the game has changed and normal rules don’t apply. In the business of spa and beauty, we are faced with new challenges and opportunities that will make and break many businesses. For spa and wellness operators, the business you go back to will play an important part in holistically rebuilding people, but you must now look closely at how your guest / client will now consume spa and identify where you need to adapt. There are many areas that will require rethinking and investment, here are a few that you can be working on now, while your doors are shut.
The True Meaning of Clean Beauty
As a marketing term, Clean Beauty, is everywhere, but forget product formulation for a minute and think how clean your beauty and spa treatments are, because this is what your clients and guests will want to know moving forward. While lock-down restrictions will eventually lift, life will not just pick up where it left off. Social distancing measures will likely stay in place indefinitely and people will be more aware than ever of personal space and third party hygiene measures, so where does this leave professional beauty and spa therapists? Solid and stringent hygiene protocols should have already beeen in place at salons and spas, long before any pandemic ensued. But now spa hygiene must be visibly demonstrated at every opportunity. Simple actions such as, rather than washing your hands before you receive your client in the room, ensure you do it in front of your client at the start of their treatment and guide them to do the same making it part of the ritual, similar to how feet cleansing / grounding actions signal the beginning of many rituals. Protective face masks are most likely going to become the norm, not the exception, for all treatments for both client and therapist. These measures should already be in place, but they now they must be highlighted and promoted as much as any new treatment or product, in order to help your client feel safe. Communicating hygiene procedures is vital, letting your clients know that simple things like how often sanitisation of tools, product, testers etc takes place, what happens towels and bedding after their treatment. Marketing and promoting these procedures to create confidence in your brand and services, will be as important as marketing your brand, it is now a core part of your brand identity – you need to reassure your clients and guests. So start planning now, how you will build consumer/client confidence in your services – people will be as focused on the safety of the treatment, as they will the results.
The Human Touch
Spa and beauty professionals have long understood the importance of human touch in their therapies. It not only physically connects a therapist with their client, but emotionally too. Our industry was founded on the principal of the healing human touch, so what do we do now when people are anxious and scared of the implications of what a therapist’s touch now means? Again, you have to build confidence, you have to demonstrate it is safe and we have to change how we market to our audience. Corona related PTSD is and will be a reality and we will all experience it in one form or another. As an industry, spa and wellness has seen a huge spike in growth and understanding in the last decade and will now more than ever play a vital role in rebuilding our people, our community and our generation. Spa and wellness services will be needed, but at what cost? We know we are heading into a recession and people are more mindful of their spending, so need to see real value in your offering. Value doesn’t always mean price, your service needs to bring value to the life of your guest. Spas need to be smart in how they approach and market their services, emotional wellbeing should be a central and collective marketing message, helping guests work towards this in a post Corona world, should be a primary focus. Initially people will be hesitant, when it comes to human contact, it feels strange writing that, but it is a very rational reaction considering our current reality. But once we adapt to our new normal (which will happen quicker than we think – look how much we have adapted in 6 weeks) spa and wellness will still have an important role to play and hotels should focus on integrating the value of spa throughout their whole experience, not just in the treatment room.
Turning Spa Digital
While the digital revolution happened a long time ago for many sectors, it didn’t really apply to the actual work of the spa therapist. Thankfully we haven’t yet realised a world where robots replaced therapists and technology overtook the treatment room. Human connection is at the heart of spa therapy and always should be – there are enough virtual and dystopian realities happening in the outside world. I have long advocated that the spa retail model should have fully embraced the world of e-commerce long ago. The importance of integrating e-commerce of your spa retail offerings into your overall hotel retail strategy, should no longer be ignored. None of us ever thought we would see the day where spas and hotels were forced to shut their doors indefinitely to keep guests and staff safe. But here we are and who knows how many times this response and action will become necessary in the new world. A strong digital sales strategy beyond social media should be a primary focus for spa and hospitality managers alike. You need to be able to sell more than rooms, treatments and gift vouchers online to keep your brand alive in an online society. If this is something you would like assistance or advice on please get in touch with me via the form below.
How your spa does business has changed in ways you never imagined, embarking on a digital transformation now, will help you stay relevant and visible to your target market in Spa 2.0.