Virtual Spa Week: how spas should prepare for reopening after coronavirus

Andrew Gibson, Amanda Al Masri and Chris Kiefer share their wisdom on how spas should prepare for reopening, as part of Professional Beauty’s Virtual Spa Week


Virtual Spa Week kicked off on Monday and has been bringing together spa professionals from around the world to share support and advice during the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Spa & Wellness Convention (WSWC) was due to take place on March 29-30 in London but sadly had to be postponed until October 11-12, due to the outbreak.

But many of the speakers lined up for the original dates – plus a host of additional spa experts – are joining us virtually this week instead to make sure spas don’t miss out on all the business-boosting sessions we had lined up.

On Wednesday, Andrew Gibson, senior vice president of Sensei Holdings; Amanda Al Masri, founder of Al-Masri Consulting; and Chris Kiefer, founder of Rayya Wellness, discussed “Reset and restart: strategies to prepare your re-opening, chaired by Professional Beauty managing director Mark Moloney and Jean-Guy de Gabriac, World Spa & Wellness conference producer and World Wellness Weekend founder.

What should spa operators be doing right now to prepare for reopening after coronavirus?

Gibson points out that the style and response of leadership is going to define those companies best positioned to succeed post coronavirus pandemic.

He asserts that cash is king, in that turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is reality as it pays the bills, keeps the staff and puts food on the table. Therefore, he says, it’s vital we focus on cash right now. “Be transparent and honest. All stakeholders (owners, directors, banks, landlords and employees are aware of the situation). How and what you communicate can engage these parties to help however they can,” he says.

He also says it is vital to put a three, six and nine-month plan in place now. “Prepare contingencies for each scenario so that you are able to communicate and answer questions. Examples are company voluntary pay cuts rather than redundancies, rent breaks and refinancing options with the banks,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Al Masri emphasises the importance of choosing the right time to reopen.  “Just because you can,  doesn’t necessarily mean you should,” she says. “Be mindful that every market, brand and consumer is different.  What’s right for the spa in the next country, city and even across the street isn’t necessarily what’s right for you and your guests.  Don’t re-open without carefully considering the when, why and how.” This, she says should include your financial situation, predicted demand and staff availability.
 
Kiefer says that it’s important right now to focus on team training and morale, finding things that you can do remotely to keep your staff engaged.

Prepare remote training plans, he suggests, asking your operations managers and training managers to take lead.

“Focus on keeping morale up,” he adds. “Be a counsellor, listen to your staff, and emphasise on the fact that their jobs are safe, providing you are confident in that fact.”

Andrew Gibson, senior vice president of Sensei will be discussing the leadership skills needed to make it through coronavirus on Thursday 16 April at 3pm. See the full line-up and sign up to participate in all the free spa webinars here.