Cope and hope: how to manage your spa business during coronavirus
It’s the question on most spa operators lips – how can their business, and the industry in general, cope with the coronavirus situation and come out the other side stronger than ever?
As part of World Spa & Wellness’s Virtual Spa Week, taking place March 29– April 3, we brought together the industry’s key operators to discuss this issue in a live situation room roundtable.
Chaired by Professional Beauty Group’s managing director Mark Moloney and Jean-Guy de Gabriac, WSWC conference producer and founder of World Wellness Weekend across two one-hour discussions, key solutions and valuable advice was shared to help you weather the Covid-19 storm.
Video: cope and hope situation room – part one
Video: cope and hope situation room – part two
Four key takeaways from the talks…
How should spa operators evaluate the needs of cash flow in these troubled times?
Jenya Di Pierro, chief executive and founder of Cloud Twelve (UK): “Variable costs should be brought down to a minimum, staff furloughed and rent extended. Negotiate payment holidays with anyone on a retainer and understand that everyone down the supply chain is eligible for the Government’s support schemes.”
Becky Woodhouse, chief executive of Pure Spa (UK): “Look at all costs and contact suppliers to suspend services or put them on the minimum. Be hard about what costs you need during shutdown. For example, we have suspended all but non-essential email accounts and switched to internet-only Office, saving more than £900 per month. Also, look at marketing costs that you can save on or suspend until back to normal.”
How should spa operators save costs yet care for their associates who are paid hourly and depend on tips?
Maggy Dunphy, director of spa and wellness operations Americas Hyatt (USA): “Our most valuable asset is our people, so whatever resources you have available to keep them ‘whole’ is where I would focus. Reach out to vendors and landlords and work with them to create payment plans so you can hold onto whatever resources you can. Many companies are also able to cover insurance premiums for several months; others are able to add a stipend to supplement unemployment.
“Perhaps you could hire staff for an hourly rate to so some painting [on their own] or other work around the spa, and provide them with the same information you’re using in your business to help them manage their personal situation – access to information on mortgage holidays, what landlords are doing, etc.”
How should spas stay in contact with clients during this time of closure?
Marina Efraimoglou, founder of Euphoria Retreat (Greece):“We need to replace the physical contact with virtual contact, but because there is so much going on digitally it’s important to not just jump on the bandwagon and be everything to everyone. You need to keep your spa’s DNA in all your communications. We’re launching free webinars of real value without a hidden agenda, covering all aspects of Euphoria’s methods.”
Dunphy: “It’s the small gestures of kindness and empathy that we do today that will make a big difference in our tomorrow. You know who your most loyal customers are and a phone call – any kind of voice connection – will go a long way. I would also send inspiring “just checking in on you” emails to clients with a number they can call to say hello.
“Also, ask if they need anything from your retail space and have it delivered to them; create videos sharing your expertise – from the stretches to do to reduce stress, to breathing and meditation exercises; and create a private spa page on Facebook for clients, members and associates to join, where they can post messages and images of ‘life’ right now, while also sharing messages of hope and healing.”
Erica Dangelo, spa director of Borgo Egnazia (Italy): “We’ve created Casa Egnazia digital platform where all employees are involved to create content in Pulian style to make our clients feel connected. The idea is to bring experiences to our guests homes. We also called most of our clients and sent them a package of orecchiette and tomato sauce with our pasta recipe. We’re also organising virtual live concerts.”
Woodhouse: “We’ve set up a Covid-19 FAQ page on our website to keep customers updated, including an email address which is checked daily and all queries responded to. We have extended all vouchers from 12 months to 24 months as well to give clients confidence in purchasing these gift cards.”
Anna Bjurstam, senior vice president of wellness at Six Senses (Sweden): “We have initiated #AtHomeWithSixSenses with daily Facebook Live meditations and other happenings. We’re also working on wellness tips on each of our pillars, such as sleep, nutrition and movement to help our community (clients and staff) stay healthy and positive.”
How have you adapted your spa’s social media strategy during this time?
Dangelo: “We’re still publishing our regular editorial plan but avoiding all posts with a call to action connected to visiting us.”
Bjurstam: “The science of what we knew about social media behaviour is out the window right now. We’re on new ground, so we're doing a lot of trial and error. Our reach and engagement on social media has been amazing and we are continuing to expand our #AtHomeWithSixSenses campaign and being very agile in our response to how people interact with us.”