Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks
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Tackling the C-Word

Together 4 ladies

- By Helena Grzesk 

 

The announcements on 20th March, that our spas must close the doors to their guests and to their teams sent shock waves through our industry, as it did so many others. In under 24 hours, many of you had to react and prepare to close-up your business for the immediate future; certainly not forever, but with an unknown path ahead and so many questions left unanswered. Only a matter of days later the UK lockdown announcement followed, with a direct instruction for us to ‘stay at home’ so we can work together as a nation to combat coronavirus. 

In the face of adversity, we pressed the pause button on our businesses to protect our loved ones and our communities, but we remain strong; we stand side by side supporting each other through these challenging times and we will come out of this stronger together.  

It is time for the UK spa industry to stand up and be counted. We will be front line in supporting the NHS, now more than ever before. The spa and wellness industry will be crucial to the mental, physical and emotional health, wellbeing and recovery of this country as we propel through and beyond Covid-19. 

As we speed hastily through week 4 of lock-down, I thought I would take the time to reflect a little on the challenges so far and consider how we as an industry are tackling the C-word. 

In times such as these, filled with uncertainty, it is so easy for us to get caught up in the waves of our less rational thoughts and feel like we are swimming upstream, being tossed by the tides; that’s a totally understandable reaction to what we are experiencing at the moment. There are days when many of us feel like we’re treading water, just managing to keep our heads above the surface, just enough to breathe; but we can’t sustain feeling this way for too long. It is time to harness the flow of our energy.

Our next step is to begin to find our inner balance again, and we will do. It might feel impossible at times to keep our feet firmly on the sand and to be grounded, but we can do this. The rational brain is responsible for our ability to reason through various options, for the ability to think outside the box, to think critically; and supports us in arriving at a rational decision and that is what we need to start to do now. Listen to your intuition. 

We are an industry bursting at the seams with caring, incredible individuals whose natural instincts are to help others. Even when faced with such adversity, the community and togetherness of this sector; the support that you have for each other is truly overwhelming. As your trade association, we felt strongly that we wanted to provide you with this safe space to stay connected and have that support network and togetherness with your peers to dip in and out of, as and when you feel you need it. 

Bringing so many of you together over the past few weeks through our online spa director and spa supplier assemblies, we have witnessed first-hand the compassion, courage and remarkable resilience that we have as an industry. Our spa community is stronger than ever as we walk the path of transformation that awaits us. And like the true leaders and innovators of change that we are, we will be ready. We are preparing for the change that is coming; and we will stand together to support the mental health and wellbeing of our communities when we can safely open our doors again. 

I applaud your kindness, strength and sheer determination to rise above the challenges as we begin to adapt to the dramatically changing landscape that we face. 

How can we now provide clarity of the benefit of what we do; and build confidence with the wider non-spa consumer that visiting a spa isn’t a luxury or a treat, but something that is widely accessible in some way to all?  

We should embrace this time of disconnect to reconnect. Consider what the new spa and wellness business model will look like. What will the ‘new’ consumer be seeking? What will their expectation be? How can we best share our knowledge and expertise to educate the nation on how to ‘be well’?

It is important that we are considering all aspects of evolution within our future business. What will the new blueprint of a spa look like in 6, 12, 18- or 24-months’ time? Challenge yourself to look at all aspects of the business. Alternative non-contact spa offerings, group activities observing social distancing, additional services such as life coaching, mindfulness, learning and development, spiritual and emotional wellbeing, resilience, sound healing, nutrition, virtual fitness and memberships; there are so many elements that you can consider. 

What additional hygiene measures will you implement to further protect the safety of your team and your guests? You might be considering if you will introduce the use of additional PPE for your therapist team as we are already seeing in some other countries. Will you devise an awareness campaign to support you to re-build consumer confidence and encourage bookings?

Review your customer journey, you might need to start think about how you will manage the flow of your guests, broadening arrival times and spacing within your public areas. How will that impact on your customer service? Will you review your occupancy levels, the positioning of your equipment in the gym, numbers of guests you allow in your group exercise or group wellness classes? How will you adapt how you serve you food and beverage offerings?  

Develop a commercial strategy to deliver robust, consumer focused campaigns pre-opening and post-opening to support revenue generation. It’s vital that you continue to develop and build your brand. Liaise with your marketing teams to have a well thought out, structured plan to deliver revenue through your various channels. Speak to your spa partners and brands find out what new initiatives they are planning and how they can support you. Don’t wait until you re-open, plan now. 

How will your labour model differ when you re-open? Maybe you will see a reduction in the use of casual therapists or agency staff in the initial weeks and months. Have you thought about how you will adapt your core team to meet the demands of your new look business? 

It is the time for you to step up and be the leader in your life; to lead your business and lead your team. Embrace this opportunity to reset. Unleash your creativity and be certain to have some fun with it too. Design a mood board, draw upon your hearts true desire, set intentions, brainstorm and tap into the limitless ability of blue-sky thinking free of pre-conceptions of the way things are meant to be. The possibilities are endless. Have the courage to step a little further out of your comfort zone and get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

I could continue to talk about this for pages and pages, but I think you get my point, so I will leave it here for now. I really hope that this helps you, even just a little to go away and think about how you can impact the positive changes that are needed in your business for the future. 

Now, I realise that I don’t need to remind you that we at the UK Spa Association are here to support you. If you haven’t already, sign up to our on-line spa operator or spa supplier assemblies and join the conversation with your peers. We are stronger together and we will get through this. We are your spa community.

Stay safe, be well and look after YOU.

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Sunday, 25 October 2020