Global Spas Are Part of a Powerful Eco-system

by Linda Harding Bond

…. the world has been hit with a pandemic, the magnitude of which has not been experienced before in our lifetime. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing financial strife across most industries and currently, there is no end in sight. Particularly hard hit has been the global spa and hospitality industry.

According to Chip Rodgers, President at the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Overall, the hotel industry expects 4 million jobs to be lost even if occupancy rates climb up to 30 or 35 % by the end of the year. A projected $355 billion decline in travel spending — transportation, lodging, retail, attractions, and restaurants will deliver an $809 million hit to the U.S. economy and cost 4.6 million travel-related jobs, says the U.S. Travel Association.

The global spa industry is reeling and coming to a grinding halt. Consumers are canceling trips. Wellness travel plans are being postponed. Local government regulations are closing non-essential businesses. And even if spas remain open, social distancing, guest fears of picking up the virus, and the safety of team workers mean the ability to generate revenue is nearly zero. How long can your spa survive given these realities?

Global spas are part of a powerful eco-system

Global spas are at the center of an eco-system that includes Consumers, the Travel Industry, Media and Public Relations, Government, Shareholders, and internal Team Members and Staff. The best strategies will factor each of these elements into the mission and goals of the spa.

Rupert Schmid, Co-CEO of Biologique Recherche stated- “Big exogenous shocks and personal illnesses lend themselves to personal reflection and deep introspection. Being exposed to fragility often leads to more empathy, to a greater ability to co-operate and to understand the need of others”. When this is all over, said Rupert, we’ll be more aware of three things:

(1) the need to co-operate,

(2) the necessity to substitute faceless consumerism with human interaction and

(3) the fact that things can go wrong very fast.

Jeremy McCarthy, Group Director of Spa & Wellness at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group shared an insightful piece on “Practical Optimism for Difficult Times”. This means accepting the difficult reality, while simultaneously imagining how things can get better.

It’s a great perspective. I spoke with an award-winning spa in America that continues to thrive even during the coronavirus crisis. Their secret sauce? E-commerce is currently their primary revenue stream. In the first two weeks after coronavirus hit the US, their online product sales tripled. Gift certificate sales remain robust although unlike in the past they are designated for products rather than services. This means staff will be compensated during this forced layoff. The spa continues to engage daily with clients and fans primarily on Instagram, posting pictures of their activities at home and how they’re filling their free time trying new skin and body treatments. The spa optimistically began accepting bookings this week beginning March 27. They are already booked 30 days in advance. Another top-flight spa is also expanding its online game. They are providing complimentary virtual consultations and virtual facials. To help boost conversions the spa is providing free shipping on all of their products.

There are some critical questions C-suite executives and global spa managers should be answering during this downtime. These include:

“How do we get to the level of this spa from where we are now?”

“How can we expand our reach to new generations of travelers?”

“What are we doing to make internal improvements in our systems and processes so that we can operate more efficiently and profitably?”

Post 1 of a 4 post series

First published: April 2020 Republished with permission

Linda can be contacted here

Leave a Reply