- On May 11, 2020
Senior Corporate Director, Spa Operations,
Marriott International, Ritz-Carlton
FSA Board of Directors – Senior Director
Many of the “new normal” ways other business segments are responding to the crisis don’t apply to spa/salons. Working from home and seeing guests on Zoom meetings is not an option for our spas. Social distancing isn’t feasible either, at least not between the guest and the service providers. So along with assurances and best practices being reinforced and communicated to guests, business owners have the additional complexity of looking after their tribe while also keeping doors open. It’s going to be tough, but the FSA is looking to do what it does best – share and collaborate.
“First and foremost, you have to really scrutinize your existing sanitation procedures to make sure that the things you should already be doing daily are really happening.
“Then, you and your team must go into hyper drive mode, making absolutely sure all areas are wiped down and you wash hands after every guest,” “No water bottles or personal items at the station. Communication and visibility and consistency are all imperative. Your guests and your team have to see how seriously everyone in your organization is taking this responsibility to maintain the spa/salon as a safe sanctuary.”
Secondly, be sure you let guests know what you are doing to protect them. Communicate before, during and after the service.
BEFORE GUESTS VISIT THE SPA/SALON
What should you be doing during this time?
If you’ve already closed your business, then chances are you’ve posted on your online booking page, informing guests of your decision. Plan out your return with these strategies that will help you get your business back on its feet!
STAY IN TOUCH WITH GUESTS
Here’s a quick word of advice – if you’re not actively staying in touch with your guests, what happens when you reopen? Are you certain that these guests will come flocking back? You don’t necessarily have to befriend them but staying in touch during this time will make communication much more natural when you’re ready to reopen.
- Post neutral content: share pictures of your treatment transformations, industry-related memes, or anything else unrelated to the COVID-19 situation on your social media pages. Make sure that it doesn’t seem like denial but a way to take a break from the serious news.
- Get guests involved: on your fan pages, ask guests what their at-home beauty routines are, and share your own advice as well.
- Show them that you’re there: lets your guest know that you care about their wellbeing and mention that if they ever need to talk, that you’re there to hear them out. Send them links to well trusted wellness websites like “Zents Wellness Room” for breathing exercises, mediation and complimentary yoga and fitness classes.
- Send a personal letter to your local, loyal guests and members, with a great spa offer, thanking them for all their previous loyalty. Inform them of the changes you have made to your cleaning & sanitation standards, and how the safety of your guest and employee is your highest priority. Then you must follow through on your promise!
Team huddle first: Line ups!…..Be sure everyone on your team is comfortable and committed to your sanitation practices, spa guidelines and messaging around COVID-19, down to protocol for what happens if a guest (or a team member) arrives into the spa who appears to be ill. Add extra daily leadership meeting specifically dedicated to monitor COVID-19 status and respond to any issues with your leadership team.
Use every platform you can–email, social media, in-spa signage, on-hold messaging and more–to communicate how your spa is addressing COVID-19, and that the safety and wellness of your guests and associates is of the utmost concern.
Emphasize that you are closely monitoring and following national and local health and government guidelines and requirements, and that you will provide regular updates on any changes or additions to your practices as they occur.
Take the opportunity to reinforce that your business and your service providers are licensed and trained in strict sanitation guidelines that you follow every day and with every guest.
Be specific about the sanitation practices your spa follows regularly and detail any additional measure you are mandating within your spa. Spell out the steps your team will be taking, i.e. wiping down all door handles and front desk surfaces every hour, etc.
Communicate any service adjustments or pauses you may be making. For example, let guests know that you are removing product testers.
Confirm all appointments and use the opportunity to assure guests and reinforce the steps you are taking to keep them, your team and community protected.
Be flexible on your cancellation policy adjustments and be clear in asking guests who are not feeling well or feel they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to please reschedule the appointment.
DURING THE GUEST VISIT TO THE SPA
Theatre; Demonstrate and communicate the “hyper-drive” sanitation practices your business and team are following. Craft tent cards, mirror clings and other touchpoints that spell out protocol and tactics. Most important? Hold your team accountable for being consistent in DOING the required actions.
Create a comfortable, stress-free environment. While keeping things clean and healthy, and answering any questions a guest may have, coach your team to shift the focus on to the service. Most guests will welcome a mini spa “stay-cation” and break from world news stress.
When practical, make adjustments that support social distancing. Separate or reposition waiting area seating.
Ask the guests if they had a good experience in the spa and if yes, to please share! Encourage them to share that sentiment on their social media and tag the spa/salon.
Restock and rebook: Ask if they need to stock up on any beauty essentials or gifts for friends and family. If they are going out “less” they may consider the spa “more” for retail and gift options. Encourage them to rebook and explain if you have adjusted your cancellation policy to be more flexible.
Thank them for their business. Let them know their patronage matters.
TREATMENTS AND MENU
Using aromatherapy tea tree and elderberry within treatments for the anti-bacterial benefits could be popular etc. as well as all the clinical tools such as masks etc.
Add seminars to your menus for small groups, (ensure social practicing is in place) or can you offer virtually? (someone in your treatment team will be knowledgeable) Speak about prevention versus cure. Wellness needs to be a lifestyle, boosting our immune systems, instead of relying on the doctors once we are sick.
Add none touch treatments; example; Salt Chambers, Oxygen infusion (anything that’s immunity boosting) Scrub & Mud Slide; create a good looking salt scrub & mud table, have the guest work with an attendant to make their concoction and apply themselves, recommending them to spend time a short time in the sauna/steam before showering. (create a guidance laminated card). Charge a price for the experience and encourage retail for repeating the experience at home.
AFTER GUESTS VISIT THE SPA
Show gratitude. Thank them again, via email or text or whatever system you use. Acknowledging loyal guests is especially important in today’s environment. Let them know how much it means to you that they came to the spa and encourage them to return soon.
Promote ahead: Let guests know what you have planned next. If you’ve rescheduled events, or added promotions, let them know the details.
WHEN GUESTS CANCEL APPOINTMENTS OR AVOID THE SPA
Show compassion and invite them back. Tailor a message to go out to every client who cancels or misses an appointment. If it is your policy, explain that you’ve waived your standard cancellation fee in light of circumstances. Recap the safety and sanitation measures and best practices you are following. Express that you are looking forward to seeing them soon and will follow up with an update in the coming weeks. Consider offering an incentive or gift for their return visit.
Plan ahead for when the situation improves. Plan marketing and events that you can release to support summer and fall business drives. Consider focusing on “little luxuries” and creative “stay-cations” and more. The strategy is to stimulate and recapture any business as quickly and efficiently as possible.
WHAT ABOUT THE TEAM?
In addition to coping with new business realities related to downturns in spa traffic and guest visits as a result of COVID-19 and its economic impact, spa business leaders must also focus on supporting and communicating with spa associates, ensuring they feel as safe as possible, and always really listening/hearing their concerns, and fears. Our spa family are our most valuable asset, and we have to find a way to balance the genuine care for our tribe, while managing business expectations, and potentially making tough short-term and longer-term decisions related to staffing and locations.
We will all need to be flexible and adapt to what the business requires. That means coming up with appropriate, responsible ways for sick employees to be able to stay home, for instance, but also making compromises and pitching in where needed.
“We may need to reduce hours now, and later, when the virus and fears lift, some of us may need to work longer days,”. We just must see what happens, be smart, do what it takes and support each other.
Suzanne Holbrook I Senior Corporate Director I Spa Division
The Americas – Marriott International