- On May 11, 2020
Director of Spa & Activities
Margaritaville Resort Orlando
FSA Advisory Board Member
It’s time to look into our future. As the saying goes, there is no better time to do that than the present. We are in an uncertain moment of our lives and this is about recognizing and thriving in this transition. In order to do that, one must distinguish where we are and where we want to be. It sounds simple but in reality it’s not as simple as it sounds. Let’s first identify where we are. Many of us in the spa world and the general population, are concerned about our future. There are definitely more questions than answers as we are figure out when we can reopen all our spa doors, how we will have to reshape SOP’s and with “social distancing” how accepted will our industry be until COVID19 has passed or at the very least be under control enough to provide consumer confidence about visiting our facilities. When shake hands are no longer acceptable how do we make our guests embrace the strong benefits of receiving a massage or getting a manicure. And how can do we navigate keeping our staff feeling safe as they provide services? Our industry has always been about health, wellness and relaxation. Now, touch and close proximity to each other can cause stress-making change necessary. To succeed we must evolve!
Here is good news though. Our industry is all about change. It is what we offer to our guests and clients when we ensure quality treatments to help empower them to reach their goals and changes they desire. It is also how we continually progress our offerings, as something new that we know will enhance our guests experience even further. Over recent years the spa industry has earned its reputation as being a tool towards wellness. The US has recognized the value of preventative medicine instead of reactive medicine towards healthier living, looking & feeling better as well as prolonging life expectancy. Even the word spa exemplifies change. Spa’s meaning is “health by water.” In other words, our industry is symbolic of water. If a wall or blockade forms around water, doesn’t it adapt to find other ways to either get around, though, or over the item blocking it? The same is true with the world of spa. That is the nature of our industry and why we always succeed. We adapt. It is not the first obstacle for our industry and surely won’t be the last. We’ve grown from massage parlors to a billion dollar industry.
So we’ve established that change is needed and that as an industry it is what we excel at. This is about identifying what needs to take place and how to make necessary changes. Now is the time to determine the pathway to success. That is all about observation. When I went to school for massage therapy there was an exercise that we did that really stuck with me. In this exercise, we took a trip and observed the people around us. Together as a team, we looked at each client, assessed their posture and gait, and worked at determining what kind of therapy would be best for them. We also discussed how we would educate each potential client on how to improve their life with focus on the areas that needed to be addressed and what could be accomplished. I carried this with me throughout my days as a therapist. I recognize the facsimile today in spa.
Let’s take a look at those we wish to serve and do our assessment. Today’s guest has been locked inside of a place for an extended period of time for their safety. Stress has been an everyday way of life, from wondering about the economy, to whether this pandemic is going to reach them or their loved ones. They feel disconnected. This guest has not had the opportunity to take care of themselves the way that they usually would have and they recognize that. In some instances, they have hindered their appearance for reasons of health. All of us have sanitized or washed our hands to the extent of extreme dryness. It has been a while since any of us have truly been able to let go. To do that would be a reward. Still, there are hesitations that prevent our guests from letting go. The two main issues are sanitation and safety. Many guests feel that at this moment offering luxury is sacrificial to their safety and wellbeing, placing them outside their comfort zone. Physical distancing has been encouraged and being outside of a certain distance is not recommended. They feel that they can’t have one with the other. It’s the job of our spa and our providers to clear the path and ensure people that they can feel comfortable that both treatments and safety is achievable.
To be successful, we have to assure people that spa and wellness is a necessity and not a luxury in the eyes of our guests. To accomplish that, in looking at the importance for our potential guests, we have to address all concerns while still being able to offer them those core needs that they feel they have lost. Sanitation has to begin at the forefront and exist throughout their experience till the end. The front desk should have proper scripting and tools to guide their guest and offer comfort in their presentation of the services performed to reassure all safety measures taking place. Pre-confirmed emails or calls should relay informative required details on their arrival. If a client is not feeling up to par for their spa experience, this should be addressed ahead of their arrival or upon their visit. The entry should be sanitized with emphasis on doorways and handles. A guest should sanitize their hands upon entry and staff should have protective gear available to them including partitions at the front desk to block out clients that may cough or sneeze, Providers should wear masks to protect themselves and their guests and gloves should be changed regularly and in front of the guest. Physical distancing should take place to include proper spacing in lockers and limited amounts of people per room. Guests should leave an area without it being sanitized. It is recommend to sanitize a workspace in front of a guest even if it means lengthening their treatment time to ensure safety procedures. Tools and implements should be in sterilized bags if possible. These actions will guarantee the guest comfort as well as having listed what steps we take to establish their safety.
All of these practices can be done easily and will insure guests to relax knowing they are safe and secure. We should also be attentive in making sure that everything is exhibited with a spa touch. This is about balance and it is our job to get creative in accomplishing that. Why can’t hand sanitation be performed as a ritual with hot disposable scented hand towels or followed by an aromatherapy lotion? Sprays with essential oils clarified as antibacterial placed on their robes or sprayed around their face can provide safety and offer a sense of security. Small portable halo generators can be placed under a massage table to promote better breathing while enhancing their experience. Add-ons or enhancements can be done to address some needs a client may have based on the recent COVID-19 outbreak, which has cause, so much uncertainty. The opportunities are endless, especially when we collaborate, exchange ideas and work together.
In conclusion, what is happening around us is not just a situation that prevents us from reverting to the way we used to operate our spas. It is actually allowing us to carve out a new way to be creative and have a hand in shaping our industry to come back stronger. The ideas previously stated are just a start and so much more can be offered. The spa industry is known for its creativity and forward thinking individuals. It is time to use that ingenuity to change COVID into conversion and gain that sense of accomplishment for ourselves and our staff in making the world a better place in spite of the circumstances. Personally, I am excited to see what we can and will do!