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Sue Harmsworth gives GWS masterclass webinar on the spa and wellness industry in the age of COVID-19
By Liz Terry 29 Apr 2020
Sue Harmsworth gave a masterclass for the Global Wellness Summit webinar series
Spa and wellness icon, Sue Harmsworth has given a masterclass as part of the GWS webinar series.

Speaking to 630 people from 99 countries via Zoom today (29 April), Harmsworth said: “This is almost a war situation – we need to work harder than we’ve ever done and listen to the consumer as we adapt our businesses to the new reality.”

Harmsworth said the upcoming availability of easy, fast, cheap COVID-19 testing will be the key to success – if staff and clients can be checked each time they come in, then the spa can become a safe space.

Couple this with hospital-grade cleaning and hygiene and sterilisation protocols with things like UV light, as well as the use of PPE, and Harmsworth said operators will then have a viable proposition to market to consumers.

No discounting
With the additional expense involved with these COVID-related interventions, she said spas could justify holding their rates rather than discounting, so long as they explained this to customers: “We must sell our air quality, our hygiene standards and then we can hold prices and protect staff at the same time,” she explained.

Harmsworth said in spite of these increased hygiene interventions, older people with health issues might avoid spas, but those under 30 would be far less concerned and would be more confident to venture out. She suggested businesses take this into account in terms of targeting their product development and marketing at younger age groups in the immediate post-lockdown period.

She also advised slimming down spa menus to accommodate the more complex delivery, as services that require close contact will not be so popular with consumers for some time, including massages and facials.

She recommended spas increased the proportion of offerings on spa menus where customers remain clothed, such as Thai massage and assisted stretching. “Pick the things you can deliver without close touch,” she said.

Online retail
Harmsworth recommended using the shutdown to strengthen the online retail offer to create new revenue streams to strengthen the business, saying: “Consumers who can’t get to the spa are spending more on online retail and you can take advantage of this.”

She said she did not expect the long-haul travel market to recover anytime soon and said spa and wellness businesses need to cultivate customers from their local community as an alternative to inbound tourists or business travellers.

Medical spas and clinics will have a huge advantage in the eyes of the consumer, said Harmsworth, due to the trust they engender. Other more generalist spa and wellness businesses would be advised to add medical options, such as diagnostics, as well as offering clinical aesthetics.

Immune boosts
She said all services relating to immune strength and lung capacity and function would be popular, including things such as the use of hyperbaric chambers.

When we come out of the lockdown, Harmsworth said there will be a hunger for fundamental beauty and maintenance services, such as manicures and pedicures, and recommended businesses gear up to deliver these services.

She said customers are likely to have a range of mental health issues around grief and recommended operators should use the shutdown to upskill staff and prepare them for these challenges by teaching them skills around empathy, so they can better look after customers.

When asked about the likely timeline for disruption, Harmsworth said she expects COVID-19 to impact business for 18 months to two years and that we will see business casualties and that “a lot of overleveraged businesses will go bust.”

Ultimately she said her dream is that the world works towards a new focus on prevention and holistic approaches and that this reaches right across all demographics.

She closed by saying that we must guard against there being a blame game between nations with COVID-19 so we can work towards creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.

She also called on the industry to step up and be creative in tackling the challenges ahead: “Think completely out of the box” she said, “it isn’t going to be like it was before.”



News
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02 Jul 2020
Planning permission has been submitted for a naturally filtered thermal experience and botanical spa and wellbeing hub on a dutch barge moored in West India Quay, London. Conceptualised by bodywork therapist Nico Thoemmes, the Water ... More
01 Jul 2020
As a wave of spas reopen around the world, it’s clear the industry is going to need to be creative to cater to new consumer needs which will likely focus on prioritising health. In light ... More
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The UK spa, beauty and wellness industry is in uproar following a recent Prime Minister’s Question time where the urgent matter of reopening the sector reduced MPs to laughter. William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove ... More
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Kathryn Moore, founder of Spa Connectors, has announced the launch of the Hall of Wellness Awards (HOW Awards) to recognise those excelling in their fields in the global spa, beauty and wellness industry. The awards ... More
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Italian destination spa, Borgo Egnazia, has reopened to guests and updated its popular Happiness Break to begin at home, with a new set of pre-arrival digital consultations and classes. Borgo Egnazia’s team of therapists has ... More
30 Jun 2020
The UK Spa Association (UKSA) is urging industry members to lobby the government for a reopening date by sending letters directly to the Prime Minister and their local MPs. The trade body has worked alongside ... More
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Almost half of all public health and fitness, leisure and community facilities in the UK, including swimming pools and leisure centres with gyms, will close by the end of the year unless councils get a ... More
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The Northern Ireland Executive has announced that spas can reopen on 6 July, as part of a statement detailing a range of measures to lift lockdown restrictions. “Today we have reached the next rung in ... More
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Sue Harmsworth gives GWS masterclass webinar on the spa and wellness industry in the age of COVID-19
POSTED 29 Apr 2020 . BY Liz Terry
Sue Harmsworth gave a masterclass for the Global Wellness Summit webinar series Credit: ESPA
Spa and wellness icon, Sue Harmsworth has given a masterclass as part of the GWS webinar series.

Speaking to 630 people from 99 countries via Zoom today (29 April), Harmsworth said: “This is almost a war situation – we need to work harder than we’ve ever done and listen to the consumer as we adapt our businesses to the new reality.”

Harmsworth said the upcoming availability of easy, fast, cheap COVID-19 testing will be the key to success – if staff and clients can be checked each time they come in, then the spa can become a safe space.

Couple this with hospital-grade cleaning and hygiene and sterilisation protocols with things like UV light, as well as the use of PPE, and Harmsworth said operators will then have a viable proposition to market to consumers.

No discounting
With the additional expense involved with these COVID-related interventions, she said spas could justify holding their rates rather than discounting, so long as they explained this to customers: “We must sell our air quality, our hygiene standards and then we can hold prices and protect staff at the same time,” she explained.

Harmsworth said in spite of these increased hygiene interventions, older people with health issues might avoid spas, but those under 30 would be far less concerned and would be more confident to venture out. She suggested businesses take this into account in terms of targeting their product development and marketing at younger age groups in the immediate post-lockdown period.

She also advised slimming down spa menus to accommodate the more complex delivery, as services that require close contact will not be so popular with consumers for some time, including massages and facials.

She recommended spas increased the proportion of offerings on spa menus where customers remain clothed, such as Thai massage and assisted stretching. “Pick the things you can deliver without close touch,” she said.

Online retail
Harmsworth recommended using the shutdown to strengthen the online retail offer to create new revenue streams to strengthen the business, saying: “Consumers who can’t get to the spa are spending more on online retail and you can take advantage of this.”

She said she did not expect the long-haul travel market to recover anytime soon and said spa and wellness businesses need to cultivate customers from their local community as an alternative to inbound tourists or business travellers.

Medical spas and clinics will have a huge advantage in the eyes of the consumer, said Harmsworth, due to the trust they engender. Other more generalist spa and wellness businesses would be advised to add medical options, such as diagnostics, as well as offering clinical aesthetics.

Immune boosts
She said all services relating to immune strength and lung capacity and function would be popular, including things such as the use of hyperbaric chambers.

When we come out of the lockdown, Harmsworth said there will be a hunger for fundamental beauty and maintenance services, such as manicures and pedicures, and recommended businesses gear up to deliver these services.

She said customers are likely to have a range of mental health issues around grief and recommended operators should use the shutdown to upskill staff and prepare them for these challenges by teaching them skills around empathy, so they can better look after customers.

When asked about the likely timeline for disruption, Harmsworth said she expects COVID-19 to impact business for 18 months to two years and that we will see business casualties and that “a lot of overleveraged businesses will go bust.”

Ultimately she said her dream is that the world works towards a new focus on prevention and holistic approaches and that this reaches right across all demographics.

She closed by saying that we must guard against there being a blame game between nations with COVID-19 so we can work towards creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.

She also called on the industry to step up and be creative in tackling the challenges ahead: “Think completely out of the box” she said, “it isn’t going to be like it was before.”

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