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Webinar highlights: leadership and adapting as a brand in a COVID-19 landscape

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The Spa Business team has rounded up four recent Webinars you may have missed to give some insights into how the wellness industry is adapting in these unprecedented times. This week, topics of discussion included the importance of leadership, how brands are adapting the consumer-experience and advice on navigating financial challenges brought on by COVID-19.

Lisa Starr shares her takeaways from some of the latest webinars from the spa and wellness, hospitality and beauty industries.

Conscious Leadership in the Spa and Wellness Industry

Moderated by Tara Grodjesk of Tara Spa Therapy, with speakers including Patty Field of Marriott, Bonnie Baker of Satteva, Sharon Otaguro from TPO WELLth Coaching, and Maggy Dunphy, Hyatt

Sub-titled “Feminine Wisdom,” this panel of passionate females aimed to focus more on the mental state of leaders as we get back to work. As Grodjesk said, there are plenty of solutions relating to operational protocols and what solutions and supplies we need as we reopen our spa and wellness facilities. The speakers wanted to focus on “the space we are in within ourselves, and stepping forward in a conscious way.”

Field began by saying that she wanted to focus on the psychological aspect of returning to work: “You need to be grounded yourself to lead a team successfully. It’s important to create a situation for staff members so that when they return, they can feel comfortable expressing their feelings.”

Baker commented that one of her mentors said to think about leadership like a dinner party: “You think about the menu, ingredients, music, timing and guest list.” With respect to health and wellness in spas, Bonnie thinks about who she wants at the table: “It’s easy to get lost in the discussion of male and female power roles, but the idea of conscious leadership incorporates qualities of both masculine and feminine which, if they were truly understood, would make the gender equality issues easier to balance out.”

“Think about this time not to be a season of wasting, but of generating the seed” shared Otaguro. “When your team comes back, you don’t know what you’re going to do, but you can know who you’re going to be, which will magnetise them to you.”

Dunphy concluded: “We have all of this planning and preparing to do, but we have to do it with intention and courage.”

To catch up on the webinar, click here.

View from the CSuite – Brand Leaders Discuss the Road to Recovery Speakers: Jim Alderman, Radisson Hotels; John Cohlan, Margaritaville Hotels and Resorts; David Kong, Best Western; Scott Lepage, Wyndham; and John Russell, Red Lion; moderated by Christina Trauthwein, Hotel Business/Inspire Design editor-in-chief

This was an uplifting conversation from the leaders of five hotel companies representing over 16,000 hotel properties globally. It took place just after the US Memorial Day three-day weekend, and they reported their results.

The smaller Margaritaville brand, with 20 units in ‘drive-to’ markets, reported 100 per cent occupancy across the portfolio, with no rate discount, great news. Just to qualify – that 100 per cent figure is reflective of diminished availability of rooms due to distancing guidelines and local regulatory requirements, but still great news. The other brands on the call reported better than expected occupancy also, some also in the 90 per cent range.

When it comes to rate, most brands are holding steady, despite having less to offer. Alderman shares there is guest concern about the escalation of costs due to additional cleaning and sanitising procedures, but they’re holding steady. Russell adds that guests will initially accept surcharges, but these should not be added into the rate, cautioning: “let’s not gouge the guest, it will come back to haunt us.”

Features such as self-check-in, mobile check-in, digital room keys and mobile concierge platforms were already being rolled out at many of these brands, and that will only accelerate now.

Properties are “de-cluttering” rooms by removing previously available items such as pens, writing pads, and telephones, and housekeeping is in many cases no longer an expected, daily occurrence. Some of these items are still available, but on request only. LePage comments that a year ago, housekeeping was something they tried to keep out of eyesight of the guest, but now it will be front and center in all areas of the properties.

There was also a discussion of changes in food and beverage delivery; most of these hotels offered free breakfast pre-COVID. For the time being, there are no buffets, strictly grab-and-go and pre-packaged options. Russell opines that this may not be permanent, but it’s difficult to say now.

The group spoke to the power of brands at being able to articulate a vision and maintain communications with the guests through the pandemic time. They’re all using social media, brand websites, loyalty programs and PR.

Red Lion’s Russell advised: “Be frequent, consistent and transparent. Stimulate conversations and encourage guests and franchisees to call and communicate.”

To watch the webinar, click here.

DTC Founder Roundtable: From Disruption to Mainstream, by BeautyMatter

Moderator Kelly Kovack. Panellists – Tina Hedges, Loli Beauty; Matthew Herman, Boy Smells; Josh LeVine, Oli Walsh, Asystem and Monique Hoell, Hello Body

These founders of Direct to Consumer beauty brands discussed how COVID-19 has affected their businesses, and the rethinking and adapting of the consumer experience, as well as their customer acquisition and retention strategies.

Kovack began by noting that while digitally native brands don’t have the same COVID-19 related issues that brick and mortar brands do, they’re already evolving away from a ‘growth at all costs’ model to one that could demonstrate profitability. For many of them, the pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise; as distribution channels shut down, many of the niche online players were able to gain attention, followers and sales, with some brands reporting holiday-like volume, with revenue far exceeding those of April 2019.

However, it was not all smooth sailing; many of these brands also experienced technology and supply chain issues that may have impeded their growth potential.

Each of the brands involved had some positive results from the pandemic, some of which may stick. Loli began manufacturing hand sanitizer, not a product they’d ever previously considered, but now she believes consumers will want a product that provides germ-killing in a safe and sustainable way.

Boy Smells was able to introduce two new candles which exceeded sales expectations, without anyone having the chance to smell them first. Hello Body’s natural skincare brand is big in Europe, and the fragmentation in that market turned out to be advantageous for the brand; markets like France and Italy that were affected by the virus still demonstrated good growth. The founders also shared their various methods of attracting and building their communities in the online marketplace, while defining their brands.

To watch the webinar, follow this link.

Accounting and Financial Reporting: Navigating COVID-19 Challenges – eCornell

Moderator, Mary Macausland, Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Speakers – Tom Gerth, KPMG, Larry Kaminsky, Fulcrum Hospitality; Ralph Miller, Integrated Hospitality Management and Dilip Petigara, Access Point Financial

This collection of experts in the world of accounting as it relates to hospitality weighed in on strategies for managing financials in the near term for hotel properties, from both the asset manager and lender perspectives. Both sides cited this event as an “avalanche” of accounting issues the likes of which they had never dealt with. From assisting hotel clients with debt negotiations to advising ongoing concern evaluations, impairment, furlough accounting and tax issues related to the CARES act, the financial folks have their hands full.

When asked how the banks are working with their hotel clients, Petigara said it’s about openness, honesty and communication: “We all understand this is a global health crisis, and being on the front lines in the travel industry, our customers are feeling it deeply.

“Within the first week, some of our portfolio reached out to us, they had gone from 70 per cent to 10 per cent occupancy almost overnight,” he said. Many hotels are seeking extensions or deferments of 90 days, at which point both sides can reevaluate.

Kaminsky’s closing thoughts: “The industry is not dead, just dealing with an ever-changing landscape. We need to stay ahead, and prepare our hotels for re-emergence, it will be an interesting summer!”

To watch the webinar, follow this link.

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The Spa Business team has rounded up four recent webinars you may have missed to give some insights into how the wellness industry is adapting in these unprecedented times. This week, topics of discussion included the importance of leadership, how brands are adapting the consumer-experience and advice on navigating financial challenges brought on by COVID-19.

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