How the Spa Industry is Dealing with Coronavirus

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) named COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) a global pandemic, which is defined as when a new virus (such as SARS-CoV-2, or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which causes COVID-19/Coronavirus) for which people do not have immunity spreads beyond world expectations. While we already know social distancing and self-quarantine are our greatest chances at combatting the spread of the quickly evolving virus, we also know that for many, anxiety and loneliness are at an all-time high.

As an industry that prides itself on making clients look and feel their best but also comes into direct, close contact with the public, what can we do to make sure our clients feel at ease, our businesses don’t suffer, and most importantly, employees and guests alike remain healthy and safe? For starters, follow your local, state, and federal guidelines. Fortunately, for those not in a high-risk category, the disease is not fatal, and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the risk for most of the U.S. is still low-to-medium. If your area is not yet hard-hit by the virus and you feel your spa has the option to remain open and function, there are precautions you can take to make sure business continues as usual.

“Don't be afraid,” says Denise Fuller, licensed esthetician and cofounder of the National Aesthetic Spa Network (NASNPRO). “Fear and stress decrease your immune system. Just be wise and take precautions.” Fuller suggests creating a checklist and having spa staff routinely disinfect the list of  items throughout the day (while wearing single-use gloves each time) with an EPA-approved disinfectant. The list should include:

  • Front desk
  • Credit card machine, computer keyboards, phone, pens
  • Doorknobs and door handles—be sure to clean both sides so clients enter and exit touching a clean surface
  • Common area surfaces, racks, shelves
  • Bathroom, including the toilet flush handle
  • Equipment such as hot cabinets, steamers, magnifying lamps, inside nail dryers and drying lamps, the refrigerator, laundry machines, baskets, and garbage bins 
  • Bottles, including shampoo, hairspray, skincare, essential oils, massage creams, body exfoliants, and nail polishes, plus, clean shampoo bowls and disinfect the neck of the bowl after each client
  • Hair, wax, and nail stations
  • Esthetic and massage rooms
  • Chairs and all seating areas
  •  Employee lockers and lunchroom

Some spa professionals argue that if you’ve been properly cleaning your spa all along, not much will have to change to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. “We have applied these standards for over 15 years,” says Ke Norman, cofounder of Nailphoria Day Spa (Oakland, CA). “You must be proactive with daily after-care cleaning services for your clients. You should always clean and disinfect all implements as well as furniture and equipment used. If you maintain these standards, your deep cleaning routines will be easy.”

According to Steve Sleeper, executive director of the Professional Beauty Association, spas and salons should consider waiving any cancellation fees in places that penalize guests for missing their appointment. This will encourage guests who are not feeling well to actually stay home. While it might feel like your spa or salon is taking a financial loss, in this case the risk outweighs the reward, should you or a client contract the virus. “Our top concerns are the health and wellness of the individuals in the industry, their clients, and customers, as well as the potential economic impact on the salons and licensed beauty professional,” says Sleeper. “Aside from maintaining health as the most integral priority, we want to help ensure that the salon world is minimally impacted economically."



It’s important to communicate to both your staff and clients alike the precautions your spa is taking to prevent the spread of any wintertime illnesses

Email blasts are a great way to reach clientele who might not be coming into the spa at the moment. For example, the popular wax franchise European Wax Center recently sent out an email with the subject line “COVID-19 and the EWC Community.” Within the email, the company outlined ways it is working to keep its clients healthy, including the use of stainless steel tools that are soaked in Barbicide; new bed paper for each guest; the use of individual waxing sticks, brow brushes, spoolies, wax stir sticks; and more. This info is also listed in a drop-down tab on the European Wax Center website, for those not subscribed to emails. 

The Spa Girl Cocktails brand sent an eblast with the subject line “Actions We Are Taking Around Coronavirus Outbreak,” which featured how the brand is changing its in-store policies (no more consumer tastings) to in-office policies (the option for employees to work remotely).

If you're looking for what to say in your emails, take a look at what Tribeca MedSpa (multiple locations in New York City) sent their clientele earlier this week. Remember, communication is key in times of crisis.

Business Ventures

Some beauty and wellness businesses are refusing to let Coronavirus affect their bottom line. In response to the outbreak and the lack of sanitation products available for consumers, KM Herbals has launched new wellness products for consumers and wholesalers, available in individual, backbar, and private-label quantities. The new collection features hand sanitizer, hand soap, and aromatherapy spray. “From the moment the potential impact of this virus was understood, our team knew this needed to be a priority.” says Bonnie Campbell, director of marketing at KM Herbals. “Our founder, Kim Manley, reminded us that, ‘we have the products that can help people—it’s what we do.’ Her conviction and determination to make these effective and accessible during a time of need inspired the KM Herbals team to work with resolve toward that end.”

To further engage clients that might be hesitant to visit her wellness center, Nikki Ostrower, founder of Nao Wellness (New York City) is offering 45-minute remote Immune System Boosting sessions designed to address clients’ immune systems and prepare for the growing concerns of Coronavirus as well as Remote Reiki options. In the Immune System Boosting sessions, clients learn how to strengthen their immune systems, tools for destressing, a shopping list for healthy foods and where to get them, and more. 

For those in well enough health to travel, The Stanford Inn and Resort (Mendocino, CA) is offering travelers the opportunity to escape the constant Coronavirus anxiety and focus on what they can do to help prevent the spread instead with a new Immune System Boost vacation package. The package ($775 per couple), while subject to availability, is an add on to a three-night stay at the Inn, and includes a customized “Boost Your Immune System” cooking class, a personalized art and creativity class, a healthy living and nutrition class, an exploration of the process of meditation for health and developing a sustainable health-promoting mindset, a “Boosting Immune System Through Healthy Habits” class, a newsletter including discussions of meditation and health issues, a copy of Sid Garza-Hillman’s books Raising Healthy Parents: Small Steps, Less Stress, and a Thriving Family and Approaching the Natural: A Health Manifesto, and a copy of The Art of Play: Ignite Your Imagination to Unlock Insight, Healing, and Joy by Joan Stanford.

Coronavirus is not the first crisis that the spa industry has endured. Clients were hesitant to visit during previous virus outbreaks, such as SARS and Avian Flu. After the 2008 financial crisis, luxury items such as spa treatments were often the first to be cut from a family’s budget. But the industry finds ways to navigate these disruptions and always comes out stronger for it. If there’s one thing that’s certain about this uncertain virus, the spa community will prevail, it always does.

American Spa will continue to provide top of the line Coronavirus coverage as news surrounding the pandemic emerges. Click here for our full list of COVID-19 coverage and check back daily for updates. Want to share your Coronavirus updates with us? Email [email protected], or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


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