Recently I’ve had a number of thought-provoking conversations with hospitality leaders about the future and how our businesses will operate in the wake of an economic shutdown and in an ongoing viral pandemic. Book4Time customers want to maintain the same level of guest experience excellence for which they’re known, while at the same time adhering to strict safety protocols. The conversations are ongoing and will be for some time to come.
We know that the future will require increased focus on cleaning and sanitation, retraining of staff, and eliminating all unnecessary communal touch points, including reading materials, shared water cooler pitchers, trays of food, and product testers. We also know that technology will become more important than ever when it comes to supporting spa and wellness businesses. I’ve heard it acknowledged that spa and wellness is not always the most tech forward sector, and that sometimes people are a little afraid of technology. This will change.
Business leaders might have to step outside of their comfort zones and experiment with out-of-the-box thinking regarding how we support our guests and define the new wellness experience. For a high-touch industry, this will require thoughtfulness and creativity. Some things will be easier than others, and technology will facilitate this transition. Here are a few ways that technology will play a bigger role in spa and wellness in the coming months and years.
Paperless receipts, waivers, and intake forms
Many of the paper items in your spa should no longer be hanging around in this new era. Going paperless is greener, less hassle, more hygienic and, I might say, long overdue. Paper receipts are not necessary. Sometimes people keep them for benefit reimbursements or for tax purposes, but a digital receipt will do just as well, is less likely to get lost, and is better for the environment – did you know that thermal receipts can’t even be recycled? Offering a digital receipt also allows you to build your customer database with relevant contact information for future services. Your cloud-based spa software system should offer the ability to automatically email receipts to your guests at checkout.
Also, most businesses require every guest to fill out a paper form providing their health information when that guest arrives at the spa. Again, this is a waste of paper, and now we have to consider the fact that it’s also another touchpoint for potential viral contamination. Investing in a digital intake product is a great way to reduce this waste and risk. Your guests can simply fill out their forms from home prior to arrival, or on a personal mobile device at their own convenience. Many spas are also considering offering iPads for check in and intake forms, as these can be wiped down between guests.
Online menus are more convenient. In the past, our industry has put a lot of effort and thought into the creation of beautiful paper menus, but these will have to go, at least for the foreseeable future, and many people will probably not want to see their return. Paper menus increase the chances of viral contamination – and they also may be more trouble than they are worth. Online menus are not only available from anywhere, they are more easily modified, should you wish to make changes, as they don’t require printing and redesign.
Touchless payment options will be another must have, because guests will not want to touch a keypad that has been touched by goodness knows how many people if they can avoid it. Most countries now support touchless payment options for credit card charges including Apple and Google pay. Check with your credit card provider to see what options they offer. Transactions above the amount of the tap limit may still require use of the pin pad, so do be sure to disinfect it between each user.
The future of walk ins is in peril, and going forward, more clients will want to self-book online. Online booking reduces the time your customer has to spend at your front desk, decreasing the risk of exposure for both the guest and your staff. Your cloud software should allow you to offer incentives or promotions to encourage booking services online.
Retail will be a bigger part of revenue when spas are operating at reduced occupancy. Marketing and promoting your retail through your software system will be a must for generating this revenue. Encourage guests to make purchases online and make it easy for them to get those purchases, either through delivery or curbside pickup.
The future of spa and wellness is digital. The more we learn to apply and rely on the many available technology resources, the better off we will be.