Client comms for your reopening

Earlier this week our founder, Tracey Stapleton joined European Spa magazine for their #Spaleadersathome series on Instagram Live.  Tracey discussed the role of communications in a business and what spas and salons need to bear in mind for their reopening strategy.  Here we highlight her main recommendations.

What is the role of communications in your business?

Good communications is the fundamentals of PR and one which my London PR agency prides itself on.  It helps both to protect and build your reputation which in turn stimulates positive word of mouth which leads to more customers. So developing a communications strategy for this period of reopening when human emotions are heightened is vital.  A good comms plan can catapault your business forward and help it recover much more quickly, whereas a bad one could ruin it.

And I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to talk about wellness which has been brought to the forefront during lockdown.  The public have a much greater understanding of its importance in their lives so this is a real opportunity for spas and spa suppliers to build their businesses even better than before.

What are the key considerations when planning a comms strategy for reopening?

Well there are some key planning considerations before you look at the content.

First set a few goals so you can measure how well you’re doing with your comms and that they’re actually working. These can be really simple, for example to ensure a certain open rate of your newsletter with your hygiene and safety news or to limit complaints to a certain number.  By setting goals and measurements, this will ensure you are doing everything possible to encourage positive word-of-mouth and warding off anything that could cause your business harm.

Then, you need to know who you are talking to and what their needs are and these will fall into different types of persona.  As I’ve said, human emotions are heightened.  They’ll be some people who are out and about and living an almost normal life whereas, for others, visiting a spa will be one of their first major journeys out.  You need to put yourself in their shoes and understand the reassuring words they want to hear but also to tell them all about the wonderful experiences you have planned for them.  And that brings us smoothly onto the next point.

It’s important to set new key messages around your revised service and conditions but at the same time this is a really good time to remind them of your brand values.  What makes your spa stand out from any other, what’s its point of difference?  For example one of our clients is Titanic spa, the UK’s first eco spa, so with news that during lockdown it’s been much better for our environment, it’s a good time to talk about Titanic’s eco credentials.

And then it’s important to keep your strategy fluid to work with the changes that may come about from government guidelines.  You need to constantly revisit and apply a common sense check before communicating through your channels to ensure what you’re saying is right for that particular time.

And the content?

  1. Talk about the additional hygiene levels you have put in place on top of your already first class hygiene practice and address social distancing and how you will be handling this.
  2. Put together some FAQs. Not only will this save you and your team time but this will also dispel any Covid myths ie you can catch it from other people through sweat etc.
  3. If you’ve been working behind the scenes updating any facilities or have introduced  new packages, tell them about them.
  4. Ask your clients to take some responsibility and be sympathetic to the constraints you are under. In order for everything to work smoothly, they need to follow your social distancing and sanitizing advice.  It’s only going to work if we all play our part.  Again, use language to make them feel part of your team such as we’re all in this together/please bear with us.
  5. In your newsletter always try to stick to the 80/20 rule ie 80% useful information to engage and nurture your audience and 20% selling.

How does language affect this?

Language is like the personality of a brand and gives it a human element, so critically important.  Getting the tone right can be the make or break of what you are trying to say.  Each spa will have its own voice and it’s important to keep to this.  Be professional but human.  Rather than send an email generically from the spa, make it more personal by penning it from the spa director or manager.  Simply by using the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ can make people feel much more connected to you.

What are the main do’s and don’t’s?

 Do be honest.  Effective communication is largely based on trust.  Your clients need to trust that you are providing them with the correct information in an easy to understand manner.  When you are honest and things go wrong, which sometimes they just do, this honesty can help you recover much more quickly because people will generally rally round you to support.  So when you are putting your communications together which says what you are going to be doing for the clients in the recovery period, don’t say you are going to do something and then not do it.

Do tell people how excited you are to be welcoming them back.

Do make sure your staff are informed so they can carry through these comms.  Particularly look at how you are going to address social distancing in situ which is probably going to be the biggest issue.

Don’t feel you have to talk a lot about discounted offers.  While there’s some concern about whether people will make bookings, signs from other countries is positive.  More than anything people want to know they’re getting the best spa day or break for a reasonable price.  So make your packages sound as enticing as possible.

Don’t overdo the Covid messaging.  People are booking or coming along for a spa day or stay because they want to relax and enjoy the experience.  Keep your messaging there in the background but make sure your guests can have the most wonderful spa experience with you.

What are the important channels to use? Social, direct mail, newsletters?

Use all your communication channels.  You should always start with those closest to you and then branch out.  There’s nothing like one of your members hearing something about you first on social media.  So start with your members or loyal customers.  Make them feel an important part of your community saying we wanted you to be amongst the first to know.  Then branch out to your main database via an email or a newsletter before going out to press or putting onto your social media channels.

You can view the full video @eurospamag on Instagram.