Two definitions ...
1. A moderate and temporary decline in economic activity
2. The act of restoring possession to a former owner
From The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition.
Earlier this month, Susie Ellis of SpaFinder Inc. reported the closure of two established day spa operations in a blog post entitled 'Spas and Recession'. She wrote that she found this:
The post goes on to makes some suggestions about ways to weather the storm, but I think there is something important missing here. It is something I've been exploring on this blog over the last year. It is a view that asks for an enormous shift in perspective.
Below I have compiled six posts that look at what is happening in our culture in general, how this might relate to spa, and how we might respond - not in terms of surviving as businesses but rather in order to support cultural change and contribute to our survival on the planet.
First, here is a copy of the comment I made on the above post:
Not for marketing or business purposes but for our souls!
This calls us to examine our underlying values, our world views, and to see if what we do (through spa in this case) is really meeting our needs and those of others in a way that respects the source of our livelihood, the planet itself (including all things sustained by it).
We'll need to hold the paradox of thinking big and thinking small. In the latter respect, spas could both support and inspire sustainable local communities. Any spa that is growing beyond and outside its local community and not engaging that community fully is not in service.
I don't think it is a question of how much you pay your staff or what you do to entice customers but how much everyone really feels valued and involved. If we were to think of spa as a form of culture not as an industry, that might help us make the shift.
1. Green marketing: 'Aspiring to a dream' after 'Deflating a myth' (Nov. 2008)
I've been learning a lot about 'green marketing' recently and what that means from the varying points of view of consumers, companies, marketing professionals, and those in the business of providing information resources to niche groups. My particular interest is in how this relates to the spa world but it runs deeper. Here, I want to explore what supports the need to go green, why I'd like to see it become a primary consideration rather than a 'selling point', and what it might take for green to be taken for granted as a sustaining and sustainable way of making a living and doing business.
2. Economic blues: asking deeper questions (Dec. 2008)
This week's Splash e-newsletter for the aquatics industry addressed the topic of 'Attracting Patients in a Down Economy' and suggested that it would be beneficial to look at how other aquatic disciplines are approaching this concern. Particular reference was made to the spa industry and a recent blog post from Susie Ellis (spa guru) of Spa Finder giving her top 10 list of new spa trends for 2009. I too had seen the list and have been thinking about what it might mean in the context of 'economy' and 'choice'. What might spas and aquatic therapy clinics, both service-oriented, have in common when it comes to attracting custom?
3. Spa culture: timely opportunity for a paradigm shift (Dec. 2008)
This image shows two deer stranded in a river while the forest burns around them. For me, it conveys well the current challenges we face in deciding how best to survive economic and environmental crises. These deer know that the water may save them. Could a new vision of spa play its part in helping us to survive? For this opportunity to be grasped, we must go beyond superficial style and develop authentic integrity in providing true spa (sanus per agua - health through water) services.
4. Spa culture meets corporate culture: a force for positive change (Jan. 2009)
Long before colonization of the New World, Native Americans gathered at thermal mineral springs for physical health, spiritual, and social purposes. In Europe, the Romans were cultivating spas as places for both play and politics. And in ancient Greece, people went on spa sabbaticals to receive healing dreams from the gods that offered solutions to otherwise intractable problems.
Our own society is now recognizing the value of adding spa culture to its social and business settings, to meetings and events. It's an interweaving that, if fully realized, could provide us with solutions to our own personal, social, and environmental issues by immersing us in an inclusive and informal setting where all three aspects of human life are recognized as being inseparable.
5. Corporate social responsibility: how does spa biz show up? (Feb. 2009)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the spa world is a topic I'll be looking at in more depth on this blog. Though my main focus is on small businesses, the influence and potential leadership role of the larger corporations is significant. I want to highlight those who are showing the way. There is a majority in the spa world still who have nothing to say on the topic of sustainability (including environmental and social responsibility) and others who talk the talk but may not be walking the walk.
6. Spa industry lemons (March 2009)
Is the spa industry in general more concerned with profit than with people and personal and environmental health? Unfortunately, some of the reactions (from industry voices and in professional networks) to the current economic recession would seem to suggest that this has been so.
Anyone want to join me in brainstorming an alternative to business as usual or business at all?