20 Oct 2018 Spa Business Handbook
 

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Spa Business Handbook - Anticipating Future Shocks

Industry insights

Anticipating Future Shocks


Rohit Talwar – futurist, author and CEO of Fast Future – looks at global factors that could impact and disrupt the spa industry in the years to come

Industry insights shutterstock By metamorworks

The spa industry, like most other sectors, likes a stable outlook and a sense of normality as a basis on which to plan. However, the reality is that there’s no such thing as “normal” anymore, and shocks can bring opportunities alongside negative consequences.

Some say this near immunity to large-scale shocks started with the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, Donald Trump’s election as US President, and revelations about fake news on social media influencing voters and elections around the world.

More recently, we’ve seen regular announcements of the mind-blowing capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI), an escalating diplomatic conflict with Russia, and people creating and losing multi-million dollar fortunes in days through trading cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings – about which most people still know very little. Shocks have become an accepted part of the mix in the modern world and – in a sense – there’s nothing that really shocks us anymore.

For those in the spa industry, understanding potential disruptions is critical in order to plan ahead and prepare for a range of possible scenarios. As futurists, our role is to undertake systematic reviews of the factors that might shape the future and to identify resulting opportunities and potential shocks. In this article, we highlight six shocks from our forthcoming book 500 Futures that could directly impact the spa sector.

1. Brexit brings down the global economy?

Economic stability and growth are good for spas – people are more comfortable booking longer term and take more impromptu feel-good breaks. Brexit could put a spanner in the works. A badly managed and chaotic Brexit could drive a prolonged global recession. The immense costs of withdrawal, implementing new systems in areas such as customs, and recruiting new staff into government could lead to cuts in public services and welfare payments. Foreign company departures from the UK and an accelerated pace of automation as firms seek to reduce financial risk could both drive layoffs. Markets might be spooked by an uncertain transition period and protracted post-transition rebalancing of the UK economy, impacting share prices and exchange rates. Add in the prospects of declining spending, higher import costs, and a significant reduction in government tax revenues, and the UK economy could nosedive into a prolonged recession that lasts several years. The contagion effect could sweep across the planet and drive a global downturn.

Spa businesses should ensure they are prepared for multiple scenarios, including the prospect of a prolonged downturn. Regular horizon scanning would help spot early indicators of change. Having a “plan B” will be important; knowing in advance the types of discounts, cost-reduction measures, and smart marketing approaches you might use will help ensure a rapid response and even allow for pre-emptive moves if the downturn starts to take shape.

 


PHOTO: shutterstock.com

Brexit could drive a global recession
2. Techlash – society rebels against the machine?


We rely increasingly on technology – and social media in particular – to market and sell our products; a tech backlash could erode trust across the board. Concerns are being raised worldwide about the safety of our data and its misuse by those who collect it. Furthermore, the rapid pace of development and potential job losses from artificial intelligence (AI) and other disruptive technologies such as blockchain may drive a technological backlash, as those affected begin to rage against the machine.

While a backlash may impact sales, it could also erode trust in what we say. This will place a greater emphasis on transparency of communications and providing the evidence to demonstrate the health and wellness benefits of our offerings.

 


PHOTO: shutterstock.com

Concerns are being raised about the safety of our data and its misuse by those who collect it
3. A more caring society courtesy of the empathy internet?

Shock technological advances mean that spas may be able to extend the sensory benefits of treatments beyond those directly receiving them. By 2025, the internet could evolve into a multi-sensory environment. Futurist Michio Kaku predicts that by 2025 “we will see the gradual transition from an internet to a brain-net, in which thoughts, emotions, feelings, and memories might be transmitted instantly across the planet.” A whole market segment could open up for customers to stay at home but still experience the same sensations as the person physically receiving a massage, facial, or steam bath.
 


PHOTO: shutterstock.com

A market could open up for customers to stay at home but experience the sensations of a spa
4. Total recall lite – experience different
worlds from the comfort of Main Street?

The virtual spa experience could be extended from the home to Main Street. With rapidly rising rates of retail closures around the world, shops could be replaced by technology-rich experience centres offering the promise of plugging in, zoning out of daily life, and tuning in to a range of spa experiences.

A new type of spa could start appearing in shopping districts and malls around the world. Equipped with a range of immersive, multi-sensory technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, customers could experience the heat and humidity of an Amazonian body rub, or the deep tissue impact of a naked roll in Norwegian snow. Customers could even design their own customised range of treatments. For spas, this offers the potential to massively extend their offerings without consumable costs, adverse environmental impacts, or the need for guests to unrobe.

 



Immersive, multi-sensory technologies could let customers experience spas virtually
5. Unplugging: the off-grid holiday?

The rise in workplace stress and the pressures of 24/7 availability for the modern employee could see employers, doctors, and even the state mandating that people deliberately take an unplugged break. Governments might be forced to act to mandate such breaks because of the rising costs to society of poor mental health, and the potential loss of tax revenues from people who take long-term sick leave or quit their jobs due to stress. Today, some retreats promote themselves as a tech-free haven or offer ‘digital detox’ programmes. In the near future, off-the-grid, fully disconnected “sanctuary spas” may become the hottest vacation destination to escape the modern lifestyle.
 


PHOTO: shutterstock.com

Governments might mandate unplugged breaks for mental health
6. Human enhancement and the end of ageing?

For spas, the desire to change our physiology and extend life expectancy could drive a massive extension to the kinds of treatments offered. A range of human augmentation procedures are starting to emerge using chemical, genetic, electronic, and physical augmentation techniques. These treatments could alter our genetic make-up and appearance, extend our cognitive powers, and give us new physical capabilities.

Manipulation of our cells at the genetic level using ingestible nanobots could help reverse or retard the ageing process quite dramatically. Nanobots are capable of moving through our bodies and blood stream to perform specific tasks, such as removing or repositioning molecules from one place to another. Taking the goal one step further, many people are already paying for cryogenic freezing upon death, hoping they can be resurrected at some future point. Entrepreneurial spas might well see opportunity in what is expected to be a multi-trillion dollar augmentation and life-extension market.

While these developments suggest possible shocks for society, they also represent potential opportunities for forward-thinking spa owners. The key is a willingness to devote the time to research what’s next, and the courage to experiment with new treatments, business models, and customer engagement approaches.

About Fast Future

Fast Future is a professional foresight firm specialising in delivering keynote speeches, executive education, research, and consulting on the emerging future and the impacts of change for global clients. Fast Future publishes books from leading future thinkers around the world, exploring how developments such as AI, robotics, exponential technologies, and disruptive?thinking?could impact?individuals, societies, businesses,?and governments and create the trillion-dollar sectors of the future.

For more information, see: www.fastfuture.com


About the author:

 

Rohit Talwar
 

Rohit Talwar is a global futurist, speaker, author, and the CEO of Fast Future. He helps clients understand and shape the emerging future and respond. Rohit is the co-author of Designing Your Future, lead editor and a contributing author for The Future of Business, and editor of Technology vs. Humanity. He is a co-editor and contributor for Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity and The Future Reinvented – Reimagining Life, Society, and Business, and two forthcoming books: Unleashing Human Potential – The Future of AI in Business, and 50:50 – Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.



Originally published in Spa Business Handbook 2018 issue 1

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