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29 May 2020

Webinar roundup: Reopening, sauna science and mental wellness
BY Lisa Starr

This week's roundup focuses on mental wellness, sauna science and business strategies ahead of spas reopening

This week's roundup focuses on mental wellness, sauna science and business strategies ahead of spas reopening

With lockdown measures gradually beginning to ease around the world, webinars have focused on looking to the future of wellness and preparing spas for reopening. Sessions have also focused on sauna science, mental wellness and business strategies ahead of reopening in a COVID-19 landscape.

Lisa Starr shares her takeaways from some of the latest sessions.

GWI Mental Wellness: What does the Future Look Like?

Professor Gerry Bodeker and Alina Hernandez, co-chairs of the GWI Mental Wellness Initiative, co-hosted this call amongst nearly 350 people.

According to Bodeker and the Initiative, there is a global mental wellness crisis, with almost one billion people suffering from anxiety, and almost 25 per cent experiencing mental disorders. COVID-19 is certainly not expected to have a positive impact on this population.

Bodeker stated that: “If the world is affected, then we’re affected. The most vulnerable in the world will have another layer of crisis on their existing situation.”

A specific population of focus is that currently of pregnant women and their fetuses. Hernandez shared that the WHO has identified 26 stressors which negatively impact both the fetus and the mother during gestation, including a sedentary lifestyle, overeating, or malnourishment, all of which are exacerbated by the current situation and can become long-lasting effects.

Jeremy McCarthy, group director of spa and wellness for Mandarin Oriental, described how trauma can make people stronger; as they become aware of their own mortality they develop a focus on health and wellness, and this has formed Mandarin Oriental’s strategy as we recover from the pandemic. They’re creating a four-week course for colleagues called Inner Strength Outer Strength, and the idea is to build new habits of physical vitality, mindfulness, emotional resilience and positive psychology, and to come back even stronger.

Melisse Gelula, co-founder of Well+Good, mentioned the paper that was just submitted to the Vatican by the GWI – which she co-authored – stating that: “This paper expresses the acute reality that we all face, no one is immune from mental issues, whether through isolation, loss of income, the world has woken up to the impact of mental health and wellness on a day-to-day basis.

“Leaders need to step up and set a tone of support and compassion for these conversations.”
Bodeker added that companies and their leaders need to continue outreach around mental health and wellness needs, so that employees do not feel abandoned. The Initiative’s white paper on Mental Wellness can be read here.

GWI Hydrothermal Initiative Collaboration: Sauna Science Lab
Moderated by Don Genders, CEO Design for Leisure, and Lasse Erikson, sauna expert.

This was a fascinating discussion among medical researchers, scientists and sauna experts on the role sauna and sweat bathing can play in overall health. These practices have been considered a natural medicine for many illnesses, but are now considered more of a luxury than a wellness practice. The experts gathered here would like to have sauna and hot and cold compress therapy recognized by governments.

Speakers included:
  • Mikkel Aaland, author of Sweat and host of upcoming Netflix series

  • Dr Marc Cohen, founder of Extreme Wellness Institute

  • Hans Hagglund, MD, PhD, known as the “Sauna Doctor”

  • Politician Sven-Erik Bucht, Sweden’s first Sauna Minister

  • Risto Elomaa, president of International Sauna Association

When Cohen was asked if it is possible to use heat therapy against viruses, he responded, “Simple answer, yes.” Organisms including plants and animals respond to an infection with an increase in temperature to help fight it. Cohen also noted that regular sauna bathers have higher heat tolerances, and can thus make more heat proteins, so when they’re sick their bodies can make a fever faster, activating their immune systems.

Cohen also shared a link to his recent study on heat as a therapeutic intervention, specifically focused on COVID-19 – click here to access the paper.

Dr Jari Laukkanen, cardiologist and researcher, shared results of a study of 1700 Finnish people from 2018 in which sauna bathing in general has a significant positive impact on cardiovascular disease; lowering blood pressure.

Aaland had an interesting observation regarding public vs private approaches, saying: “If you go to Harvard medical school, it’s a beautiful facility, so much money. Then you go across the street to the Public Health Department, and it’s a small insignificant building. Maybe we need to stop focusing on the medical community and instead work with Public Health departments; parks, swimming pools, beaches. Doctors work with individual patients, we need to work with whole communities.”

In closing, Eriksen shared that the purpose of the call was to get everyone thinking of logical next steps. Genders concluded saying: “We’d like to think we can walk away with much more insight into the proven health benefits of sauna. How to take these thoughts about health benefits to a larger percentage of the world’s population. We’re opening spas to the public, and we need to look at hospitals, rehab, senior living and have everybody talking together. That’s what we really need to do.”

To catch up on the webinar, follow this link.

Beauty and the COVID Beast, from Happi Magazine
Speakers: Denise Herich, co-founder and managing partner, The Benchmarking Company, Karen Doskow, director, Beauty and Personal Care, Kline & Co. and Lisa Powers, EVP Personal Care Product Council.

Coronavirus is wreaking havoc in the beauty industry. Normally recession-resistant, cracks in the cosmetics foundation are evident, but there are opportunities for astute marketers of skincare, hair care and cosmetics. This webinar featured three experts from the beauty industry, who shared their perspectives on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the consumer, companies and the beauty industry overall.

The Benchmarking Company provides consumer research, and Herich shared statistics from two recent surveys of over 5300 consumers on their attitudes and behaviours regarding beauty product usage.

Happily, most women (84 per cent in May) are following their usual skincare routine, and in fact, 60 per cent said they were caring for their skin better than ever. However, makeup usage has definitely gone down, although 53 per cent said they still wear it for online meetings.
Additional good news for spas was that 81 per cent of the surveyed women said they’re searching for activities to lower their stress levels.

Doskow agreed that skincare and personal care were “having a great year,” after a 2019 peak of spending at US$75b, but that she believes it will be 10 years until we reach those 2019 levels again. An attendee asked the panel their predictions on professional esthetics; Doskow responded saying that: “The jury was still out.”

She believes spas will lead with massages as opposed to facials, and that there will be an abundance of shorter services.

Some quarantine bright spots included facial care, hand and body care, virtual consults and sexual wellness.

To access the webinar, click here.

GWI Master Class
Hosted by Dr Ken Pelletier, renowned integrative medicine pioneer and clinical professor of medicine.

The renowned Pelletier, who has spoken at many Global Wellness Summits, attracted 285 people from 72 countries to hear his thoughts on what we do and don't know about COVID-19. Pelletier shared a slide presentation, available on the Global Wellness Summit site, on these topics as well as what the future looks like.

He outlined what we know so far: we’ve passed the spike, but after a trough in cases there will be a second, less severe, spike. What we don’t know are many of the medical aspects including ideal interventional medications, potential mutations, and duration of asymptomatic conditions.
What is the answer, if not a vaccine? Pelletier believes that the virus will “burn itself out” before the vaccine arrives; self-immunization strategies are the answer until then, noting that there will likely be a COVID-20 lurking next.

He also notes that the top 10 countries in happiness 2017-2019, have the lowest COVID morbidity. Is this a reflection of healthy living?

In the long term, he states that we need to look at the preconditions that give rise to these virulent viruses, and create conditions that do not allow the virus into human populations. He believes more funding into the reduction of obesity, chronic heart disease and diet and nutrition would do much to stem the receptivity and the likelihood of a recurring virus.

When Susie Ellis asked for his advice, Pelletier stated that what we’re already attempting to do, efforts such as the Wellness Moonshot, are having an effect.

He explained: “In the last 12-13 years of the Global Wellness Summit, there has been a change in the population in terms of diet and exercise,” and he remains optimistic we’ll continue to make progress in the fight against lifestyle diseases.

To see the masterclass, follow this link.

Tax Advice for Startups and Entrepreneurs: What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Policies; eCornell
Featuring Renata Dabrowska, head of outsourced accounting Sciarabba Walker, Rick Reinhold, visiting professor of the Practice at the Cornell Law School, Robert Green, professor at Cornell Law School, and Nathan Cook, entrepreneur in residence at Cornell University.

This panel of tax and legal experts addressed some of the most important COVID-related changes that will impact business decisions, including new filing dates, different loan stipulations, changes to benefit policies and other impactful measures.

Addressing eligible expenses for PPP loan forgiveness, tax credits for paid leaves, and many other aspects of the CARES act in the US.

To catch up, click here.

Weathering the Storm and Preparing for Business Recovery
Hosted by Beekeeper’s head of hospitality Andrada Paraschiv, Lisa Lombardo of HDG Hotels, James Lemon of The Growth Works and IHG, and Jeff David of the Fitler Club.

This conversation focused on hotel business strategies for moving forward, driven by questions from Paraschiv.

Lombardo stated that to move forward, it was important to allow consumers to decide what they are comfortable doing, but just the conversation about opening was encouraging people to venture out; some HDG properties have had occupancy as high as 40 per cent recently.

David commented that it may take two to four years to get back to 2019-level ADR’s, but that leaders must have unwavering faith that “it will get better.”

IHG has already reopened many China properties, and Lemmon said their properties there would have a mindset shift to total revenue: “Moving beyond a rooms focus, looking at the hotel as an asset that could drive revenue across the board, including meeting spaces and food and beverage, maximizing the value of every trip.” Lemmon reported that in China, only 40 per cent of air travel has returned, but 80 per cent of hotel business is back, with occupancy rate in the 60 per cent range.

Other trends out of China included:
  • Higher interest than ever in family trips

  • Leisure trips may have higher cost in the future but be less frequent

  • Higher focus on domestic and drive-to locations, 1-5 hours from home

  • Higher incidence of socially distant/independent travel

All three agreed that the industry has always been hygiene-focused, and don’t need to reinvent the way cleaning is done, but probably change the wording, such as from “clean” to “sanitised”, and to reimagine the handling of typical room amenities such as coffee machines and telephones.

Lemmon commented that hoteliers need to “drive confidence” with ideas that appeal to the local market and help guests feel comfortable but with fewer resources. David adds that teams can feel as if you are “bargaining into compliance,” if you are frugal or opportunistic. Leaders need to say we’re doing what we’re doing to be the gold standard, not just for health and safety.

In closing, Lemmon advised, “Be brave, consumers will be more forgiving now if you’re trying something new. Seize the opportunity to innovate.”

Access the webinar here.

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