The past year and a half has seen more twists and turns than a Hitchcock movie and, for the hair and beauty industry, there have been some big changes afoot as we slowly but surely begin to get used to the new normal. The biggest factor is, of course, the introduction of health and safety measures designed to keep Covid at bay, but these aren’t the only changes to have crept into our favourite luxury beauty salons.
From moving further into the digital age to switching up the layout, a visit to our favourite celebrity stylist may never be the same again – but one thing the top players have all managed to ensure is that the all-important customer experience isn’t compromised. In fact, as a result of some of the changes, many have actually been able to elevate the whole process to lofty new heights, and some of the things we might previously have assumed would be a nuisance have actually proven to be quite the success when it comes to getting the most out of our appointments.
If you’re yet to book in for your next visit, then be warned; things might look a little different. But we’ve got a sneaking suspicion we might just learn to love this element of the new version of normal. Here’s what to expect next time you book in for a luxury blow-dry or a diamond-encrusted mani.
Doing away with the walk-in
Prior to the dramatic events that have unfolded over the past year, it was perfectly normal for salons to welcome customers without appointments through their doors where schedules and capacity allowed – but these days, it’s a thing of the past. Thanks to stringent social distancing rules that require minimal numbers of customers waiting to be seen at any one time, salons have less capacity than they did previously, and the only real way of maintaining the new safety measures is to properly schedule appointments to reduce risk.
2021 has seen a surge in salons getting onboard with scheduling and management tools like Booksy to make sure that their premises adhere to distancing guidelines as well as ensuring optimum efficiency, and doing so has elevated the customer experience no end. Not only has it meant that salons are now less busy and so offer up a more relaxing atmosphere, but that there is always plenty of space in which to sit and flick through a magazine and sip a cup of coffee while waiting your turn – that is, if you have to wait at all.
The virtual consultation
Pre-appointment consultations have, for many, long been an inconvenience we could do without. For those who live far from their chosen luxury salon, having to make the trek in not once, but twice to get our locks seen to has meant taking extra time out of our days and weeks to attend, but these too, it seems, have now been relegated to the history books.
If there’s one thing that the ongoing lockdowns of the past twelve months have taught us, it’s the benefits of embracing technology, and as it turns out, it has since shown itself to have a handy role to play when it comes to luxury hair and beauty appointments. In the interests of minimising the number of people in a salon at any given time, many hair and beauty professionals are choosing to hold consultations by video instead – which means no more traipsing into the city centre for a five-minute chat, and instead enjoying the experience from the comfort of your own home over a cup of tea.
A cool reception
The salon reception desk has always been a place where cash swaps hands, free pens are handed over and the receptionist kindly helps you to take off – and put on – your coat at the beginning and end of each appointment. But for many salons, the reception desk has now been relegated to the past. While some may be nostalgic for the salon reception process, keeping contact to a minimum has become increasingly important in light of recent events, which has seen a growing number of salons now encouraging customers to pay online instead – or at the very least, via contactless methods within the salon to reduce the risk of contamination.
This is another change that, for many customers, has made the entire process quicker and easier, with no more waiting around post-appointment waiting your turn to pay. Let’s face it; after hours spent having your hair done, your first priority is likely getting out there and showing it off, and now you can do so almost immediately.
Upending the upsell
Upselling the products used during salon treatments has always made for a lucrative additional stream of income and can have a significant impact on overall profits – but the new normal frowns upon the additional risk presented by having products on display, which can be picked up and put down again by multiple customers. Instead, salon owners are going digital in order to continue making these important sales, which is perhaps one of the major changes that has been less favoured by clients. If you’ve always enjoyed having a chit-chat about the latest luxury shampoo or serum, then you’ll now need to do so with hands off – but the good news is that you can still order them online.
Many salons are using Booksy’s management system not just for scheduling appointments but also for marketing purposes. For example, savvy salons are using email marketing to send out promotional messages to customers, including special offers on products. So if you sign up to your favourite salon’s email list, you’ll avoid missing out on any of the good stuff.
A clean sheet
Cleanliness has always been a priority within salons – both luxury and otherwise – but in the past, this was rarely something that businesses would shout about. In a post-pandemic world, part and parcel of a salon’s marketing strategy is in reassuring customers about the safety of their premises, putting their minds at ease to ensure a relaxing and enjoyable visit.
This is another message that has widely been incorporated into digital marketing, because let’s face it – in 2021, the online world and its many platforms and channels have truly come into their own.
The bottom line
There’s no denying that the luxury salon experience we knew and loved has changed – but most will agree that it’s all been for the better. All of these adjustments add up to one important thing – safety and peace of mind for customers. And in a post-pandemic world, when all we want to do is sit back, relax and make the most of a luxury experience, it’s something that most of us are more than happy to embrace.