23 Nov 2017 | Digital editions, magazines, websites, e-zines, handbooks and contract publishing for the leisure industry

Health Club Management issue 11, 2017 is now out!


Health Club Management bloggers:

Liz Terry
Leisure Media

Kate Cracknell
Health Club Management

Ian Taylor

Gareth Edwards
Director of Education,

John Goodbody
Sports Journalist

Peter Ducker
Chief executive,
Institute of Hospitality

Suki Kalirai
Interim CEO,

Sam Coulstock
Customer Relationship Director,

Leah De Silva
Business development director,

Peter Moody
Brook Street des Roches LLP

David Stalker

Charles Wilford
Co-Head, Leisure Team,
Gerald Eve

Earning loyalty in 2015

06 Nov 2015
by Kate Cracknell, editor-at-large, Health Club Management
Your customers aren’t being disloyal if they don’t only use your gym; things have moved on from the one-stop shop

Are contracts really the key driver of member loyalty, as numerous retention reports have stated over the years? ukactive’s latest Business Performance Benchmarking report suggests not – or at least, no longer. It found that gyms with a minimum 12-month fixed-term contract saw an average membership length of 11.2 months – far shorter than the 17.2-month average enjoyed by gyms that didn’t require a 12-month commitment and that offered more flexible contract lengths.

It seems the drivers of loyalty are changing. And while those drivers will vary from one customer to the next, one increasingly recurrent theme is the desire for flexibility.

The fitness sector has begun to respond, recognising that loyalty should be an active choice rather than a forced hand. The low cost-led shift away from contracts was a positive first step, and even where contracts have stayed in place, forward-thinking operators are introducing more flexibility: DiR’s à la carte membership, where members pay only for what they use, is a good example. But more can be done.

One new trend – a short hop on from flexible pricing – is ‘sympathetic pricing’. This involves imaginative discounts and rewards that go beyond telling people you care, actually proving it by directly addressing customers’ specific pain points – and earning their loyalty as a result. For more on this, turn to Health Club Management 2015 issue 11 page 36.

But the latest leap in consumer expectation demands even more flexibility from all operators – because the younger generations in particular no longer want to belong to just one gym. They want to mix and match, keeping enjoyment levels high by bringing variety into their routine.

As The Futures Company pointed out in the last issue of HCM: “To win with those aged under 30, gym owners must embrace – even encourage – a certain degree of promiscuity of membership.”

The boutique studios have recognised this. With flexibility at the very heart of their model, these operations are garnering huge loyalty by creating strong brands and enthusiastic communities – this in spite of a premium price tag and commitment-free ‘pay per class’ set-up. Joey Gonzalez, CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp, explains how in his interview on Health Club Management 2015 issue 11 page 26.

The key here is to understand that your customers aren’t being disloyal to you if they don’t only use your gym; operators need to play to their strengths to ensure they stay in the exercise mix, but at the same time realise things have moved on from the one-stop shop.

So if you’re an operator, what’s the best way to go about embracing this desire for variety and flexibility? Certainly the likes of ClassPass offer a route to market that caters for the cherry-pickers – but how do you best use these tools to ensure they benefit your business rather than undermining it? On Health Club Management 2015 issue 11 page 44, Stephen Tharrett and Mark Williamson of ClubIntel offer their advice to anyone considering working with what they call the ‘internet middlemen’.

A final thought on loyalty comes in our trendwatching feature on Health Club Management 2015 issue 11 page 36, which points to the need for far deeper engagement with consumers. Did you know 63 per cent of people only buy products and services that appeal to their beliefs, values or ideals? German women-only club My Sportlady certainly appreciates this, offering heart-warming inspiration on Health Club Management 2015 issue 11 page 58. It’s time to define what your brand stands for – your customers’ loyalty depends on it.

Tags: Health Club Management  health & fitness 

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