Every club and fitness facility had one strategy over the past year or so. Do whatever is needed to get by. And the industry rose to the challenge – virtual instructor-led classes streamed on Facebook and Instagram as well as an enormous boom in on-demand content piped directly to members’ homes that has changed the way members think about clubs. But as members return to regular class activities, schedules get busy and classes re-fill, it’s to move beyond just getting by: and the perfect opportunity to put into place practices, ideas and technologies that position every club to not just survive, but thrive.
Personalize Communications + Interactions
Whether members are coming through the doors or engaging with your club online and virtually, a welcoming experience is critical to building long term member retention. You don’t need to hoist printed welcome back banners over the reception desk (especially as member return has been happening for weeks), but it’s important to find ways to enhance every on-site or virtual interaction. Using a member’s name as they scan their card at check in, walk into class or stop in to grab a smoothie can create incremental personalized moments for any member, making them feel they’re recognized and remembered. That welcoming approach can’t just be on site. Make all communications as personalized as possible – try conducting a courtesy call once every other month by phone to ask about member satisfaction or to share promotional news. And create small batch personalized email interactions rather than nameless mass email marketing campaigns.
Improve Member Experience with Organized Content
In the early days of the pandemic when members worked out exclusively from home, clubs operated a patchwork of online tools, social media channels and apps to try and engage members. Suggested YouTube videos to try, instructors offering their own Facebook live sessions and of course, on-demand fitness content. A piecemeal approach is fine in the heat of the moment, but for long term member satisfaction, we need to organize and optimize content – particularly under your club’s brand. Every time a member isn’t on site at the club and chooses to work out at home they should be engaging with your club’s content and interacting with your branded library, not scrolling through YouTube and finding an option elsewhere. Your library should be optimized for easy navigation in the same way the on-site experience is. Members need to be able to find HIIT, core-strength, a stationary bike class or short form exercises that mimic free weight time as easily as they do when they step out of the locker room. And if you don’t offer a wide variety of content programming, perhaps now is the time to review and renew. Look to offer a blend of :10, :30, :45 and :60 minute classes and workouts to ensure you’re offering convenience as well as content and as much as possible offer on-demand classes that cover the same workouts and timeframes as live classes. Many members first come to on-demand content to try a buzzy, celebrity-trainer-led class, but they stay long term for the diversity of programming, so ensure you have high energy, calorie burning classes and a cross section of toning, muscle-group focus workouts as well as wind-downs, stretches and even meditation for overall wellness.
Engage Members Seamlessly Everywhere, Anywhere
In 2020, however clubs could engage a member in any adhoc manner was a positive. But longer term growth and club success will come down to a truly seamless member experience: in the club, at home, on the go and online. Social media can play a pivotal role in connecting the physical club environment to the virtual club experience. Create a plan of posts and story content on a monthly basis and balance your focus on in-club and at-home storytelling: in-club instructor profiles and at-home content spotlights; member stories around the club as well as working out on the go; tips not just for getting the most out of the club on-site, but ideas to make your home workouts with club content more impactful and successful. Create member challenges and workout goals with hashtags and incentives but ensure they can be completed in the gym and the family room. Conducting 360-degree storytelling in this way will help members see that your club goes beyond the four walls of the physical structure to wherever and whenever members opt to work out.
Build for Success
As clubs get busier, we need to stay ahead of the trend and the traffic in order to retain members and maintain satisfaction standards. If your operational budget doesn’t allow for additional live classes and instructor expenses at this stage, consider adding more virtual programming which can be done at very to no additional cost. Schedule classes on-site during non-peak hours to help spread congestion and ensure at-home or on-the-go members can take the class wherever they may be.