OliveX strikes gold signing global tech deal with Gold’s Gym


OliveX’s Volution fitness platform joins Gold’s Gym Global Vendor Program, making it available to its global network of over 700 studios across six continents with three million members.
● Gold’s Gym is one of the world’s most iconic gym and health club chains and part of the RSG Group, a powerhouse in the growing fitness and lifestyle sector.

Global digital health and fitness company OliveX Holdings Limited (NSX: OLX) (“OliveX”) has signed a deal to join Gold’s Gym Global Vendor Program, making its Volution integrated enterprise technology platform available to this leading global health and fitness club’s gyms and franchise network.

Gold’s Gym is one of the world’s most well-known and iconic gym and health club chains, with a global network of over seven hundred owned and franchised studios across six continents, and with three million members.

Gold’s Gym is part of the wider RSG Group – a powerhouse in the fitness and lifestyle industry which boasts over six million customers and seventeen high-profile brands including McFit, John Reed, and High5.

OliveX’s Volution technology business offers gym owners and personal fitness trainers an easy to-use, end-to-end suite of services that run both in-club and virtually, to take advantage of the new ‘hybrid gym’ model. Its tools attract, engage, retain and monetise gym memberships, combining high-quality content with real-time data analytics and reporting.

Keith Rumjahn, Chief Executive Officer, OliveX said:
“Gold’s Gym is one of the world’s most iconic names in gyms and health clubs, and we are thrilled it has chosen to offer our Volution technology to its 700 gyms worldwide. “Gym owners want access to the best technology and data around to help engage their members and keep them motivated on their health and fitness journey. OliveX and Volution will continue to innovate and invest in the platform and we are really looking forward to working closely with Gold’s Gyms around the world.

Alice Holden, GVP Manager at Gold’s Gym said:
“At Gold’s Gym we have built really valuable relationships with leading suppliers around the world, enabling us to offer the very best solutions to our gyms and to our customers. We’ve been very impressed with Volution and its complete member engagement platform and highly innovative web-player platform, and we are very pleased to welcome them to our network.”

Andy Hall, Director and Chief Operations Officer, Volution, added:
“This is a real coup for OliveX and Volution. We’re excited to give Gold’s Gym’s owners and franchisors the opportunity to integrate Volution’s technology to help them build more profitable, robust businesses after the challenges many of them have faced over the past eighteen months.

“Gold’s Gym members will also get to benefit from high-quality content, seamless communications and real-time analytics on their performance and progress.”

For more information contact:
Xavier Kris
Executive Director
xavier.kris@olivex.ai

About OliveX Holdings Limited
OliveX is a digital health and fitness company selling innovative products and applications to deliver unique user experiences using artificial intelligence, gamification and premium content. The OliveX fitness metaverse provides platforms that enable real-world fitness to merge with the digital universe in order to engage consumers with brands, influences and coaches. OliveX reaches those who exercise at home, at the gym or outdoors in over 170 countries.

To learn more, visit www.olivex.ai


About Volution
Volution is a UK-based global enterprise technology platform for the fitness sector, which offers gym owners and personal fitness trainers an easy-to-use, end-to-end suite of services that run both in-club and virtually, to take advantage of the new ‘hybrid gym’ model. Its tools attract, engage, retain and monetise gym memberships, combining high-quality content, customer relationship management and real-time data analytics and reporting tools. Volution’s customers include the Gold’s Gyms, Les Mills and Anytime Fitness networks.

To learn more visit OliveX Volution


About RSG
With 6.4 million members in studios and digital offers, the RSG Group is the world’s No. 1 when it comes to fitness. We are meanwhile active in 48 countries on six continents at around 1,000 locations. Our strong brands and future-oriented concepts include Gold’s Gym, McFIT, High5, the JOHN REED family (JOHN REED Fitness Music Club, JOHN REED Women’s Club, JOHN & JANE’S, THE REED), CYBEROBICS, LOOX, Qi², McFIT MODELS, PEARL Management, Steven Baker, Master of Enthusiasm, THE MIRAI and our artist management agency TIGERPOOL that
represents selected designers and artists such as fashion label MARCELL VON BERLIN and street artist RON MILLER.

To learn more, visit www.rsggroup.com

About Gold’s Gym
From Venice Beach to a global player: what started out as a small fitness studio in California/USA in 1965 has since become the most well-known and traditional fitness company in the world. Gold’s Gym. In the last 55 years, Gold’s Gym has developed into a global brand with just under 700 studios that has expanded to six continents with three million members. Bodybuilding greats such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu worked out at the original Gold’s Gym, which went on to become the most legendary fitness studio in the world. In the fitness industry, the brand meanwhile enjoys absolute cult status and has a global appeal with a brand awareness of around 96% among gym-goers. In July 2020, the RSG Group acquired Gold’s Gym in a court-approved auction process and integrated the brand into its portfolio, thereby making it the global leader in the fitness sector.


To learn more, visit www.rsggroup.com/en/left-half/brands/golds-gym/


This release has been authorised by the board of OliveX Holdings Limited.

The link between data and marketing

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The fitness sector is an exciting place to be. Globally, it’s worth approximately $100 billion, with over 210,000 fitness and health clubs. Since 2013, we’ve also seen a 121% rise in consumers signing up and using boutique gym and fitness facilities.   However, with the growth of the market comes increased competition and where previously location was one of the most influential factors when deciding which gym to join, consumers are far more fickle today. Experience, price and community are all key influencers on where consumers spend their healthy pounds and dollars.    

As fitness operators, you would have seen the market change considerably over the past ten years. Roadside banners have been replaced by digital banners, good old-fashioned PR has been buffered by influencer marketing and leaflets are never to be seen in the modern marketeer’s armoury. There’s much more to consider when developing your marketing plan in 2020 and beyond, and that’s without even taking Covid-19 into consideration.  

Big data has been around for years. It’s not new. 

Big data analytics involves examining large amounts of data, which is done to uncover the hidden patterns, correlations and also to give business insights enabling you to make more informed business decisions. In short, forward-thinking and trailblazing organisations have realised the need for evolving from a “knowing” organisation to a “learning and growing” organisation. There is a burgeoning trend for the most successful businesses to become more objective and data-driven, and the only way they can achieve this is by harnessing the power of data and technology. 

This blog looks to explore the tremendous impact data can have on your marketing and sales strategy.  

Leads, leads, leads! 

Did you know that in the region of 26% of all marketing budgets are wasted on ineffective strategies? Wow, imagine what you could do with that 26% if you were given it back today. But, there is a way that you can ensure your marketing strategies are firing on all cylinders and that 26% can be put to great use. The answer is data and forensically evaluating the insights, to learn which actions enable you to reduce waste and achieve better performing campaigns that increase membership sales, revenue and profit.  

First thing to note here is that you don’t need any type of special qualification to do this, in fact, all of this insight could be available at the touch of a button (or two), thanks to advances in technology and sophisticated capabilities of the right data system and partner.  

Customer acquisition and data 

The customer is the most important asset that any business depends on. There is no single business that can claim success without first having to establish a solid customer base. However, even with a good customer base, a business cannot afford to disregard changes within the market, increased competition and other influencing external factors. If a business is slow to adapt and even slower to learn what customers are looking for, it’s very easy to offer poor-quality products and services. In the end, a loss of members and customers will be the result, and this creates an adverse overall effect on business success.

Your current data holds so much insight that can shape, form and influence your marketing spend and activity. By analysing your data on a regular basis, you can generate profound insights into customer preferences and trends over time.

By using data analytics and forensics to measure and monitor your marketing activity, it can help you track important metrics and you’ll learn how to optimise your campaigns for the best ROI. For example, with better and more efficient data management and tracking, we can look to monitor and measure the following, all in one place.  

  • Website traffic –  Quickly and simply you learn the source of the traffic, page views generated, and actions taken on your website.
  • Lead conversion rate – Data can determine the lead conversion rate for your campaigns.
  • Trends – Data analytics can help better understand what audiences in your market are searching for in real-time, thus creating a better understanding of  trends that you can capitalise on.
  • Channel performance – Data can demonstrate the performance of every marketing channel you use. 

Customer Segments 

Developing a well-versed understanding of your customers’ behavior is central to developing high performance marketing strategies. With better use and analysis of your data, you can quickly and effectively build a bespoke, 360-degree view of your customers, including their geographic location, average lifetime value, interests, hobbies, behaviours and much more. This information can inform your marketing strategy for the best return on investment. And if you realise a key customer demographic is converting poorly, you can look to evaluate your campaigns and messaging to better address their needs.

It’s time to get personal

We talk a lot about personalisation but nailing this is key to get more leads and closing more sales. It’s believed that some 90 percent of retailers now use personalisation in their marketing efforts and further reports quoting an ROI of 20 to 1 when personalisation is used.  

Personalised marketing isn’t new. Who remembers the Coca-Cola campaign where names were printed on bottles? Who brought a bottle with their name on? Or brought a bottle with a friend’s name on? Simple, personalised marketing which saw Coca-Cola boost their sales in the US for the first time in over ten years.   

Data analytics can help you build a customer persona, which you can leverage through various strategies to drive more sales.

Implementing a more targeted and personalised campaign means that businesses can save money and ensure efficiency. In turn, you might not generate as many leads but the leads you do receive are likely to be high-converting and better quality, and this is because you’ve been able to target the right people, in the right way, with the right message, at the right time.  

Where to start? 

Sometimes, the job of analysing data can be overwhelming, especially if you’re working in a business with multiple sites. There’s good news though, your data can be analysed computationally and with very simple dashboard management. Your dashboard and data management solution can reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions with your brand.   

This can help determine your blueprint or road map to better understand who your prospects are, what their preferences, interests, goals, lifestyles, challenges, and even personal stories are too. By understanding this, you can develop your strategy and, in turn, match this to marketing tactics that can help you develop stronger, more qualified leads.  

You might be surprised at the historical information and data you currently have on your customers, not to mention prospects and even those who didn’t join. This can also tell you a great deal and influence your marketing strategy.   

The right data partner can help you develop algorithms to create granular data sets for your prospects and identify what factors will result in a conversion.  

It’s a journey….

Once you’ve used data to better solidify your sales funnel, it’s vital that data usage and analysis doesn’t stop here. Further analysis of data can generate further and ongoing insight into member and customer behaviour and, in turn, how to optimise lifetime value.  

The power of referral marketing 

Let’s face it, it can be expensive to gain and convert a new lead into a sale. It’s therefore critical we don’t stop interacting and engaging with customers and members and learning from the day-to-day data they give us. This can inform and influence our ongoing sales marketing.  

Member referrals can be a fitness club’s best-converting channel. But only if they are delivered to the right members, at the right time and with the right reward. 

Happy, motivated members refer more people organically. In fact, a study by Saasquatch revealed that an average of 2.68 friends are referred by engaged customers (of course, this figure could be much higher if you nail your member experience and turn everyone into raving fans of your business!) 

Reducing attrition 

There’s no point in generating an improved sales strategy, with better performing leads and a better quality of sale if they are only to leave four months later.  Therefore, it’s important sales and marketing teams look at how the member or customer is interacting with the gym and what services they are using (this can also help feed into future sales campaigns and messaging). This links heavily into member engagement and your ability to deliver a hyper-personalized experience that creates a deep, long-lasting relationship with members inside and outside the four walls of your facility. The key to achieving this is, of course… data! And more information about this can be found in our member engagement playbook.  Here we detail how you can harness the power of virtual engagement to deliver the ultimate hybrid gym model (used by the likes of Anytime Fitness) that’s proven to boost member engagement, secondary spend, and lifetime value.

On the flip side, we can use data to understand the behaviour and triggers of leavers, understanding why they stopped using. Once we start to understand trends, we can set up flags – and automated actions – to reduce this happening and indeed look to alter our operation to improve the member experience. 

Once you understand who your high risk members are, you can look to implement an at-site strategy in a bid to move high-risk members into the safe zone, and this is often by encouraging people into assisted programmes.  

Did you know that only 9.6% of the UK population takes part in group exercise weekly and 30.0% annually, according to YouGov, yet, the risk of a member cancelling their gym membership is 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers? This is an unbelievable statistic and begs the question why more operators aren’t ploughing more resources into driving people into more assisted fitness programmes and products. Do you know what your risk factors are?   

If we look at the gym only members and how they experience the facility, they come to work out on the gym floor (or take a swim) 2-3 times (maybe more) a week.  Do you know how often they are spoken to? Maybe the odd “hello” from someone on reception? Do you know what their goals are? How exercise savvy are they? Do they understand how to effectively train to get the results they want? Has any of the fitness team ever spoken to them? If most of the answers to these questions are no, is it any wonder their motivation dwindles from time to time and they soon cancel their membership? Whereas, on the flipside, you have a member who trains with a PT once a week and attends group exercise classes on three other days. They are constantly engaging with experts, with people who are inspiring. They are engaging with other members who have similar goals and characteristics and feel part of a community. They are on a performance improvement plan and have help, support, encouragement and motivation. Happy days. What impact would it have on your business if just 5% of the “at risk,” gym only members started to engage more? Maybe brought some PT services or simply stayed longer and referred another member? This could take you a while to manually run those numbers. With the right data partner you could have the answer in a matter of minutes. Pretty powerful right?   

Summary 

Data analytics is vital for any business looking for growth and better commercial return. By using and analysing data on a regular basis – part of your business as usual strategy – your business can achieve competitive advantage, reduce the cost of operation, drive membership and customer retention; leading to increased revenue and profit.  .

Becoming a data-driven business doesn’t require huge amounts of change or investment as all the data you need is already at your fingertips; instead, it’s about partnering with the right provider that knows your sector and can implement the appropriate, real-time data analysis systems to handle your data in a way that maximises your marketing efficiency and outputs to increase leads and sales. Data, it’s really quite cool when you get to know it!   

Why member experience starts with data!

By Matt Adey and Ryan McNicholas

We live in a digital universe, with 1.7 megabytes of data being created for every person on earth – every second of every day. It’s no wonder then why businesses are prioritising their data strategies to improve member experience and drive commercial results. For some time, however, the fitness industry has been lagging behind other sectors. Thankfully, that’s all about to change, as we enter a data revolution! 

If it wasn’t obvious before, Covid-19 has shown that those who understand their customers the best and have the tools to reach and engage them in the right ways, at the right times, through the right channels are going to be the most successful, both now and longer-term. Fortunately, there are many great examples from other industries that we can turn to for inspiration.

Just look at the way Netflix uses data to fire up its ‘recommendation engine’ to suggest what people might like to watch based on their previous viewing habits, also using data to commission original programming content that it knows will be popular globally or to purchase the rights to films and series/box sets that will appeal to specific audiences. Always forward-thinking, placing people at the heart of its innovations, Netflix is now trialling a new Shuffle Play function, which randomly plays content it thinks members will like. This helps them to quickly and easily find content that’s tailored to their tastes – great for indecisive people or couples who can’t agree on what to watch! 

Retail giant, Amazon, gathers a massive amount of.data on each of its customers as they use the website, monitoring what they buy, what they search for, their shipping address – even making a surprisingly good guess at their income levels based on location – to offer up bespoke recommendations that reduce people’s search time and persuade them to buy. 

Uber is another global company with a strong data game, using the personal data of customers to closely monitor usage patterns. This determines which features of its service should be focused on to improve the user experience and, subsequently, how its pricing strategy should be altered to generate higher commercial returns. 

Harness the power of data or risk being left behind

Used correctly, data allows businesses to make better, smarter and more effective, real-time business decisions to enhance customer experience and lifetime value; the opposite of going by gut feeling! 

According to a recent study conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, “The expectation of consumers today is that everything exists in the world of the now, and that their interactions will be personalised.” In line with this, 60% of the 560 business leaders interviewed said that the ability to use real-time customer analytics to improve customer experience across touchpoints and devices is extremely important today.

Retailers are experts at using real-time data to enhance business performance by mapping trends – quite literally. As reported by Forbes, thousands of retail executives use a geographic information system that layers multiple data sets onto smart maps in real-time, enabling them to “analyse connections between hundreds of categories, from demographic traits to consumption patterns to characteristics of areas ripe for expansion”. 

In an era where physical stores are subject to the same high expectations as online stores, retailers are also using real-time purchase data to personalise offers at the point of sale, regardless of whether the customer is new, infrequent, regular or part of a loyalty scheme. Importantly, these offers are based on the shopper’s behavior (past purchases, items in the basket, etc) and can include coupons, discounts, stretch spend offers, new product promotions, or ‘value-adds’ such as product care tips on receipts. Faced with the unique challenges of Covid-19, real-time location data allows retailers to make data-driven decisions around restocking, staffing and store design to improve traffic flow, customer safety and personalisation of experience. For example, data can show the best times for at-risk demographics to shop, and which stores or zones are most congested so the appropriate action can be taken. According to Retail Customer Experience, “Understanding how customers move through the space, where they dwell, where congestion is happening, and where missed sales opportunities sit, provides a layer of insight that can boost sales, improve efficiency and increase overall safety.”

These real-time data solutions previously didn’t exist in the fitness industry and, for years, operators have been trying to make sense of different data points on different systems. Although data is becoming much better used – particularly amongst the budget and boutique operators – there’s still a long way to go and countless opportunities to be seized. Many facilities have been running with the same CRM systems or ways of reporting for the last five or ten years, not operating in real-time, and, therefore, are at risk of being left behind. With fit-tech and data accelerating at an extraordinary pace, the gap between those who are using it well and those who need to improve in this area is only set to widen, and it’s up to the operators to decide where they’ll end up. 

We’ve seen what’s happened with brands like Blockbuster and Nokia who failed to move with the times and suffered the consequences, with one forced into extinction by the birth of on-demand, streaming services like Netflix, and the other ranking 13th amongst smartphone brands, having once occupied the top spot. This is the same ‘innovate or die’ challenge that operators are facing right now. 

New start-ups can come in and immediately create something the market has been asking for overnight; likewise, online platforms and smaller boutique operators are seemingly able to innovate much quicker, particularly when compared to the likes of mid-market and premium mainstream facility operators. The good news is, data can help to defend against this and future proof your business by enabling you to build a roadmap of innovation so you know exactly what to focus on in the coming years. By working in this way, when the next great innovation comes along, your members won’t be looking to jump ship as you’ll already be on the front foot; leading in a way that hits the right notes with your community. 

To deliver what members want both now and in the years ahead, you need to ask them what they would wish for if they had a magic wand; the sort of high-level question that doesn’t often get broached because it’s not something that’s practical right now. But we need to tear up what’s practical, adopt a new way of thinking, and trailblaze a bold, new, data-driven world of customer-centric experiences.

Another advantage of having a strong, central data system, like a virtual hub, in place is that it can evolve with your business. So, if a new, third party app comes along that’s all the rage amongst members, you can quickly work out a way to integrate this (dependent on programmatic access) into your offering and track the data from it. In the future, it may even be possible to aggregate multiple apps into your data system.

Making data “live and breathe” in your facility

How do you make data live and breathe in your facility? It’s a question on every operator’s mind, and a challenge that excites us at Volution!

To maximise data and make those marginal gains, operators must realise that every data set tells a story. For example, if the data shows that members want to do more of a certain type of training at a particular time, then the message of the story is that the timetable needs to be adapted to reflect this, which will subsequently drive member attendance and engagement.

Data also comes alive when you tweak it, as demonstrated by David Lloyd, one of the leading operators in terms of whole-facility programming. David Lloyd understood from its data that it could increase attendance at adult sessions by scheduling them 10 minutes later than kids sessions to give parents enough time to reach the studios and prepare before their workouts. A small action with a big impact on member experience; potentially the difference between low-performing classes and having many more people attend! Something that might otherwise have been missed if data wasn’t central to their operations. 

Interpreting data in the right way

A challenge for every industry is interpreting data. If you look at one data point on its own, it won’t tell you the full story. For example, if you have ten people in a fitness class, but the weeks prior, you had 15 or 20, you could view that as a bad result. But if that was in half-term and overall visits to the club were down 50 per cent, then that attendance is, in fact, very high within the broader context. That’s why, at Volution, we help to educate operators on the best ways to understand how all the data points interact with each other to provide the full picture. This avoids making those knee-jerk, cost-cutting decisions that can actually damage a business. Data is not something to be interpreted quickly, but rather smartly, if it’s to stand the best chance of enhancing customer experience and growth of membership.

In order to build up that ‘360-degree view’ of your facility and members, it helps if all of your data can be found in one place. With a virtual hub, operators can see the length of stay for each product or service (online and offline) their facility offers, all via a central dashboard – making it easy to be proactive and make smart business decisions in real-time. This allows data to become part of the day-to-day operations of your facility where it’s most effective, rather than something that’s only addressed at the end of the week or in monthly board meetings. The way we work at Volution is not to replace your current systems, but to unite and maximise them, while identifying opportunities to increase your data functions to increase the lifetime value of members.  

That all-important member feedback

When it comes to member experience, the most important data is the feedback from members and the visit rates or take-up rates of a certain activity which provide a strong indicator of whether people are enjoying your facility and services. 

Depending on what your member feedback mechanisms are, which could include Listen360 scores, member reviews, mystery shopper scores, or Net Promoter Scores, this is really important data to analyse because it’s direct feedback from members in real-time. Good operators will know that quantifying that data, and – most importantly – acting on that data, helps you to make the right decisions that increase business performance. 

Once you’ve made changes to the business based on member feedback, it’s then essential to track those over time in terms of their effect on key metrics – attendance, penetration levels and lifetime value. However, it’s important not to change too much at once; if you’re switching all the dials, you don’t know which dial has made the biggest impact when looking at overall member experience and, from a data perspective, you could end up with misleading results. There’s a balance to be had between how you’re going to measure and review these changes and what data points you’re going to focus on; something we’re only too happy to help with at Volution. 

The power of hyper-personalisation

It’s no surprise that businesses achieve an average 20% increase in sales when offering personalised experiences, but now, the big new trend – and holy grail of customer service and marketing – is hyper-personalisation. 

Instead of grouping people into categories or personas as per the traditional way of marketing, hyper-personalisation is about diving into the granular details, and is a much more effective way of engaging your customer base. The danger of grouping by category is that it doesn’t take into account the individuality of each customer. Possible fitness categories, such men over 50 who enjoy Yoga or women under 30 who enjoy weight training, are just too broad and don’t provide businesses with the level of detail they need to effectively target and communicate with these members to guarantee their attendance and loyalty. 

And what about the ‘clubs within clubs’ that exist – the groups of people who socialise and exercise together outside the gym. The Saturday morning cycling club or Thursday evening running club. How do you know where all of these ‘clubs within clubs’ are if you’re not connected with them? And how can you hyper-personalise their in-club experiences without this data? This is why operators need to have a solid virtual engagement strategy to develop those extra touchpoints with members that reveal this type of beneficial information. 

Spotify – one of the world’s most popular music streaming services – is a master of hyper-personalisation. The Discover Weekly feature analyses your played tracks and cross-references them with people who have listened to similar music. It then identifies songs from the playlists of your ‘kindred spirits’ that you haven’t heard of, knowing there is a high chance that you’ll like them, too. Finally, it filters those findings using your taste profile, areas of affinity and exploration to give you a personalised playlist that continues your journey of discovery with the app; a complete stroke of genius.

The online personal styling company, Stitch Fix, has also hit the nail on the head when it comes to hyper-personalisation. After sharing your fit, style preferences, and budget, your very own stylist curates a selection of items to match for a small fee that’s deducted from anything you buy. Once the items arrive, you can try before you buy and only pay for what you keep. Added to this is a note from your stylist with expert advice for pairing items with styles you already own, whilst a pre-paid return envelope makes⁠ the whole experience a breeze. The longer you’re with Stitch Fix, the better they get to know your preferences, even giving you the chance to swap stylists to find a better match or to mix things up.   

Once you start to really look at how individual people are, it’s hard to look at grouping people at all. The boom in connected fitness apps, services, and equipment, allowing people to work out how they want, when they want, is also helping fitness operators to hyper-personalise experiences. Connected fitness allows the operator some degree of control – or input – into the workout experience of its members outside the four walls of the facility. For example, if an operator is running Les Mills classes and they’re used to doing BODYPUMP™ or BODYCOMBAT™ in the studio, they can continue this experience at home through LES MILLS On Demand. Another way is using your own coaches to deliver virtual training to provide the same great experience at-home and in-facility. If you leave members completely to their own devices when they’re not with you, then the connection is lost, so it’s about making sure that your virtual experience aligns with your physical experience, driving members back towards your facility. 

Automation – an operator’s best friend

Capturing large amounts of data is great, but how do you handle it all to boost member experience? As humans, it’s impossible for us to read through every line of customer data, all day long. But that’s where technology comes in… Not only can computers operate 24/7/365 without taking a break, they can also sift through data much faster and more efficiently than we ever could. With automated member journeys built into your system, this can make light work of turning data insights into actions and ultimately commercial return. For example, if a prospect interacts with your app or platform in a certain way, they’ll automatically be sent the communications, offers, and information to move them along the sales funnel. 

Automation isn’t replacing people with robots, like the scenes from some sci-fi horror movies; it’s about making the member experience more personalised. It could be that your data system triggers the head coach to call a particular member because they’ve interacted with one of your platforms, showing that they require intervention, motivation, or can be upsold to. There’s a general fear within the industry that because people want real human connection, it has to be done in person. Of course, that will always be important, but there are now some really cool ways we can do this virtually. In many ways, automation takes away the human guesswork of when a member or prospect should be approached and interacted with. Data never sleeps, so you need a virtual hub that’s always at work!

Getting smarter with data

During the pandemic, many operators have dipped a toe in the virtual world, offering members digital experiences for the first time; typically, using platforms such as Zoom and Instagram Live to host virtual workouts, personal training sessions and coaching. However, the problem with those free-to-access platforms is they’re not built specifically for fitness, and don’t provide the metrics that operators and staff need to track and truly hone their members’ digital or digit, hybrid experiences. A purpose-built virtual hub gives you that functionality, showing exactly which classes work best, at what times, and with what trainers to increase attendance and engagement by giving members more of what they want, more often. It’s great that the industry has become more tech-savvy, but now’s the time to build on that foundation and take it to the next level. 

The long-term effects of Covid-19

It remains to be seen what the longer-term effect of Covid-19 will be. Will visitor rates get back to where they once were, or not? We believe that the future is the digital, hybrid membership, combining physical sessions at the gym with virtual workouts at home. It will be interesting to see what the data tells us. Members who are following a very specific routine and need very specific equipment will most probably still attend the gym on a frequent basis, but other exercisers might not train in-club as often as they’ve found at-home solutions that work for them and fit their lifestyle better. One thing’s for sure… having a virtual hub will be essential for operators to identify these behaviors, habits and trends to adapt their business models accordingly and deliver great member experiences.   

Summary

As an operator, the digital world can sometimes feel overwhelming, but hopefully, you can see – if it wasn’t clear already – that improving member experience starts with data. The more data you have at your fingertips, the better you’ll be at observing the various customer-related patterns, trends and behaviors that are essential for delivering a knock-out member experience that triggers loyalty and retention. 

If you’re still unsure where to start, no need to worry. As your true data partner, we can identify the key data points relevant to your facility, map out what to do with that data from the best practices we’ve seen and experienced globally, and unearth new opportunities and challenge areas within your business that can make a significant impact to the lifetime value of members. Together, we can navigate an exciting path forward with data!
To unlock the power of data to deliver a digital, hybrid gym model that delivers results, download our playbook now!

What can data be used for to grow your business?

By Adam Norton

Download our playbook to start enhancing your business through data today.

Data-driven decision making is the future for all businesses, but the fitness industry has been slow out of the blocks. For decades, operators have been focused on the ‘brick and mortar’ model – throwing money at getting as many members in the building as possible, then growing the business and expanding revenue by opening more sites or studios. However, technological advancements over recent years have completely shaken up the way we live and consequently think about fitness, meaning the world of data can no longer be ignored, and operators must be quick to embrace digital technology to both survive and thrive in the years ahead. 

Just think of how far we’ve come… Who remembers the pain of waiting for a video to buffer, watching that infuriating little circle go around and around? Or waiting for what felt like an age for a song to download? Thanks to the dramatic increase in internet speeds, those days are long gone, and we can now watch hours upon hours of our favourite box sets, or perform a series of virtual, on-demand workouts in global locations, without interruptions (kids and pets aside!) 

But technology doesn’t develop all by itself, so what’s been driving this? One of the key factors has been the change in consumer behaviours and expectations, orchestrated by Millennials and Gen Z – typically, the ‘want it all, want it now’ generations. As we know, they value speed of service and personalisation, are money-conscious, tech-savvy, and generally prefer to invest in experiences over material assets. They’re also quick to switch between brands if they don’t get what they want! It’s no real surprise then why we’ve seen a boom in budget and boutique gyms, the rise of no-contract memberships, and the coming to market of countless fit-tech products and apps, like Apple Watch, FitBit and Strava, that give users access to live, real-time data at the push of a button to enhance their fitness experiences and results.  

But why does this matter? According to research by LES Mills, Millennials and Gen Z – dubbed ‘Generation Active’ – now account for 80% of gym-goers and 89% of total users of online or app-based workouts. Therefore, if gyms just stand back and watch as fit-tech companies provide Generation Active, and those to follow, with everything they need for a great workout – be it a jog around the park or a HIIT session at home – then operators run the risk of being left by the wayside. Of course, we’re not saying that you must take on Apple by creating  your own cutting-edge, wearable device, but simply to learn from the way it’s using data to create a loyal, avid customer base, and reflecting that in your facility.   

A digital future 

Even before Covid-19 struck the globe, 85% of all gym members were doing workouts at home. This trend increased amongst the wider population during lockdown, with 44% of people doing home-based activity (including 23% doing online workouts). Interestingly, 20% of those doing home-based fitness online were doing it with children in their household, introducing the next generation to digital, at-home exercise. Older generations, too, were learning how to use Zoom and other platforms to meet up and work out – creating an altogether more ‘digitally aware’ global society. 

With people’s growing love of digital and at-home workouts – shown by the 80 million views Joe Wicks racked up on The Body Coach TV YouTube channel as he became “the nation’s P.E. teacher” during lockdown – it’s not hard to see why it’s essential for today’s operators to adjust their business models to include a strong digital offering  (something we call the digital, hybrid model, otherwise they could be waving goodbye to a large portion of their potential audience. So, why haven’t more operators gone digital sooner? The answer is usually ‘change paralysis,’ a.k.a the fear of change. There’s the common misconception that to change, upgrade or implement a new data system, it’s going to take endless amounts of time and cash, but that’s often not the case with the right data partner in place.  

Do I have enough data?

Even if you’re the smallest gym in the world, you’ll have hundreds of thousands of lines of data, but you may not know it; everything from your point of sales, to people walking in your door, to the personal data you obtain by talking to people. Using the trends found in your data can help you to understand, on a minute level, what your members are doing, so you can provide a much better service that keeps them motivated, engaged, and, ultimately, retained. 

What we’ve found over the last five years is that boutique brands like F45 and Barry’s Bootcamp have become very popular because of their ability to deliver more personalised experiences and build community, where people feel included and have that genuine rapport with trainers, fellow members and the brand as a whole. They’re usually more agile, too, as we witnessed with the speedy launch of Barry’s At-home during lockdown. The data that comes from this method of operation helps to reduce cancellations, unpaid membership fees, and more.  

That being said, the bigger gym chains can replicate this personal service by using data to create those extra touchpoints and opportunities. For example, a traditional gym that’s only ever offered in-facility training could create a digital-only or hybrid (digital and physical) membership, using its superstar coaches to record or stream workouts direct to members’ devices. This is effectively transitioning the brand outside the gym, providing value to the consumer, possibly reducing wear and tear on equipment, and increasing the facility’s potential membership. Additionally, a data system could be created with a rule to notify the operator every time drop-off rates fall below a certain level (harder to spot in the large gym chains without the use of data), providing a list of all those people so that immediate, personalised action can be taken to correct this.   

Regardless of size, however, most operators still have some way to go to harness the true power of data. Many of the smaller, boutique gyms and studios are based on a booking mentality, with studios generally holding around 20 people (maybe fewer during Covid because of capacity restrictions), and so they face different challenges. For instance, what happens when five people drop out of a fully booked class, but the people on the waiting list don’t get notified? The operator loses out financially and annoys the people on the waiting list who missed out on an opportunity to have a great experience. However, by creating an algorithm within your data system that redistributes a space out to those on the waiting list when someone cancels, it overcomes that potential issue, while also gamifying the situation (who can grab the space first?) to make the process a little more impersonal, so the operator’s not having to choose one member over another. 

Many boutique operators also sell packages, such as blocks of 10 or 50 classes. What happens when a member stops attending the studio but still has classes left to use? Using an automated system, you can remind members that they have classes remaining to keep them engaged and returning to the facility so, in future, they buy more packages and tell their friends about their experiences, driving referrals. Additionally, if data shows that on the member’s last three visits before they stopped using their class passes, they bought a banana protein shake, you could offer them a free shake the next time they come in to further incentivise and re-engage them. A low-cost, high-impact action that helps to drive attendance, retention and growth. 

Over time, you could see exactly how many people respond to a free shake or a free day pass as part of your re-engagement strategy, then take this a step further by looking at the minor detail. What age brackets are most receptive to this? Which channels are best to target them through? Really understanding what the profiling is within each subset of members, so the next time you plan a sales campaign, you know that 19 to 24-year-olds, for example, solely respond through Instagram and are most attracted by a ‘two for one’ class pass, leading to increased conversion rates. 

A final point to add here is that a data system is only as good as the information put in. For example, it’s hard to market to someone if you don’t have their correct email address or phone number. Thankfully, a system like our virtual hub can spot fake email addresses and spit them out to create and maintain a clean and useful database, so you’re not wasting time marketing to people that don’t exist!  

Don’t take the first digital concept you see!

During Covid-19, it’s understandable that many operators have taken the first digital concept they’ve seen, and not really thought about it in as much detail as they could in terms of post-Covid and their long-term strategy. This is dangerous to the brand and indeed the future success of the business. 

Starbucks is a great example of how not to follow the crowd and, instead, end up with a data system tailored to your unique audience and goals. President and CEO, Kevin Johnson, encapsulated this when he said, “Where others are attempting to build a mobile app, Starbucks has built an end-to-end consumer digital platform anchored around loyalty.” With a customer-centric strategy, Starbucks innovated the mobile order-and-pay app to overcome its customers’ pain points: convenience, line avoidance, and so on. Combined with its expansive loyalty programme, the app gives Starbucks the perfect platform to up-sell and market to coffee-lovers the world over. Furthermore, the app filters back huge amounts of data which can be used to better dissect their customers’ habits and desires. This enables Starbucks to implement new features quicker, deliver more personalised experiences for each customer, and a more integrated experience all-round. 

In this article, it’s clear how Starbuck’s forward-thinking, digital strategy paid off during the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sales from Starbucks Rewards were up 4% on the previous year, which was above the pre-Covid trends, while drive-through and mobile order-and-pay amounted to almost 90% of sales volumes in their latest period. Delivery also made a big difference for the brand. Johnson stated, “We are seeing first-hand the power of integrating physical and digital customer touchpoints to meet customers’ growing need for convenience. Our digital assets have proven to be a competitive advantage.” At Volution, we’d call this the digital, hybrid gym model. 

What Starbucks has done is the difference between using a data system to put a bandaid on a problem, and actually using it as part of an overarching strategy to drive business success. By having the right data, it’s much easier to build that plan so operators can maximise their physical footprints, digital presence and customer journeys. For example, at that vital point when you’re thinking of opening a facility in a new country, you can use the data from your current model and benchmark this off existing facilities within that region and the known cultural differences, to create a model that works. Once up and running, you can then use data in real-time to make the adjustments quicker than waiting until the end of the month to get the report on performance – sales, penetration, uptake in classes, and more. With a virtual hub, all of that information is available immediately from a central dashboard.  

Head office can then compare how facilities are performing across different regions, taking into account their unique differences. So, if the business is doing really well in South East Asia but struggling in China, for example, you can ask the questions, what’s different? What can we learn? Or if the business is doing really well in South East Asia, then this could present an opportunity to expand into Indonesia because the demographics are quite similar. This approach is one we’ve used successfully with Anytime Fitness, helping to translate its offering into new markets. 

Fine-tuning the sales journey to boost member acquisition

As Dan Zarrella said, “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” Thankfully, one of the major benefits of data is that it allows you to better understand – and fine-tune – the customer sales journey. How do you get the lead in? Where does it come from? Who talks to the prospect? How does that then play out? All questions that data can answer.

By digitising and automating as much of the sales process as possible, operators can track the engagement with prospects across all channels (phone, social media, email, etc) to learn which messages, delivery times, journey stages, and channels get the most engagements, and, ultimately, lead to the most member conversions. With the dashboards featured in a virtual hub [Link to virtual hub blog], operators can quickly see their funnel metrics (number of prospects in the awareness, interested, consideration, intent and decision phase of their purchase cycle). Armed with the knowledge of which actions convert the most prospects, and in the best lead times, operators can then optimise their funnels and double-down on the most efficient tactics to drive more memberships and revenue.

Generating secondary spend

One of the brilliant things about data is that it allows you to spot opportunities for generating secondary spend amongst your most engaged members (those most likely to spend money) by understanding what they like to do when they’re inside the facility and then capitalising on this. For example, if you identify that a group of members likes to buy a certain food, drink or supplement after each session, you could target them with a membership package tailored to their tastes. For example, Fitness World in Denmark offers its members the option of paying an extra 100 coronas per month, which means they can enjoy one item from the fridge, such as a protein shake, a protein bar or a bottle of water, per visit. Not only does this help to create a culture, but also an additional revenue stream.   

Ramp up referrals 

As the phrase goes, “happy customers make happy customers.” In other words, if your customers like your product or service, they will refer more. In fact, research shows that brand advocates are 83% more likely to share information about a product than typical web users, and 50% more likely to influence a purchase. Furthermore, word of mouth (referrals) is the primary factor behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions, not to mention that referred customers have 25% higher lifetime value than non-referred members. By using data effectively and utilising a digitised referrals system, you can identify ways to strengthen your internal community and create a feel-good vibe around your business, which, consequently, increases the likelihood of members making referrals to their inner and outer circles.  

Just look at the way Monzo has been able to engage customers and grow a successful business by taking the old brick and mortar bank system and flipping it on its head. Through digitisation, Monzo has made it so easy for people to share money, to pay for items, and to travel. One of the great things about this company is that it’s very open and transparent about what’s coming next. It has a community function in its platform, so you can see on its Trello board what’s being developed and have your input, so it has really understood the power of customer feedback, data, and the desires of the younger generations driving consumer behaviours. What’s stopping gyms for gaining member input this way? Monzo has been successful at standing out from the crowd and differentiating itself. Instead of being transactional in its approach, Monzo has gone community-focused and it’s paying off. If anyone’s in a prime position to adopt this model, it’s gyms, as community is the very foundation upon which they’re built. 

Turn up your team’s efficiency

According to Gallup, an eye-watering “85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work,” causing the global economy approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity. Contributing to this is the fact that employees are interrupted from their work an average of 56 times a day and it takes an average of two hours a day recovering from these interruptions, as getting ‘back into the zone’ isn’t something that just happens instantaneously. 

Of course, every business is different and will have its own unique set of barriers to productivity, but through automating processes, it’s possible to remove distractions, streamline processes, and free up staff, so they can concentrate on what’s most important, like coaching, interacting with members, and keeping the facility Covid-safe by carrying out regular cleaning tasks. Even in the ‘big box’ gyms where personal trainers are self-employed, you can give them the tools – and freedom through automation – that enables them to drive their businesses and gain more customers, generating more revenue for themselves and the facility. 

By automating the prospect journey through a lead management tool, it takes a lot of the ‘hard graft’ away from the sales team, and provides them with the insights to concentrate on the highest converting actions. Additionally, because every action taken by the sales team is logged and time-stamped via a virtual hub, there’s no way of cheating the system and earning commission from work that’s not been completed. 

From an operating perspective, you can see how many Net Promoter Scores have been gathered to understand gauge reputation and member engagement levels, how many free consultations have been delivered by the PT staff, the length of time between a new member joining and them receiving a wellness consultation, and how they are getting approached. A data system can also be used to hold staff members to account by monitoring stock-take versus takings in the cafe area or the number of PT sessions that are actually taking place, highlighting any discrepancies and lost revenue. Of course, there’s buckets more you can do! 

Why Volution should become your tech partner

Now that we’re clear on why data should be central to your ongoing business strategy, how do you choose the right data partner for your business? In a Harvard Business Review article, “Digital Transformation Is Not About Technology,” we’re reminded of the importance of involving the ‘insiders’ – those who understand the daily demands and operations of the business – in this process. Not only will this create buy-in from your team, but it will also ensure that you select a data partner capable of meeting the unique requirements and objectives of your business. If you get this right, you’ll wonder why you’d never done this sooner! 

At Volution, we understand that every business is different and benefits most from a bespoke data solution, which is a lot quicker, cost-effective, and hassle-free than many people would expect.

To give you a brief over, we start by conducting an initial consultation/workshop with the client to really get to know their business and each different aspect of how it operates and functions. Although we can create your entire data systems, our main solutions plug in and bolt on to your existing frameworks, meaning we don’t interfere with the systems you’re currently using  but instead look to unite and evolve your digital ecosystem into one centralised dashboard to exploit opportunities and plug gaps, driving member experience and commercial results. We then suggest and implement the particular modules and data analytics functions required to achieve the operator’s goals, following this up with a second workshop to refine those modules, really drilling down to the base level. For example, there may be differences between clubs which require some of the data functions/analytics to be tweaked. From there, we then build it back up to maximise the results.

Data is an evolving product, so we never just sell a product and walk away, but instead like to become an operator’s data partner, investing our time in your success to build that relationship. Therefore, we don’t charge a development fee, and you only pay for the features that you want.  

It’s not the data, it’s how you use it… 

Data comes from everywhere – emails, social media, surveys, club usage, equipment usage, face-to-face interactions, the list goes on and on. To make sense of it, every business could benefit from more digitisation, and for fitness facilities of all types and sizes, the opportunities are there for the taking.     

But before jumping headfirst into the digital world, it’s important to sit back and think about the fundamentals of your business to understand what data you need and how to filter it. That’s where we come in at Volution; helping you to develop a unique system to match the uniqueness of your brand, audience and goals. One that can be implemented day-to-day, in real-time to get ahead – and stay ahead – creating additional touchpoints with members and automating the trigger points to keep them engaged both inside and outside your facility through a digital, hybrid model. By pulling all of your data together, we allow you to look at data differently and get the ‘full picture’ of your business operations to unlock hidden potential. 

As your true data partner, we will help you to understand the key metrics to make smarter, faster decisions, while also enabling you to future proof your business by identifying opportunities to enhance or expand, such as opening additional clubs in new territories or growing your business digitally through apps, on-demand content or virtual training. And if there’s data you need but no solution available, then we’ll do our very best to create it. 

Perhaps best of all, data gives you the power to really diversify your offering very quickly ,to reflect the desires and expectations of members to keep them engaged and enhance lifetime value. Ultimately, a business that uses data is a business that cares about its customer experience, and this will be reflected in member loyalty, your bottom line, and the longevity of your brand.  

Les Mills article response

Great read here from Les Mills and it really echoes my and the opinions of the team here at Volution.  The digital-hybrid gym model isn’t new, it’s not the outcome of COVID. It’s been around for years and as the article states, some 85% of people have been exercising at home as well as in the gym for some time.  

I am lucky enough to work and talk with some of the leading fitness operators across the world and it’s always interesting to hear the different opinions about digital. Some are cautiously monitoring it, hoping it’ll go away, some don’t believe it will stick / stay long, while others are frantically trying to embrace it, and some are doing well at implementing and offering it to their members.    

For the foreseeable future, fitness clubs will likely have fewer members attending their physical premises. That’s why it’s never been so important to use data to make better, smarter, real-time decisions to increase the lifetime value of each remaining member by as many months/years as possible – while also driving secondary spend – to maintain and increase revenue. The key to this is a strong digital offer which is engaging and results driven for your members.  .  

Virtual engagement, like offline engagement, is the sum of many parts. It’s not simply creating killer email campaigns, liking your members’ posts on Facebook or having your superstar coaches deliver incredible group training sessions online. It’s all of those things, and so much more. And just as every fitness brand or club is different, so too should its digital platform. In the pre-Covid world, operators mainly used ‘off the shelf’ products to manage their member engagement, but in the post-Covid world, there’s a need for something more sophisticated. Something bespoke. Something that fits the unique identity of the brand/club, its members and your commercial goals.

To achieve this, there’s no need to throw away all of your existing systems. Far from it. We want you to keep them. What we’re actually suggesting is that clubs need a solution that brings all of these systems together to maximise them all, driving acquisition, engagement, retention and revenue. Something that plugs gaps, bolts on, generates opportunities and is quick, effortless and cost-effective to integrate.

A digital platform gives your members access to the superstar coaches and trainers they’ve built relationships with at your facility over the months and years they’ve been members. With additional opportunities for member-trainer interaction through online training, coaching, classes, and support, this can significantly boost customer engagement, satisfaction and retention rates, driving people back towards your gym (the online to offline model). 

Although many people will have experimented with all kinds of virtual classes and trainers during lockdown, most would still prefer to be coached by someone they know, like, and trust. Not providing this opportunity to your members could mean they look elsewhere. Using a digital platform stops this happening and brings your community closer.

Coupled with the above, data insights can be used to set KPIs that encourage your staff to be better and help to make them accountable for their decisions and actions. Giving staff real-time visibility on progress towards KPIs keeps them on track, with a positive knock-on effect for member engagement. 

The digital-hybrid model is here to stay.  If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be seeing the likes of Apple planning to launch the Apple+, Facebook looking to commercialise fitness live-streaming or a 360 per cent increase in Peloton shares since March this year.

We urge operators to act now to look at how you can evolve and adapt. As this article states – “Silicon Valley’s biggest players are sizing up the fitness market – and they’re coming for your members”.  We can help.  We have bespoke solutions that can enable you to get up and running with a strong and bespoke digital offer in less than six weeks.  We can demonstrate the impact and drive commercial growth.  Please, reach out today for an informal chat and I can show you how our systems work and the best thing is; digital solutions don’t break your budgets! 

Andy Hall, Sales Director

How can member engagement drive more secondary spend revenue?

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We know we need to engage more with our members, but what exactly does effective member engagement deliver? Lifetime value – yes.  Member retention – yes.  More referrals – yes.  Done right, it can also be a key driver of your secondary spend. Auxiliary spend will be an area we know is going to be critical to commercial success in 2020 and beyond, especially as operators get to grips with new operational procedures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as capped capacities.   

Since facilities were forced to close in March 2020, we’ve seen brands such as PureGym pivot their business models to offer home fitness equipment to their members, recognising the importance of driving revenue into the business during a time of uncertainty.    

And historically, we’ve seen the likes of Virgin Active and David Lloyd Leisure lead the way in terms of generating secondary spend, driven by high dwell time and high-end food and beverage outlets. You’ll often find members enjoying their morning work out followed by a day spent in the cafe working. Add to this additional services from kids soft play, tennis lessons, PT, parties, and clothing, they’ve seen a very healthy income from getting this part (as well as other areas of the business) right. And, of course, none of this can be achieved without the help of data to make smart business decisions.   

More recently, the boutique market has been shaking the dust off this approach and driving quick wins around secondary spend. Instead of installing high-end food and beverage areas, they have been able to maximise their reception desk to install protein shake stations, smoothie stations, and sell over-the-counter food on the go.  

1Rebel, as reported by Health Club Management, is a great example of how to develop secondary spend, driving multiple benefits for its business. The boutique fitness brand acknowledges that if the member experience isn’t good, they won’t be coming back for more. An important part of this involves ‘selling’ to its members every time they step through the doors. Recognising that ‘I’m healthy and I’m wealthy’ is a statement that today’s consumers want to make, and capitalising on the ‘fitness-and-fashion’ trend, 1Rebel sells t-shirts and hoodies to crop tops and street-to-gym-wear. This enables its members to achieve a ‘look’ that represents them and their connection with the brand. Beyond secondary spend, this creates awareness, builds loyalty, increases brand advocacy, and drives sell-out sessions. 

Two different approaches, two different audiences, but both doing well because they know their members and customers; trust that starts with the brand and is reciprocated by its customers in the form of increased spend.

The way forward – a solid defence and protection strategy 

There’s no doubt about it, operators are facing incredible challenges. Key to a successful defence and protection strategy is to look at alternative areas to drive revenue. For this to be successful, and to see secondary spend increase, operators will need their member engagement strategy to be firing on all cylinders, requiring accurate data to drive it. 

We know that assisted members deliver a higher lifetime value; they attend more frequently, they are more loyal and they refer more people.  

As we’ve seen in our previous blog, the better we are at delivering a good member engagement strategy, the happier and more loyal our members are.

Impact 

Think about the impact a great member engagement strategy could have on your secondary spend. What would the impact be if you enhanced or started to offer a range of other brands, products or services, such as at-home fitness equipment, home-delivered nutrition packages and subscriptions, clothing, virtual PT sessions; all delivering you a ort kick-back? A great exercise for your finance team to scope out!    

Done right, your brand could be seen as a health hub, delivering and recommending a network of partnerships that support and enable your members to lead a healthier, happier lifestyle – something we all want. A report showed that millions of Brits class themselves as ‘too busy’ to be healthy. More than half of the people polled said they want to eat healthily and get plenty of exercise – but are hindered by their hectic lifestyles, and two thirds admitted they often eat ‘badly’ because they don’t have the time to prepare nutritious food.  Imagine if, at the touch of a button, you could offer your members access to everything they needed to lead a healthier lifestyle… we think they’d be pretty happy! 

Most of us will admit we are time-poor and will do what we can to claw back time – where we can; whether this is buying ready-grated cheese, having a cleaner, using dry shampoo, or simply sending emails late at night whilst you have dinner or attempt to watch TV. 

However, on the flip side, research shows that Millennials and Gen Z – often dubbed ‘the wellness generation’ – now make up 80% of health club members and have a more intense focus on holistic health. This means it can really pay to expand your offering to provide other services that make you ‘more than just a gym’ – looking after the minds, bodies and souls of your members.

Recommendations

It’s not rocket science to recognise the power of personal recommendations. How many times have you looked at a product or service off the back of a friend or family member recommending it to you? And how many times have you bought something online after the website you were shopping on recommended it? 

Let’s apply this to your network of facilities. If you have the right engagement strategy and you have a membership base of avid members, think of the impact recommendations for additional services and products could have on them? If you’ve fine-tuned your strategy and you’re engaging with your members both virtually and in-club, the trust level will be high. You’re already serving them content and classes they like and are benefiting from. Add to this third party brands and services, all giving you a healthy kick-back on sales, and it’s a win, win.  

Summary 

You have the potential to offer your members everything they need in a bid to become healthier, happier versions of themselves, and what’s more, you can drive significant revenue to your business. By recognising the part you play and seeing the bigger picture by utilising the data, you have, at your fingertips, the power to navigate your way through this time and continue to drive your revenue now and years ahead. 

Getting members engaged

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What do Amazon, Netflix and Cadburys all have in common? They are nailing personalised marketing and the key to doing this is data. Data rules in all modern businesses but if you want yours to deliver genuine commercial results, it’s about collecting data, personalising it, tracking it and learning from it.  

Netflix is in over a third of U.S. households and, in the UK, has over 13 million subscribers. The success of Netflix comes from its intuitive data platform and expansive range of content, but what it has done better than any other brand on the market, is turn “customer engagement” into an exact science. The platform has prioritised learning who its customers are and how to reach them. It takes our viewing data and serves up personalised recommendations based on our habits and likes. To learn from this global zeitgeist, we must adopt more sophisticated data strategies and view member engagement as part of our daily operational systems.  

Personalisation isn’t new, but to succeed, your service, your marketing and your communications need to be tailored to your audience/membership – understanding their likes, dislikes, motivations, and goals.  

We are at the epicentre of some of the biggest shifts in society and this in itself presents its own challenges and considerations. Today, we are more aware than ever before of our health and wellbeing, and we expect brands, businesses we buy from, and even companies we work for, to recognise the part they play and take ownership of these issues in partnership with us. 

51% of consumers expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they make contact. 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalisation, with more than half reporting a lift greater than 10%. In fact, 81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to.

Engaging with members is more than an email on their birthday or offering them a couple of guest passes each year. Effective member engagement goes deeper and is often about understanding their needs, wants, issues and even worries and concerns, and creating solutions to help and support them.   

For clubs and operators with thousands of members, this can sound quite a task but with data-tracking, member engagement is far simpler than ever before. At the touch of a button – using a virtual hub – you can view trends, opportunities, issues and instantly capture the mood of your membership.  

Member engagement starts from the moment someone becomes a member; from the first needs analysis, you should begin to build up a profile of what makes this person tick. Creating a simple questionnaire about their lifestyle, habits, family life, work, current health, and more can provide the data and insight required to start your data-driven member engagement strategy. By plugging in the right data-application, you can start to create bespoke and personalised tactics that drive usage, engagement and outcomes that can all be tracked and monitored.  

The right data partner will enable and encourage you to use your current and future data in a more intuitive way in a bid to serve up recommendations and different products to support members achieve more; as Netflix and Amazon do so well. The simplest way we know how to do this in the first instance is to encourage and promote your assisted products such as group exercise classes or PT. We know that this leads to increased retention. Research by IHRSA showed that “the risk of cancelling is 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers.” whilst another study found that members who take part in just one group exercise class per week are “20% more likely to be loyal members than those who visit three times per week and only workout on the gym floor”. 

Your superstar team 

We’ve all been to a fitness class with a standout instructor; one who blows your mind and makes you want to return time after time. You’re probably thinking about members of your team right now. Perhaps you have a PT who has a waiting list of six months? How can you bottle up this magic and spread it amongst more members in a bid to inspire, motivate and ultimately drive more revenue? It’s pretty simple really, you can use data and digital strategies to stream and host these classes and sessions 24/7. We aren’t suggesting you change your model of operation to become the next Les Mills On Demand, but you should be capturing these magic moments and using them to engage and galvanize your current and future membership base.

A data-driven virtual hub gives your members access to the superstar coaches and trainers with opportunities to increase member-trainer touchpoints and interaction through online training, coaching, classes, and support. This can significantly boost engagement and retention rates not to mention giving you rich-data information to learn from.  

Virtual hubs show which classes, PTs, and even equipment have the highest and lowest attendance and usage levels. From there, you can swap low performing classes with more high performing classes (online and offline) and see the direct effect this has on club attendance and lifetime value of members.  

You’ll also be able to learn who is attending your clubs, classes, PTs, and more importantly, who isn’t attending. Finding out what is, and isn’t, working for your members is valuable insight that can help you to adapt your strategies and act early to retain and acquire members. 

Leverage your facility through ‘fitfluencers’

Alongside being able to maximise the potential of your ‘superstar team,’ a virtual hub gives you the ability to stream live or recorded classes from any instructor, anywhere in the world to complement your in-house staff. No longer are you restricted to just your community of coaches. You could potentially team up with fitness influencers or other commercial brands to create even more inspiring content to reach and engage new audiences.

Why not have an amazing, Insta-famous Yoga teacher stream one class a week to all of your members across all of your facilities nationwide? Not only could this ‘sprinkling of stardust’ elevate your business locally, but you may even attract people from other countries around the world that want to take out a ‘digital membership’ with your club just because of the ‘fitfluencers’ on your books. The opportunities are endless…

Driving secondary spend 

Linked closely to effective member engagement is the increase of secondary spend and when executed in the right way, engaged members can drive your auxiliary revenue. The reason for this is pretty simple; trust. People buy from brands they trust. Therefore, if you recommend brands and services to your members, the data tells you that they are more likely to buy as they trust you know them.  

And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that all this activity drives the lifetime value of a member.   

Case study of effective member engagement through the effective use of data – Anytime Fitness 

Working with Anytime Fitness, we’ve been able to deliver data-driven member engagement strategies to secure the operational stability of 100+ clubs across the Philippines.  

The challenge:

One of the largest fitness centre chains in the Philippines, Anytime Fitness tasked Volution with an urgent challenge to deliver a technical solution bespoke to their needs that would keep them operational during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Following the news that all Anytime Fitness locations in the Philippines would be temporarily shut down due to Covid-19, Anytime Fitness quickly realised that their membership base wouldn’t be able to engage with their services as normal – and that apprehension to do so may remain for some time. 

Any remote-focused solution would need to be driven by digital expertise and bespoke to their needs as a business. They couldn’t have an “off the shelf” product that didn’t quite fit the bill.  

The process 

It was clear Anytime Fitness needed a virtual platform and mobile application that allowed its team to continue to deliver personal training sessions from any location.

Developed within a matter of days, members were able to log in to a personalised portal, which had all the Anytime Fitness branding. They were able to book Virtual PT sessions, join live or pre-recorded classes and create their own at-home workouts, all within just a few clicks.

The outcomes

  • 14.2% increase in PT revenue 
  • All staff remain employed during the lockdown period
  • Increase of $1M in revenue through data analytics and digitisation 
  • 50% of members who have signed up to the virtual hub so far are using assisted services for the first time, enhancing their engagement with the brand

The launch of this virtual hub was critical to operational stability. It kept revenue flowing and helped to minimise financial disruption and allowed senior management to maintain their budget with ease. Member engagement was high, even when members couldn’t physically visit their local gym.  

The beauty of launching a virtual hub was that it integrated perfectly into the current operating systems and, from the moment it was launched, the team had the ability to generate proprietary data insights.  

Anytime Fitness was able to monitor data visualisations of each of their selected KPIs in real-time from a central dashboard. Senior managers were able to track key trends in user engagement, how many PT sessions had been sold, where penetration rates were high, which classes were proving more popular, and how much revenue had been generated.

Shift managers also benefited directly by giving them a clear view of staff availability, which has since led to fewer complications in scheduling and far less risk of double-bookings.

Anytime Fitness’ decision to integrate a remote module has ultimately allowed them to stay operational and sustain revenue throughout the most challenging crisis of our time – though the impact of this project goes much further than that.

By taking this opportunity now, the brand has opened a new revenue stream that will continue to support the growth of their business for years to come.

Summary

What’s clear is that without a decent data strategy, you can kiss personalisation goodbye. The key to personalisation is data. And as personalisation is the key to winning the retention battle, data should be your focus. So, what will you do to become more data-driven? Perhaps it’s time to create a bespoke virtual hub for your business…

3 steps to set up your virtual hub

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We’ve explored what it means to engage with members virtually, how to achieve this, and why it’s so vital as we enter the ‘post-Covid’ age. Now, let’s have a look at how you can set up a virtual hub to take full advantage of the opportunities available to enhance member engagement, retention and lifetime value. 

You’ll be pleased to know that building and integrating a virtual hub involves just three straightforward steps, meaning you can be up and running in no time, unlocking even more of your business’ potential. 

Step 1: Brand Identity

We understand just how important it is to maintain brand consistency. It’s a pattern of expression that affects the way people think about your business. The more consistent your visual branding and messaging, the more you’re able to grow awareness around your club and develop trust and loyalty with your members, which subsequently drives results. In fact, research states that “a coherent brand presentation across all platforms will increase revenue by up to 23%.” Our virtual hubs are white labelled, so using your company’s colours, fonts, logos, and media assets, we can design the app and dashboard of your virtual hub to perfectly match your brand and fit seamlessly within your website or alongside your existing systems. 

Step 2: Company and Member Data

To populate your virtual hub with club and member data, it couldn’t be simpler. By downloading the data from your existing CRM systems, this can be quickly and efficiently transferred to your virtual hub through a series of hassle-free migrations. With your club details, trainer information, and that all-important member data added to your virtual hub, you’re now in a position to start utilising all of the data and insights available to enhance your engagement levels and maximise the success of your business. 

Step 3: Payment System

You choose whether you’d like to create a pay-as-you-go or subscription model for your virtual hub and, better still, we can integrate with any existing payment gateway, such as Stripe, Paypal and PayFort. If you opt for a subscription model, we’d need to define access to products based on the subscription levels and the monthly instalment plans you wish to offer. If you opt for pay-as-you-go, we’d need to know how much each product/service costs, whether members can make single or bulk purchases, and if any complimentary products form part of your membership packages or reward schemes. We’d also need to factor in any ‘free trials’ that you’d like to include as part of your marketing strategy. 

It can be an exciting process coming up with all the great new products, services and initiatives you’re able to offer now that you have a way of engaging physically and virtually with your members – increasing opportunities for additional revenue and secondary spend.

What does the virtual hub look like? 

The virtual hub would be hosted on your website via a portal, with the option to have an app. Members can use the online portal or app to manage their subscriptions, access live and on-demand content, book PT sessions, update their profiles, track goals, and so much more. 

From the operator’s perspective, KPIs, reporting, analytics and uploading in-house content, would all be managed via the control panel of the web portal. Through the app, staff can perform functions, such as scheduling and monitoring classes, communicating with members, and delivering virtual content

During the ‘discovery sessions’ at the beginning of every project/partnership, we make sure that we fully understand the uniqueness of the client’s business so that we can create a bespoke virtual hub that contains all of the reports, analytics, trends, and admin features they require to increase efficiency and profitability. As data people, we’re all about the details, and believe that every virtual hub should be tailored to the client’s needs and goals. It’s what drives us. 

And, as an added bonus, there is nothing to pay during the design phase, meaning you’re able to keep valuable money inside your business until the virtual hub is ready to be implemented.     

Summary

IHRSA summed it up brilliantly when they said, “Across the industry, the perception of technology is shifting from a standalone silo to a package of member experience tools that should be integrated throughout the business.” And, especially in testing times, we need to make this technology work harder than ever for our businesses to survive, and thrive. 
As you can see, setting up a virtual hub is a quick and pain-free process. With a virtual hub in place, you’ll be able to provide digital content (classes and PT sessions) to your members via a purely ‘digital hybrid’ membership. Going far beyond simply offering Facebook or Instagram Live classes, each virtual hub is completely bespoke, measurable, and created to deliver commercial returns from day one. It enables you to offer both a virtual and ‘bricks and mortar’ service, connecting the dots between home fitness and the gym environment to deliver an engaging, ‘joined-up’ member experience. With a slick online presence, this enables you to channel members back towards your physical sites, driving commercial results.

The future is virtual, so let’s get started!

How to engage members virtually

Virtual engagement, like offline engagement, is the sum of many parts. It’s not simply creating killer email campaigns, liking your members’ posts on Facebook or having your superstar coaches deliver incredible group training sessions online. It’s all of those things, and so much more. And just as every fitness brand or club is different, so too should its digital platform. In the pre-Covid world, operators mainly used ‘off the shelf’ products to manage their member engagement, but in the post-Covid world, there’s a need for something more sophisticated. Something bespoke. Something that fits the unique identity of the brand/club, its members and your commercial goals.

To achieve this, there’s no need to throw away all of your existing systems. Far from it. We want you to keep them. What we’re actually suggesting is that clubs need a solution that brings all of these systems together to maximise them all, driving acquisition, engagement, retention and revenue. Something that plugs gaps, bolts on, generates opportunities and is quick, effortless and cost-effective to integrate. And it does exist. Let us show you how you can leverage such a platform…

WARNING… Data… but don’t be afraid!

Data is one of those words that can strike fear into even the most experienced operators, but it shouldn’t. All too often, data can be perceived as overcomplicated, built up. Personally, we prefer to think of it as ‘growing a business.’

Used correctly, data can help you to make better decisions, faster. It can automate actions to happen at the exact moments that are shown to increase conversion while enabling you to maximise touchpoints to increase member attendance and lifetime value (LTV), especially amongst your ‘unengaged’ members. Added to that, is the sheer scope of data… From member experience/attendance data, to member wearable data linked to club use, to membership engagement levels, retention, longevity and churn, we’re only just scratching the service of what can be tracked. Metrics that can help operators to make intelligent moves that have a tangible effect on their businesses. The possibilities are almost endless…

Access and visibility of data

To engage your members as effectively as possible, it’s essential that you can see all of your data in one place via a central dashboard. It means that you can track trends between data sets, such as class and personal trainer attendance, showing increased club attendance and LTV. Having a dashboard to compare clubs (if you operate multiple sites) can also help you make more accurate high-level decisions (i.e. some club data might be different from others and require a different decision). With the ‘full picture’ of what engagement looks like across your facilities, you can fine-tune your models for best practice and make more accurate, and much quicker, micro-decisions.

Member experience

We all know that an increased member experience directly links to a member being more engaged and staying with a club for longer. If a member is having a good experience, they are less likely to churn and vice versa. To demonstrate this, research has shown that a promoter (someone that gives a business a 9-10 rating) has a lifetime value to a company that’s six to 14 times that of a detractor (0-6 rating). On the flip side, 67% of consumers cite bad experiences as a reason for churn.

Thankfully, data can show you which members are having a good experience and the correlation between this and their interactions with your club/brand. Of course, this is the same for those having a bad experience. Easily accessible and comparable data across multiple sources allows you to learn who is attending your clubs, classes, PT sessions and, more importantly, who isn’t attending. This means you can increase penetration rates by performing actions such as replacing low-performing classes with more high-performing classes, seeing the direct effect this has on club attendance and LTV.

Data also allows you to spot tasks that can be automated, providing your team with more time to concentrate on the important things like building great relationships – key for online and offline engagement or simply delivering more cleaning hours! What’s more, data enables you to ‘cut the fat’ by seeing which machines are being used the most and least. You can then get rid of the ineffective equipment and replace it with more of what your members like or exciting, new pieces that will delight your gym community and attract more people to your facility.

By more efficiently spending your money and resources and stopping doing the things that cause bad experiences, you can increase the ‘things’ that make great experiences – massively enhancing member engagement. But, it’s important to point out that data is most effective when it becomes part of your day-to-day operations; not something that’s checked at the end of the week or in a monthly board meeting. Through a purpose-built digital platform, data can fit seamlessly into the life of a club to provide the constant insight that drives results.

Generating secondary spend

According to Forbes, customers are likely to spend 140% more after a positive experience than those who report a negative experience. So, knowing who is having a good and bad experience in your club allows you to approach the most engaged members to upsell and create secondary spend. Data provides insight on member actions and the types of members buying certain products, as well as those who should be targeted.

You could even launch new products, like merchandise, food/drinks, digital memberships, exercise education courses, and at-home equipment, using data to show which products have a good ROI and are worth pursuing further. If members are able to purchase or be rewarded with club-branded clothing, for example, it can help to make them feel part of a community/tribe – increasing their engagement – and it effectively becomes free advertising (a walking billboard) for your club.
Member targeting

Who doesn’t love a reward? In fact, a report shows that 87% of consumers are open to having details of their activity and behaviour monitored in order to receive access to personalised rewards or engagement. A digital platform allows a club to target more personalised and direct messages to the right members at the right time. For example, members who are attending clubs and buying products should be receiving regular reminders of the rewards they are benefiting from.

This is really important considering 18% of consumers say incentives always sway them to pick one brand over another, even when they’re loyal to the brand without rewards. The good news is that 67% of savvy Millennials and Gen Z consumers welcome email reminders from brands and retailers that highlight previously viewed products, and may also contain personalised offers/rewards. Running a successful fitness club is all about the ‘marginal gains,’ so having systems in place to make sure that members aren’t missing out on ‘club perks’ can make a big difference to your engagement levels and bottom line.

Another factor to consider here is referral marketing. As we described in our previous blog, referrals can be one of the highest converting channels for fitness clubs – and will be even more important in the post-COVID world with health and safety-conscious consumers turning to the people they know and trust before deciding on which gym to join. But referral schemes only work if they’re delivered to the right members, at the right times, and with the right reward. Technology makes this simple.

Tiers to engage every member

Every members’ experience of the pandemic will have been unique to them, therefore, they will all be at different stages emotionally and physically in terms of their willingness and ability to return to the gym. Some will be rushing to get back while others will be more reluctant or wishing to take more gradual steps to re-induct themselves. Others may not be able to return because of underlying health reasons or being in the ‘high risk’ category.

The beauty of a digital platform and ‘virtual engagement’ is that it enables you to stay in touch with members every step of the way, so you never lose connection. It also allows you to offer different tiers of membership to suit members with varying needs, expectations, personality types, and comfort levels.

Tier One could be a ‘digital-only’ membership, which gives access to all of your facility’s live, recorded, and streamed classes, as well as workouts and PT sessions, from the comfort of the member’s home. Tier Two could give members access to all the online content and a capped number of gym visits per month. And Tier Three could consist of all the online content, plus unlimited gym sessions.

Of course, there are many other ways you could structure this. You may want a fourth tier, providing a purely physical membership for those who aren’t interested in virtual training, and for when we return to ‘normal’ (i.e. when the virus has been brought under control and we no longer need the same social distancing measures). Although, we’re pretty sure that most of your members would prefer one of the ‘hybrid’ packages to take advantage of the full range of benefits (physical and virtual) on offer, particularly considering the world’s increased affection and understanding of technology, generated by the pandemic.

Engaging prospects and generating leads

Some people, given the nature of their jobs, maybe working from home for the foreseeable future, or spending less time at the office, and, therefore, are searching for facilities closer to home. Others may be looking for that ‘hybrid’ model, allowing them to mix physical gym sessions with virtual sessions to continue what they started – and enjoyed – during lockdown. And, of course, there will be those who may not feel the need to attend a gym anymore in light of how successfully they’ve been able to train at home, needing a fair amount of convincing to return!

So, alongside battling to retain existing members, you’ll also be competing to acquire the ‘new pool’ of potential customers that have cancelled their memberships elsewhere, or who now want to join a gym after re-igniting or discovering their passion for fitness during lockdown. The beauty of a digital platform is that it offers a ‘shop window’ into your facility to attract these new leads. For example, you could offer prospects the chance to sign up for a free trial of your online membership (Tier One) via your digital platform, enabling them to get a flavour for the club, PTs, classes, and all the other services on offer to whet their appetites and entice them to join.

Tracking conversions

Now that you have a method in place for generating more leads, you need a way to monitor and fine-tune your sales and marketing strategies to maximise conversions. With a digital platform, you can track engagement with prospects across all channels, as well as spotting work duplicates and gaps so you don’t annoy potential members with loads of emails, texts and phone calls from different club staff.

Through a virtual dashboard, you can learn which messages, delivery times, and channels get the most engagements, and ultimately, lead to the most member conversions. You can also quickly see your funnel metrics and identify the tactics that move the most prospects into the next phase the fastest. You can then double down on what’s working best and use this to form a successful and repeatable algorithm for your business.

Maximise your superstar trainers

A digital platform gives your members access to the superstar coaches and trainers they’ve built relationships with at your facility. With additional opportunities for member-trainer interaction through online training, coaching, classes, and support, this can significantly boost customer engagement, satisfaction and retention rates, driving people back towards your gym (the online to offline model).

Although many people will have experimented with all kinds of virtual classes and trainers during lockdown, most would still prefer to be coached by someone they know, like, and trust. Not providing this opportunity to your members could mean they look elsewhere. Using a digital platform stops this happening and brings your community closer.

Coupled with the above, data insights can be used to set KPIs that encourage your staff to be better and help to make them accountable for their decisions and actions. Giving staff real-time visibility on progress towards KPIs keeps them on track, with a positive knock-on effect for member engagement.

Summary (embracing the ‘hybrid’ model)…

Data shouldn’t be overwhelming. It’s something to be embraced and can become an operator’s best friend if integrated into the inner fabric of a facility. With the right offerings and strategies in place – driven by data – this will help your members to become more engaged and, importantly, form habits with your club/brand. Once that habit loop is formed, retention becomes much easier and cheaper and LTV rockets.

As we move into this new era for the industry – we believe that a ‘digital hybrid’ membership model is key. Clubs will need a digital platform that allows you to offer both a ‘bricks and mortar’ and virtual service, bridging the gap between home exercise and the gym to successfully unite the ‘fitness ecosystem’ and create a highly effective and engaging, end-to-end member experience. Central to this is having a digital platform with a central dashboard that is completely bespoke, measurable, and created to deliver commercial returns from day one.

Why member engagement can make or break your operation

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Retention, retention, retention… it’s often what keeps us all awake at night.  A stat you’ll be all too familiar with is that it costs five times as much to attract a new member compared to keeping an existing one; it’s obvious why retention is a key driver of long-term profitability. As further evidence of this, Frederick Reichheld (Inventor of the Net Promoter Score) found that increasing member retention rates by 5% increased profits by between 25% and 95%!

With research showing that the UK fitness industry loses about 3.9 million users every year, and 50% of a club’s members quit within that time according to IHRSA – not to mention the 80% of members that join in January and quit within the first five months – retention has always been a constant battle. 

With the unique circumstances surrounding Covid-19, it’s become an even greater challenge. In fact, just 30% of people feel comfortable about returning to their gyms, according to a YouGov survey, so what can operators do to re-engage and retain the rather staggering 70%? 

Increasing referrals  

Everyone knows that referrals are a chief mode of acquisition for fitness clubs, but with Covid-19 giving rise to a new set of behaviours, fears and expectations, they are going to be even more vital in this next chapter for the sector. Personal recommendations could be the reassurance that prospects need and a key avenue for generating new memberships. 

According to a report by Nielsen, “83% of consumers say they trust the recommendations of friends and family.” Added to that, “66% say they trust consumer opinions posted online.” This shows that not only does the ‘power of referrals’ stretch outside a person’s inner circle, but having a virtual strategy for referrals is essential. 

In terms of the effect on revenue, “people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend” and “customers referred by loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate,” so it makes complete business sense to dial in on referrals, both one and offline.   

Capitalising on an engaged audience

A recent survey found that “62% of adults in England say it’s more important to be active now, compared to before coronavirus.” And with 44% of people doing a home-based activity, including 23% doing online workouts (which is 7.4% higher than gym membership penetration) it’s going to pay to ensure you’re engaging with your members.

What systems do you have in place that encourage and incentivise your members to refer your facility to their social communities? 

Upselling and secondary spend 

By using technology, we can create a more ‘certain’ future. Using a virtual system to understand who is having a good experience and a bad experience (online and offline) allows you to target members to upsell and create a secondary spend. Members having a good experience are more likely to spend additional money. As well as boosting in-facility spending, this can also help to reduce a club’s reliance on offline income. This will be important as we transition through the phases of Covid-19, considering that we’re yet to find out how many members will return immediately once gyms reopen this summer. 

Increasing lifetime value

Despite the challenges we face, operators have a great opportunity to engage their members and increase lifetime value (LTV). Because many gyms are operating digitally, it’s opened up countless new possibilities for staying ‘connected’ with members, which were limited with the ‘bricks and mortar’ model. The good news is that tracking this doesn’t have to be any more difficult; in fact, it can be even simpler – and more empowering – for the facility.

Using a virtual hub, an operator can see the ‘full picture’ of how members are interacting with their business (both physically and digitally). Through data, it becomes clear how your online and offline offer can work together to deliver a more ‘joined-up’ member experience that drives engagement and retention – perfect as we enter the era of the ‘hybrid’ gym, combining a virtual and physical presence. And with a central dashboard, an operator can see the length of stay for each product or service (online and offline) their facility offers, all in one place – making it easy to be proactive and make smart business decisions. Here’s just one example…

Research by IHRSA showed that “the risk of cancelling is 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers.” whilst another study found that members who take part in just one group exercise class per week are “20% more likely to be loyal members than those who visit three times per week and only workout on the gym floor”. So, you would anticipate that members involved in group exercise would remain with your club for longer. And if not, why not? What needs to change to make sure your group exercise classes are performing in the right way? If you can turn this around, it’s going to make a BIG difference to your facility’s bottom line. Once again, data holds the key…

Using member usage statistics, you can identify which classes and PTs have the highest and lowest attendance levels. You can then adjust your offering to give members more of what they want, creating a positive uplift in club attendance, member engagement and LTV. This type of data also allows you to identify the best routes to take to help your members develop long-lasting habits with your brand and club. The data will show you which type of fitness and fitness products your members need to consume, and when, in order to form those habits. Once a habit loop is formed, retention becomes much easier and cheaper.

Don’t miss the boat (examples of proactive brands)…

Anytime Fitness is a great example of a brand that has been quick to react to the changing landscape. Following the news that each of their 120+ on-site locations in the Philippines would temporarily shut because of Covid-19, Anytime Fitness selected Volution to design a virtual platform and mobile application that allowed it to deliver first-class personal training sessions from any location. With the new platform in place, members can log in to a personalised portal to book virtual PT sessions, join live or pre-recorded classes or create their own at-home workouts, all within just a few clicks. This has kept revenue flowing and engagement high, even when members couldn’t physically visit their local gym. 

Ryan Cheal, from Anytime Fitness, said: “One of the biggest advantages that came with integrating this digital system is the ability to generate proprietary data insights. As soon as the solution launched, Anytime we were able to monitor data visualisations of each of our selected KPIs in real-time from a central dashboard.

This enabled senior managers to track key trends in user engagement, how many PT sessions had been sold, where penetration rates were high, which classes were proving more popular and how much revenue had been generated. Shift managers also benefited directly by giving them a clear view of staff availability, which has since led to fewer complications in scheduling and far less risk of double-bookings.

Of the members currently using the Anytime Fitness platform, around 50% of those hadn’t interacted with an ‘assisted product’ before – meaning a large proportion of ‘high risk’ members are now engaging more actively with the brand, which should lead to improved retention.

The shrewd decision taken by Anytime Fitness to integrate a remote module has ultimately allowed them to stay operational and sustain revenue throughout the most challenging crisis of our time – although the impact of this project goes much further than that. By taking this opportunity now, Anytime Fitness has opened a new revenue stream that will continue to support the growth of their business for years to come.

Another brand quick to up its virtual game was boutique operator, Frame. At the end of March, just weeks after the UK entered lockdown, the Frame Online platform was launched. Designed to keep members engaged, it offers three genres of workouts – Sweat, Sculpt and Party – with a “class to suit every mood”. Particularly interesting considering the range of emotion people are going through during lockdown. 

Consisting of 18 classes in total, these three genres are said to “transport users from their home straight into the Frame studio”. In addition to Frame Online, members also have the option of personalised, one-to-one, virtual training with their favourite instructors. 

Also worth noting is that Frame Online is available free of charge to NHS staff, police and teachers. By supporting the country’s key workers in this way, Frame has made its members feel proud to be associated with the brand. Not to mention that after the pandemic, all of these key workers may well sign up as members because of the care and generosity that’s been shown towards them.

Having a purpose-built, bespoke digital platform means you won’t get left behind by the crowd. Instead, you’ll have new ways to engage members by connecting the dots between home and gym, new opportunities to develop additional revenue streams and secondary spend, and an overview of your business that you’ve never had before, enabling you to increase member acquisition and retention. Is it time you grew your virtual capabilities?