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3 Steps To Adding A Virtual Membership Option To Your Business Model

Our recent series of articles have explored how to set up and market a successful online fitness offering. But how can you use virtual offerings to your advantage? How can you monetise virtual classes? What’s more, how can you permanently incorporate virtual membership packages to your business model?

Step 1: Think about how you’ll design your virtual fitness package

Well-designed virtual membership packages will not only help boost your profits and generate growth, but they also help your members get better results. There are three key things to consider when putting together a virtual membership option for your business:

1. Identify what you can offer – think about what your members are looking for, what their goals are, and why they should come to you. This could be a specialist offering only you can provide, or anything else that sets your services and brand apart from others (e.g. particular style of workouts, star instructors, etc.)

2. Build a features list – this is what’s included in your package. Tailoring them depends on what online services you plan on offering and the specific needs of your members, but a basic one could include:

  • Access to exclusive content on your website or app
  • Nutritional advice or a tailored nutrition plan
  • One-to-one support with their favourite trainer via video conferencing

3. Create your online package which describes who your packages would be ideal for, what kind of results members can expect, your features list and how they’ll benefit individuals, the price, and a specific call-to-action (such as a sign-up button!).

Step 2: Make sure you price your online workouts effectively

Nobody is going to want to invest in your product if the price isn’t right. Therefore, you’ll need to think about how much to charge your members – or if you’ll even charge at all.

If your premises are closed, you may decide that offering your virtual workouts for free is a great way to maintain close contact with your members and still deliver them value for money for their membership.

If you’ve decided to keep billing your members during closures and lockdowns, then offering virtual workouts and other value-added services are a great way to retain members and avoid the risk of them cancelling their membership.

For example, Waterside Hotel & Leisure Club was quick to move to offering virtual classes online during the first lockdown. The family-friendly, Manchester-based leisure club took advantage of the livestreaming functionality available within the Waterside member app to offer members classes free of charge. Virtual classes are also online and as a library for members to access on-demand at their own convenience.

Kim Power, Member Relationship Manager, Waterside Hotel and Leisure Club, says:
As we had the Waterside app, we could quickly move to offer our members virtual classes both on-demand and livestreamed when we needed to close. Getting set up was as simple as an instructor using their tablet or smartphone to deliver a class virtually for members to access via the app or our website. We offered this for free during the first lockdown, as well as regularly connecting with members on social media.

We’ve had fantastic feedback from our members who have been impressed with our virtual classes. Many members were excited to be back with us in person in July. But we definitely found it was worthwhile to keep live streaming and building out our digital offering to cater to all needs. Over a third of those who chose to freeze when we reopened opted to pay a nominal £5 monthly contribution to access our virtual classes.

We’ll be launching a full virtual membership option very soon at a £5.99 monthly rate. Initially, we’ll offer this to any member looking to cancel, as well as to our lapsed members from the past couple of years. It’s vital that we get the quality spot-on first though – we’re investing in upgraded recording equipment – as well as adding other perks, such as discounts across our facilities, for virtual members.

It’s really important to be flexible at this time, having virtual options available both stand alone and as part of our standard memberships allows us to cater to all needs and preferences. It also makes our business more resilient to changing operational requirements and closures.

This shows that once you’ve established your virtual workout programme and have built a substantial following amongst your members, you could decide to start charging for these services.

Think of your online offerings as a value-add to your existing face-to-face fitness services – this is a great way to cater to your members changing needs and still give them an option to engage with your gym or leisure centre if your premises are closed, and to make them feel like they’re getting more value for their money.

Pricing your online workouts can be tricky because you need to take several different factors into account, including:

  • How much your members already pay for their membership in the gym or leisure centre
  • Your reputation and experience
  • Your ongoing expenses and overheads
  • Your capacity – how many members you can handle in a class
  • Which virtual workouts you’re planning to offer

The pricing model you choose is entirely up to you, based on your business type, needs, and goals – including profit margins. Keep in mind that you’ll need to compete with pure play digital fitness services too.

Step 3: Back up your new virtual offering with the right software

At TSG, we’re here to help you take your business online and start offering virtual workouts. Our business management software solutions have a range of features that can help you build a sustainable virtual business alongside your on-premises services, including:

  • Customer management: Everything you need to manage your members all in one place. Easily keep track of your customers’ information including their bookings and payments with paperless, online, and secure software. You can enjoy the same amount of customer visibility for virtual members as you would for on-premises members, leading to higher retention rates and increased profit.
  • Online bookings: Giving your customers the freedom to view your workout schedule, book and pay for their next session – all from their smartphone. This is a great, convenient option for your members, particularly those virtual ones who don’t want to come to your premises or get in touch to book.
  • Customer communications: Engage and stay in close contact with your members by email or SMS. You are able to segment and target members with engaging content. Alternatively, our communications experts can do this for you, creating tailored customer journeys for your virtual offering.
  • Native app: Available on Apple iOS and Android, the app carries your branding and allows you to reach members with push notifications and personalised messages. As well as facilitating bookings and self-service membership management, you can stream live workouts to members wherever they are.

In conclusion

Offering virtual workouts and taking your business online can present substantial new opportunities for growth. Online workouts are great because they give both gyms and leisure centres the ability to keep operating, even if premises are closed – and to recruit new members who may not have tried your fitness services before. You can also use many strategies to automate your processes, which means you can work with hundreds of members at any given time.

Gyms and leisure centres have long since been a source of inspiration to their members and a vital part of the local community. No matter where and how you decide to operate, remember to support your community, build strong customer relationships, and reward their loyalty.

Our recent guide ‘Making virtual workouts a reality’ explores how to set up and monetise virtual workouts, from beginning to end. Find out how virtual offerings can help support your local community by reading the guide here.

Interested in finding out more about Legend can help you go virtual and boost your business? Contact us today.