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Futureproof Your Leisure Business

With many gyms and leisure centres in England able to reopen from 25 July 2020, Legend caught up with counter parts from elsewhere in the world to identify key trends. And provide insights into how you can best position your organisation for future success.

As a leader in global end-to-end business management solutions for the health & fitness, boutique & studio, and early education markets, TSG sees more data than just about anyone else.

As a TSG solution, Legend can provide you with better insights to help you run your business. Many of TSG’s health and fitness clients across the globe have started to reopen – including those in New Zealand, Australia, and closer to home in France.

Key visitor trends following French gym reopenings

Many gyms in France were able to reopen from 2 June (in a small number of area reopening was not permitted until later in June). Upon reopening, it was closer to business as usual than expected:

  • Almost all TSG’s French clients reopened by late June
  • While visits were down year-on-year by the end of June these had returned closer to 2019 levels

We did find that some demographics appear more eager and ready to return than others:

  • Overall, men are returning faster than women
  • Younger gymgoers are returning faster than those aged 30+, particularly to low cost or budget facilities
  • Men under 30 are most likely to return, with visits surpassing 2019 levels in later weeks

Confidence is easily knocked by local outbreaks and closures:

  • Return to usage levels comparable to 2019 slowed when local outbreaks and localised closures started to become commonplace

Building customer confidence shouldn’t stop at reopening

Ensure every visit is a positive experience – customers should feel safe every time they visit you. From capacity management to monitoring adherence to cleaning schedules and quality checks, your leisure business management software should make it easy to keep your facilities running smoothly. This frees up time to allow your people to act as role models to customers – look to reward team members who personally demonstrate the right behaviours.

Word of mouth is your most powerful marketing tool in encouraging customers to keep enjoying your facilities. Find ways to encourage customers to share positive experiences with others. Ask customers to check in and share their workout experiences on social media, request online reviews, reward friend referrals, and even simply encourage customers to tell others what it is like to return.

Don’t stop talking to your customers. Consider options such as outbound calling campaigns to engage members who are yet to visit to understand reasons behind this and address these where needed. Consider surveying members after their initial visit, or even following each visit, so you can resolve any negative feedback quickly.

What got you here today may not work for tomorrow

Forced to exercise away from your facilities, customers have become accustomed to working out at home or outdoors. Incorporating digital/virtual options into your standard membership packages, and even as a standalone option, will allow you to reach customers wherever they are. There are many pureplay digital fitness services available, so it’s vital to carefully consider what will best engage your customers.

Don’t forget that your team members can be your strongest assets in making your digital offering successful. Customers will be familiar and enjoy classes or training sessions with your team members. Invest in training and technology to help these individuals successfully adapt their skills for a digital setting.

Customers of all ages will have a variety of reasons for staying away, reviewing and adjusting your scheduling to better serve more customers may encourage visits. Perhaps consider specific timeslots for older members and those in more vulnerable groups to visit – mirroring the examples of supermarkets during the lockdown period.

Localised lockdowns, and even the possibility of a second wave, mean you may need to close your doors to customers once again at short notice. Robust membership options that allow you to continue to serve members remotely, coupled with your choice of leisure business management software should make it easy to shutdown and reopen smoothly with minimal hassle.

Carefully consider your approach to pricing

COVID-19 has and will continue to have a financial impact on people of all ages, especially those aged 17-24. Adapting your operating model to introduce budget friendly membership options may help you to attract and retain customers with limited budgets. Once you have these customers it’s much easier to look for opportunities to cross-sell (e.g. access to additional facilities) and make upgrades when the time is right.

Finally, understanding why customers cancel and freeze memberships will allow you to identify those experiencing financial hardship. Armed with this knowledge, consider taking a retention focused approach, giving your team the ability to offer a reduced rate on a temporary or ongoing basis to allow memberships to be retained.