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Leisure Centre Member Satisfaction Vs. Loyalty – What’s The Difference?

You’re likely already measuring leisure centre member satisfaction, but are you measuring loyalty too? Satisfied members are not necessarily loyal ones. Supercharge your success by focusing on loyalty.

Satisfaction and loyalty are intrinsically different. If you only focus on satisfaction, you risk losing paid and pay-as-you-go members. So, to keep members coming back for longer, and spending more, you need to measure loyalty.

Leisure centre member satisfaction vs. loyalty

Its tempting to assume that satisfaction and loyalty are the same. Yet, they are quite different by definition:

Satisfaction is a measurement of a current (or recent) attitude towards your organisation. Whereas loyalty is a set of attitudes and behaviours that a member shows which demonstrate commitment to your leisure centre or club.

Satisfaction looks back. Loyalty looks forward. A pay-as-you-go member might have been satisfied with their last gym session. But when a new gym opens closer to home, they may not be loyal enough to stick with you despite the longer journey.

The importance of focusing on loyalty

Measuring and understanding how loyal your leisure members are will tell you something more than just focusing on satisfaction. Loyalty tells you if a member is willing to risk their reputation and recommend you to friends and family. It lets you know if they’ll stick with your leisure centre, even if you don’t always get everything perfect.

If you measure loyalty, you’ll be able to see if a member:

  • Will upgrade their membership with you or try other services you offer
  • Will keep their paid membership when their contract is up
  • Will keep coming back and regularly using your facilities
  • Would be willing to recommend you to family and friends

Hearing that members are satisfied is motivating for you and your team. Yet, knowing how loyal members are will help you create a successful leisure organisation for the long-term. It will make it easier to fix any issues and retain members for longer.

How to measure leisure centre member satisfaction

It’s easy to measure satisfaction, so it’s a great starting point. You’ll understand whether a specific or recent experience has met member expectations.

Understanding why members are dissatisfied can also help you stop members sharing negative reviews online. And give you the feedback you need to make positive changes to your organisation.

What’s more seeing that members are satisfied will help you keep your team motivated.

Satisfaction is measured through customer satisfaction scores (CSAT). A high CSAT score shows a specific experience was smooth and as expected. A low CSAT score indicates that something wasn’t quite right with a particular experience.

CSAT surveys ask leisure members to rate how satisfied they were with a specific experience on a point scale (e.g., 1-10). If you want to gather extra feedback, you can include an optional free text box too.

Ways to measure leisure centre member loyalty

Loyal members:

  • Recommend you to others
  • Leave positive reviews online
  • Renew their membership or keep coming back for pay-as-you-go visits
  • Buy other services and products from your leisure centre – spending more money

Loyalty is more subjective than satisfaction. That makes it tougher to measure. But you can use a mix of qualitative (opinions/feelings) and quantitative (numerical) data to understand how loyal your leisure members are.

Measuring loyalty will help you understand how much your members will spend with you in the long-term. It will help you provide a consistent leisure experience to all – making the right changes to your member journey, facilities, and offering.

These are the ways you can measure loyalty:

Retention rate

Most likely you’ll already be measuring retention rates. If you see retention rates drop, you could have a loyalty problem.

Track retention rates on an annual, quarterly, and monthly basis to get maximum insight into how loyal your members are.

This is how you’d work out a monthly retention rate:

Member retention rate = ((number of members at the end of the month – number of members acquired during the month) /number of members at the start of the month) x 100

So, if you started the month with 2,000 members. Acquired 50 new members during the month. And had 1,500 members at the end of the month. Your retention rate would look like this:

72.5% retention rate = ((1,500 – 50) / 2,000) x 100

On average 52.2% of UK fitness members remain a member for a complete 12-months. This is a helpful stat to compare your leisure organisation too. However, it’s more powerful to know what a good retention rate looks like for your organisation.

Reviewing retention rates on an annual, quarterly, and monthly basis will help you spot positive and negative trends fast. Seasonal drops may happen but increasing the number of loyal members will help minimise the number of members who cancel after peak periods like January.

Want to improve retention rates? Check out 6 Simple Ways To Improve Your Retention Rates.


It’s worth the effort it takes to measure engagement. You’ll learn a lot about how loyal members are to your leisure organisation.

In our Checklist: Re-Engagement Strategy For High-Risk Members blog post, we explained how to identify members who may cancel their membership soon. Look at the insights available in your leisure management software to identify metrics that will help you measure engagement:

  • Frequency of visits – paid (and casual) members who visit often (at least weekly) are most engaged. Review your member data and calculate how often members typically visit. Identify groups of members who you could target to encourage more frequent visits.
  • Email opens, clicks, and unsubscribes – those most likely to open and click through from an email are typically engaged members. Disengaged members will often ignore or unsubscribe. Look at your open rates to start with – wellness & fitness businesses see average open rates of 19.2%.

Away from your software look at:

  • Social media engagement – the best way to measure engagement will differ by platform. Overall, you’re looking to keep numbers of likes, comments, and shares consistent. A sustained drop in engagement could show loyalty is also dropping.
  • Review sites – Monitor Facebook, Google, and any other review sites regularly. Getting negative reviews is a sign that engagement is dropping. Acknowledge and accept these reviews, then take clear action to rectify the issues raised.

Start by working out what engagement looks like for your leisure organisation. You’ll then be able to use it to understand the loyalty of your membership base.

Net promoter score (NPS)

This is a popular metric that measures member experience. NPS helps you predict revenue growth. Members will be asked to rate how likely they are to recommend you to friends, family, and colleagues on a scale of 0-10.

Members who score you 9 or 10 are promoters. Those who give you a 7 or 8 are passives. And those who score you 6 or below are detractors. Pay most attention to promoters and detractors.

You can work out your total NPS by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

NPS = % promoters – % detractors

The higher your score, the more loyal members you have. Look to increase your NPS over time.

Loyalty index

The customer loyalty index (CLI) is an alternative to NPS. It uses a similar points scale.

CLI will give you more detailed feedback than NPS can. It’s a very direct approach. The drawback is that it can lead members into providing the feedback they think you want to hear rather than being honest.

Members will rate their responses on a scale of 1 to 6 (1= very likely, 6= not likely) to these three questions.

  1. How likely are you to recommend [your leisure centre’s name] to a friend?
  2. How likely are you to renew your membership with [your leisure centre’s name]? (Or for PAYG members how likely are you to continue using [service they typically use] at [your leisure centre’s name]?)
  3. How likely are you to try out our other products/services?

Calculate you CLI number by working out the average of the three responses. Here you’re looking for a lower number to indicate you have loyal members. Average scores for each question will help you identify where your strengths and weaknesses are.

Lifetime value

Member or customer lifetime value (CLTV) indicates the total revenue an average paid or PAYG member will bring to your business. You may need separate calculations for different types of members, as well as an average across your leisure organisation.

The formula for calculating CLTV looks like this:

CLTV = Average member revenue per year x average member lifespan

So, for paid members, if you know most members pay £500 a year for their membership and have been with you for 5 years, your CLTV would look like this:

£2,500 CLTV = £500 x 5

Loyal members will bring your organisation more revenue. As you grow loyalty, your CLTV should grow too.

It’s also helpful to regularly monitor the length of time a member stays with you. As leisure centre member loyalty grows, so should the length of time members stick with you.

Practical ways to improve loyalty

Now you know the importance of understanding how loyal your members are. And how to calculate loyalty. Let’s look at what you can do to improve loyalty.

These are just some ideas to give you inspiration. Every leisure organisation is different, and what works for you will depend on your offering and membership base.

Exceed member expectations

Go beyond meeting leisure centre member expectations and exceed them. Doing this should start with focusing on your people. Invest in your team with regular customer service training. Make sure you are creating a working environment that keeps every member of your team motivated and engaged. Loyal employees equates to loyal members.

Pay particular attention to your fitness team. Every 2 interactions your fitness team has with a member each month results in 1 extra visit the next month. And members who visit more often are more likely to feel welcome and loyal.

Your team should aim to interact with every member each visit. Even learning a member’s name can contribute to exceeding expectations.

Put members in control

Queues at reception, busy phone lines, or needing to flag down a member of staff to help with simple things like booking a class, upgrading to a paid membership package, or sorting out a payments issue can be frustrating for members.

Give members more control. Choose all-in-one leisure management software that has a comprehensive digital member services portal, plus a native mobile app.

This will make it easy for members to book classes, activities, courses and more online via the app, mobile, tablet or desktop. They’ll be able to manage their account details and make online payments at their convenience. Plus, the parent/carer portal makes it easy to manage swimming lessons and other courses.

Less time spent queuing or on the phone, and more control = happy, loyal members.

Improve your communications

Research has shown that email is a more effective way of communicating with members than phone calls. Choose leisure management software, like Legend, that will make it easy to send targeted, personalised email and SMS messages to all types of members.

Get member communications right from the moment a member joins your leisure centre. A detailed leisure member onboarding process – that covers both paid and pay-as-you-go members – will help create long-term loyalty.

Create triggers around key milestones members reach with you, sending personalised email and SMS messages. Cheer members on, celebrate success, and motivate members to get back on track.

To help, we’ve created the Ultimate Playbook for Onboarding Leisure Centre Members Effectively. It gives you a full guide showing what message to send and when – with separate journeys for paid and casual members. Plus, there are 25+ ready to use or adapt email and SMS templates. Get your free copy.

Become a community hub

If you can create a place that has a real community feel, your members will want to remain loyal and keep coming back.

The Retention People (TRP) and IHRSA found that 70% of members who made new friends through their membership identified themselves in NPS surveys as promoters rather than detractors. Keep looking for opportunities for members to make friends.

For ideas on becoming a community hub, check out Beyond Fitness: 7 Ways To Diversify Your Community Offer.

Offer members more flexible options

When it comes to membership payments, your members are looking for greater flexibility. That starts with payment date. Members will often prefer to pay close to their salary payment date. Giving a greater choice of billing date helps keep members happy and coming back – with fewer missed payments due to insufficient funds.

Choose a leisure management software partner who can manage membership payments on your behalf. Letting you give members more payment date flexibility, the option to catch up on missed payments discreetly online when they want to, and access to a dedicated, trained contact centre for support.

You’ll create a stand out payment experience and be free to focus on other ways to grow loyalty.

Those were just some of the ways you can grow loyalty. Regularly measure and track the metrics and indicators we outlined to see how the actions you are taking are impacting loyalty.

In summary…

If you only focus on leisure centre member satisfaction, you are missing the opportunity to improve organisational performance by improving loyalty. Loyal leisure members will remain with you for longer than satisfied members.

You can measure loyalty through retention rate trends, engagement indicators, NPS, CLI, and CLTV. Over time you will see loyalty grow if you focus on improving it. As loyalty grows so will your leisure organisation.

Request a demo to find out how Legend can help you measure and increase leisure member loyalty.