Leisure centres and facilities are hubs for local communities. As a leisure operator, you play a vital role in increasing how active the communities you serve are. Technology can help you reach more community members and cultivate strongly bonded communities.
A place to be active. A place that’s welcoming for everyone, no matter their background. A place to build lasting friendships and meaningful connections. Your leisure centres and facilities are hubs for the communities you serve.
The 21-22 Active Lives Survey found that there’s a positive connection between activity levels and social and community development.
When asked to rate if people in their area can be trusted on a scale of 5 to 1 (5= strongly agree; 1= strongly disagree), those who are active for 150+ minutes a week were more likely to agree (3.4 average answer) compared to those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week (3.2 average answer).
How can you help bring members closer together and encourage interaction? And how can you strengthen community bonds in the areas you serve? Technology has a role to play in helping you build lasting communities.
Technology can help you better understand your current reach within your community. Your leisure management software should give you an understanding of the demographics of current paid and casual membership database.
Compare the demographics of your database to the overall demographics of the areas you serve. Then identify any gaps to see the areas of your community you are yet to engage.
Look at attendance data for the classes and activities you offer to understand who is attending which activities. Look for demographic trends. And see if there have been changes over time in popularity with different demographical groups. Offer more of what’s popular and add new options to serve areas of your community you’re not yet catering to.
Beyond allowing you to identify new areas of your community that you can extend your reach to, technology makes it easier to learn what your members really want. And that in turn can help you direct your efforts to the most effective initiatives.
Use technology to routinely collect feedback from those who visit your facilities. Review this feedback and act to better serve your community.
To engage everyone in the communities you serve and bring more people together, you must create meaningful, memorable experiences. This takes time and attention. Something that many leisure operators lack. Technology can help you and your teams create this time.
Making use of self-service technology (and educating members who need some initial help with it) will give members of your front of house team more time to focus on those using your facilities.
New members can sign up at their convenience online. And members can use your digital member self-service portal and app to book classes, make payments, manage their memberships and more. All of this means fewer tasks for your teams to handle. So, they can give extra attention to making each visit to your facilities memorable.
Choose an all-in-one software partner who offers embedded payments with a skilled support team to help members resolve payment queries. And as a result, your team will have more time for members.
Leading leisure trusts, SLL & InspireAll, have experienced this first hand. The trusts moved Direct Debits to Legend and have:
- Provided members with more choice over their payment date
- Ensured member payment queries are resolved quickly and consistently
- Freed onsite leisure centre teams from a high volume of calls and in-person payment queries. So, they can now focus on sales and other revenue generating activities
- AND impressively achieved monthly collection rates that are consistently over 99%
Read the SLL & InspireAll case study to find out how technology can give you more time (and revenue) to focus on creating memorable, community-building leisure experiences.
Reach new audiences
Looking at the data you have within your platforms and freeing up time using technology in a smart way, can help you find ways to engage more of the communities you serve with meaningful experiences that inspire loyalty. Yet, to go further you need to find new ways to reach audiences who might not engage with your facilities directly.
Technology can help. Consumers today are accustomed to finding and booking services via third parties. For example, when booking a holiday consumers will use websites like Expedia and Booking.com to find flights, hotels, transfers, activities, and more. The demand to book fitness and sports activities in a similar way is growing.
Legend is working in collaboration with imin to make this possible. Using Legend’s OpenActive capabilities, imin makes it easy for consumers to find available classes, activities, and facilities on third party platforms. And book these seamlessly on those platforms. No need to switch sites or create new accounts. imin works with platforms such as Badminton England, This Girl Can, HealthPlace.io and other sports brands.
Leisure operators who use Legend can choose to open classes, activities, and facilities to these platforms. And that increases footfall and revenue, while making physical activity more accessible for all community members. So, technology can help you grow your community reach and meet people where they are at.
To build a strong community, you need to communicate with prospects, paid members, and casual members effectively. Technology can help you communicate with impact at scale.
The more connected your audience feels to your organisation, the stronger your community impact will be. Use the email and SMS marketing targeting tools and integrations that your software offers to hit the right notes every time.
Here are some tips:
- Target and tailor messages using real-time data – use all data available to reach specific groups with messaging that reflects their needs and interests
- Gather insights at all key touch points – the more you know, the more opportunities to improve a member’s experience. Regularly identify points in the member journey where extra attention is needed
- Revisit existing member journeys – audit all touch points from start to end. Look to build a consistent, engaging experience. Identify common pain points with high attrition risk (get expert advice on how to Measure The Success Of New Member Onboarding)
- Stay in touch with everyone – keeping in touch with all groups in your database is valuable (respecting data protection rules and marketing preferences). If members are taking a break, keep them updated and encourage them back as appropriate. Target former members with compelling win-back campaigns
Spark new connections
Technology can also be used to bring your members closer together, encouraging them to interact when they may not usually do so. Use technology to create gamified fitness experiences that promote community.
Challenges are a great way to unite disparate groups of members around a common goal. Use smart equipment and tracking technology, connected with your app and leisure management system, to create live leader boards.
Let members compete on an individual basis to build a sense of competition (perhaps you could even offer a prize). Or bring your members together to act as a community focused on a common goal like raising money for a local charity.
Social media can be an effective way to reach and create connections within the communities you serve.
When considering which networks to focus on, look at who you want to reach and the resource you have available to invest in your social media efforts:
- Facebook is well established and is popular with older professionals aged over 25
- Instagram has around 35 million users in the UK and is most popular with Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen Z (born 1997-2012)
- TikTok is a newer platform but already has over 3.7 million active users in the UK. Over a quarter of those are aged 18-24
There are two key elements that will influence how successful you are in using social media to cultivate community:
- Engage & interact – dedicating time to proactively engaging to build relationships with your followers and other relevant organisations will help you build a community rather than attracting a passive following
- Content – you’ll need to post regularly, have a plan that’s built around your overall organisational and marketing strategies, and create the right content for your audience and the social media channels you’re using
See how Legend can help you strengthen community
Technology, like the Legend leisure management system, has an important role to play in helping your leisure organisation reach more of the communities you serve and strengthen community bonds. All building lasting communities.