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Is your fitness facility taking advantage of smart technology and other apps to grow your business and keep your members engaged Photo by Thinkstock
<p>Is your fitness facility taking advantage of smart technology and other apps to grow your business and keep your members engaged? <em>Photo by Thinkstock.</em></p>

Survey Shows Club Operators Slowly Stepping Up Smart Technology Use

Are health club operators embracing and using interactive smart technologies beyond social media&nbsp;within their facilities? A survey shows that the fitness business may have some catching up to do compared with other industries.

Seems like we are all getting hammered with tech, tech, tech these days. You can't breathe without hearing from some club tech expert touting the need to embrace smart technologies.  But what do club operators themselves say?

A recent Fitness Business Council survey of 434 club respondents (89 percent decision-makers) asked club operators questions about technology use in fitness facilities. Of the respondents, 82 percent agreed with the statement "Fitness facilities must use apps and other smart technologies to grow their businesses." However, only 51 percent actually use apps, and only 30 percent embrace wearable technologies within their business platforms.

It seems as though club operators continue to think that texting (73 percent), social media (91 percent), email (94 percent) and websites (96 percent) are state-of-the-art technologies.  Overwhelmingly, technology specialists within the fitness realm disagree, stating that these vehicles are at best informational but scarcely interactive.

When we look a little deeper inside website usage, respondents attest to the fact that only 31 percent of clubs allow staff to use personal websites to help promote the business, but 66 percent of club operators allow staff to use their own smart devices in-house to access certain business functions.

Ironically, only 40 percent of reporting clubs have a written bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. According to Forbes: "Synching of company data to a device is a good reason to have a BYOD policy. Anyone with a good customer relationship or contact management system will likely want to bring their contacts and calendar down to their device to look at offline. Securing this data is a headache, and although most of that is normally done at the application level, it's right to be concerned about company data that's out and about with an employee."

Although 94 percent of responding independent club operators allow members to use smart technologies while inside facility walls, less than one-third have portals for members to buy memberships, training, classes or other programs online. Allowance of member-interactivity with scheduling venues is a bit more robust, with roughly four in 10 clubs allowing members to schedule themselves in classes, training and other programs.

I've often commented that I think fitness business operators are by-and-large technophobes.  Perhaps the survey's results point just a tad against that statement. But we are still playing catch-up compared to other retail businesses.

What's your opinion? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 


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