The Motionsoft Technology Summit Focused on Technology Challenges in the Health Club Space

Motionsoft held its sixth annual Motionsoft Technology Summit Sept. 16-18 in Washington, DC, attracting its largest audience yet to discuss digital and technology challenges faced by the fitness industry. (Photo by Pamela Kufahl.)

Motionsoft, Rockville, Maryland, wrapped its Motionsoft Technology Summit last week with its largest attendance in its six-year history—176 CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, marketing directors and fitness vendors.

Clubs represented at the event included 24 Hour Fitness, The Alaska Clubs, The Atlantic Club, Crunch, East Bank Club, EOS, Equinox, The Houstonian Club, Midtown Athletic Clubs, MVP Sports Clubs, Newtown Athletic Clubs, New York Health & Racquet Club, Planet Fitness, VIDA Fitness, YouFit and more.

The event, which was held Sept. 16-18 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, was sponsored by Myzone, Promotion Vault, Fitness BI, Styku, Aldous & Associates, InTouch Technology, Listen 360, Texmunication, Silicus, Epsilon, eGym, Zeamo, SneezeIt and Pear.

Club Industry was the media partner of the event.

“As I hoped when I launched our inaugural event in New York City six years ago, the Motionsoft Technology Summit is an event where fitness industry executives can share learning and ideas, participate in hands-on education sessions and network with like-minded technology and marketing professionals,” said Al Noshirvani, chairman and co-founder of Motionsoft. “In the words of one attendee, ‘It is the place where I take ideas home to implement.’”

The theme of this year’s event was Back to Basics: Practical Technology and Marketing Solutions to Help Get, Know and Keep Your Members.

The most important takeaway at this year’s event for Mike Lodes, director of information systems for MVP Sports Clubs, Orlando, Florida, was that “easy is the new currency,” he said quoting one of the panelists.

“The Motionsoft Technology Summit consistently has a broad discussion of many areas within fitness industry technology, but this year’s discussion, including HVLP operators and traditional operators, about using collected data, artificial intelligence, mobile tech and behavioral analytics encourages us and gives us great ideas about how to keep a customer-first, mobile-first and low-friction approach as we move forward with 2020 plans, capital spending and development,” Lodes said.

Lodes has been to the event multiple times, coming back to network with others who head information technology in the fitness space.

“It’s always validating to see that my peers are encountering the same challenges that my team is,” Lodes said. “When I can get insight on how someone else has tackled that same challenge or can share how we overcame an issue to others, this helps us all move forward.”

The topics covered in the panel sessions were relevant to the current challenges both vendors and clubs are facing on a daily basis, according to Kristin McConnell, marketing director at The Atlantic Club, Manasquan, New Jersey.

“It’s refreshing to know that the digital struggle is real—whether you are a small one-location gym, a luxury health club, a large chain club or a media agency that is working in this space daily,” she said. “We have to be resourceful. Algorithms and trends and digital policies are changing quicker than ever, and you need to have people in your corner that can keep up, whether its on-site or whether its to find the best company to outsource to."

Digital struggles were discussed in multiple panels, including the Technology Panel that kicked off the event and featured advisory board members Jon Roberts, chief information officer, InShape Health Clubs; Kristian Merritt, director of digital transformation, David Lloyd Leisure; Josh Rider, chief revenue officer, solidcore; and Allison Rand, director marketing & communications, VIDA Fitness.

The event included conversations about the importance of influencers in your business, use of artificial intelligence to generate sales, when to pivot your digital campaigns, how data science teams are much needed in your business, and bringing the concept of the digital wallet as a payment option to your club or business in the future, McConnell said.

Jan Vasys, CFO at The Atlantic Club, said she was glad that marketing was brought more into focus as a beneficiary of the data archiving conversation. With the advent of artificial intelligence, traditional roles are changing brought on by the availability of data and the use of AI for outreach, she added.

“This summit allows us to be ahead of the curve for trends in the industry and in business in general,” Vasys said.

Herschel Elder, regional director of membership for American Family Fitness, also saw future benefits of attendance at the event.

"It was exciting to hear how innovation and technology are solving the problems most health clubs and, more importantly, our members face today," he said. "I walked away optimistic about the future of the industry as technology is playing such a critical role in the member experience, which our members are demanding more and more."   

Members' expectations of technology solutions and how that plays in attracting members were reasons Allison Flatley, owner of Allison Flatley Consulting, attended the event. 

“The theme of the Motionsoft Technology Summit was all about collaboration and problem solving,” she said. “Every company and technology solution said, ‘What problem can we help solve?’ Having attended several years ago, I remember learning about technology companies and the unique service or features they bring to the industry vs. solving problems and bringing more customers and clients to the health clubs.”

At the end of the first day of the event, Paul Bedford of Retention Guru offered a keynote on data-driven behavior change. On the second day, Tom Ogilvie, founder of Peer Insight, led an interactive workshop and gave the closing keynote presentation on entrepreneurial courage.

To hear some of the insights from the Motionsoft Technology Summit panelists on the topics of data, mobility, sales and marketing, listen to the four podcasts that Club Industry produced prior to the event by going here.  

For more technology insights, register to attend the Technology and Trends track at the Club Industry Show Oct. 9-11 at the Hilton Chicago.