(Editors' Note: This sponsored article by ABC Financial is part of Club Industry's report, "Fitness Trends: Spotlight on 2020.")
Whenever a new decade arrives, it seems people pay extra attention to what’s trending in the new year. You’ve likely read more fitness and health club trend reports in the past few weeks than ever before. It can be difficult to separate out real insights from the noise. Our team works with thousands of health club operators every day. Here are three real-world trends we’ve heard consistently.
Refining Sales and Marketing
The health club business is getting more competitive (maybe you’ve heard this one before). Between low-cost providers, boutiques and new and popular at-home solutions, today’s fitness customer has more choices than ever. Evaluating your marketing strategy is no longer a nice-to-have; club businesses need a thoughtful approach to overall campaigns and measuring their effectiveness.
Increases in digital advertising costs during the past few years have reduced the simplicity but not the effectiveness of paid social, search and display. When building effective campaigns, having stellar creative and a clear value proposition are, of course, a must but are only so useful without a keen understanding of what’s actually driving new memberships. Look for the trend of health club operators justifying marketing spend and strategies through data insights, including calculations such as conversion rates, cost per lead and ROI. By understanding where their dollars are working hardest, operators will become much more effective in helping drive dues, add-on service and retention revenue.
Taking a Disciplined Approach to Club Technology
Consumers expect more seamless digital experiences in everything they do, and health club operators have already adopted a variety of solutions that support their members’ expectations while enabling them to operate their businesses more effectively.
The use of technology continues to be both a challenge and opportunity for operators, many of whom operate multiple software solutions that may or may not integrate effectively. In the decade ahead, fitness businesses will seek to simplify and integrate technologies to both provide deeper data insights and offer their members more experiences. Those who take the time now to develop a thoughtful technology strategy will be poised to leapfrog their competition.
Considering the End-to-End Member Experience
As competition rises, building a distinct brand and fitness service offering that consumers love will be fundamental to long-term success. Creating true differentiation requires a wide variety of tangible and intangible factors—from your visual branding to how services are delivered to having great employees who make members feel special. A major trend in the next decade will be considering new or underappreciated factors that contribute to the member experience.
Fitness business operators are focusing on speed and convenience. Members don’t want to be delayed, and if checking in via self-service is faster, they’ll choose that option even in a luxury environment. Another prime opportunity is considering the full member journey to create a seamless experience. Members often start engaging on one device and then continue via a different channel. They expect consistency in ease of use, service and accessibility. Marketers may define online and offline engagements, but potential members only see the journey.
As we begin 2020 and the next decade of the health club industry, even more will change. To prepare for the changes ahead, club operators must design great member experiences, thoughtfully integrate their technologies and market more effectively, which will help build a solid foundation for whatever the next decade may bring.
As vice president of sales for ABC Financial, Bob Surface works closely with his team to analyze the needs of clubs and to determine the best solutions for their businesses. Surface has more than 25 years of experience in the fitness industry, including owning and operating a successful health club, and can be reached at [email protected], 937-751-2201 or via abcfinancial.com.