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Online booking for fitness classes is the wave of the future, according to Reserve with Google, which began offering online booking to the industry late last year.

Reserve with Google Makes Its Case for Online Health Club Class Bookings

Offering online class bookings will become as big of a differentiator in the health club business as it is now in the restaurant business, according to Dan Cath, partnerships lead at Reserve with Google. That means health clubs who don't get on board may be left in the Dark Ages.

Health club operators who do not allow for online booking of fitness classes are missing a revenue and recruitment opportunity, according to Dan Cath, partnerships lead of Reserve with Google. Reserve with Google began offering online class bookings in the health club industry in December 2016, and this summer, it began offering the same service in the beauty industry, which includes salons, spas and nail services.

Consumers who want to book a class at a club or studio can register through Reserve with Google on desktop, mobile web, Google Search or Google Maps, but only at health clubs that have signed up to be a part of the program through their software company, which must be a partner with Reserve with Google.

More than half of real world gyms and salons don't offer online appointment booking, Cath said.

"If I am a restaurant, it behooves me to have pictures of my food on my site. If one place has pictures of their food on the site, but another does not, I will go with the one that does," Cath said. "It will be a similar thing for the fitness industry where if I say I want to book a hot house yoga class, and I see three studios and two of them have a book button and the other one doesn't, I'm going to drop that third one out of my consideration."

Cath will share more about the importance of online booking to the future of the fitness industry when he offers the presentation "How Online Booking Is Changing the Health Club World" on Oct. 5 at the Club Industry Show at the Hilton Chicago. Cath also is the closing keynoter at the Motionsoft Technology Summit Sept. 11-13 in Washington, DC. Club Industry is the media partner for the Technology Summit, and Motionsoft is one of the sponsors of the Technology track at the Club Industry Show.

Cath said that the fitness and beauty markets are ripe for cross shopping opportunities, which is one reason Reserve with Google launched its services in both markets around the same time. The company is hoping to allow for cross shopping.

Reserve with Google is just one business from outside the fitness market that has entered the fitness space. The attractiveness of the health club industry to outside businesses stems from gyms offering a service that is a high repeat activity, at least in comparison with something such as tourism, Cath said. He, for instance, works out six times per week.

"Anything where it happens with high frequency and people are doing it a lot, there's a lot of opportunities there," Cath said. "High frequency behavior has a lot of value and opportunity for add-on services."

Reserve with Google sees enough opportunity in the market that it has invested time and resources creating the product and signing up partners in software companies that serve the fitness market. Its goal is to make that case so clear to health club operators that they, too, see the opportunity in online bookings for themselves.

TAGS: Technology
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