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Elevate your member experience to win in a fast-changing fitness industry

The UK’s largest health and fitness trade show, Elevate, returned to the Excel Arena last week and GoCardless was there to take part in the action.

We were joined by hundreds of fitness businesses, from gyms and equipment suppliers to software platforms, including our fantastic partners ClubRight, Glofox, Virtuagym, OpenPlay, Sport Solutions and more.

Business leaders took to the stage in Elevate’s first conference, to share their thoughts on emerging trends and the future of fitness. Throughout the two-day event, one thing became clear: the fitness sector is changing and those who focus on member experience will emerge as the winners.

In an industry that is shunning long-term contracts in favour of more flexible membership options, fitness business operators must provide a better member experience to attract members and keep them for longer.

That means top facilities and passionate employees committed to helping members see results. But increasingly, it also means keeping up with fitness trends, integrating technology into your offer and providing simple, hassle-free payments. We’re excited by this as we think our Direct Debit solution can help gyms of all sizes to do just this!

With this in mind, here are our 3 key takeaways from Elevate 2018.

1. Stay on trend

New fitness trends, products and classes are constantly emerging. The growing influence of bloggers, YouTube channels and mobile apps mean members can explore new fitness options easily. At Elevate, we heard about a shift away from intense workout trends like HIIT, to recovery-focused workouts like stretch studios, massage, and wellness. Keeping up to date with these trends and considering how you might integrate them into your offer (or your marketing), will help you stay relevant.

2. Be flexible

The fitness industry is moving away from lengthy and rigid membership contracts. Members don’t want to to be locked into a contract - and they don’t need to be.

Many gyms now offer flexible membership packages with transparent pricing, including short term contracts, weekly and/or monthly passes, and the option to purchase credits for classes, allowing members to use the gym how and when it suits them.

At the same time, marketplace sites like ‘Pay as u gym’ make it easy for people to see where they can access fitness services and what facilities each gym has.

These changes have been welcomed by industry leaders like Rod Hill, Director of TRIB3 Europe, for the way it encourages an improvement in customer service because gym operators must “earn every repeat visit”.

3. Consider new ways to grow

Fitness franchises like The Fitness Space, a GoCardless Customer, are increasing in number, and franchising is increasingly popular as an expansion strategy, particularly to meet the demand for boutique fitness outside the major cities.

GoCardless customer and CEO of Hotpod Yoga Nicki Higgins, says: “We've found that whether you are in a buzzing large city or a smaller town, the desire for specialist, high-quality fitness is there”. Hotpod Yoga works with over 30 franchise partners across 7 countries.

Position yourself for success

Today’s discerning fitness-seekers won’t put up with an average service. They want new types of fitness classes, the best facilities, tech-enhanced exercise and flexible membership options. And they’re more likely to look at online reviews before signing up.

So gyms must put member experience at the heart of their business strategy. And member satisfaction starts at signup, says CEO of The Gym Group, John Trehane, talking to HealthClub Management:

“Member engagement is big for us and it starts with the induction process. It's encouraging to see our average membership tenure has gone from 8.9 months to 10.1 months over the last two years, so members are staying longer in their first period of membership.”

A simple sign up process and hassle-free payments (without the fear of being chased by debt collectors) are vital to converting members and keeping them coming back.

This is where GoCardless can help. We can help you create better payment experiences for your members through our best-in-class API, or through our integrations with leading membership management software platforms including Glofox, Club Right, Virtuagym, Teamup among others.

Together, we can transform your member management and improve the booking and payment experience for members - for example, giving you the option to let members choose their payment date, amount, and reducing your payment failures to 0.5%.

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