leadforensics Editor's letter: Real-time customer data will change industry
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Editor's letter: Real-time customer data will change industry

The best management and policy decisions are made in light of sound knowledge of customer preferences and behaviour. An ambitious new industry collaboration is enabling operators across the activity sector to raise their game through access to real-time customer data

By Liz Terry, Leisure Media | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 6
The DataHub enables us to understand customer behaviour / PHOTO: shutterstock
The DataHub enables us to understand customer behaviour / PHOTO: shutterstock
ukactive’s benchmarking service will be integrated with the DataHub, so performance benchmarking underpins the entire service

Afew years back, in the days when nationwide participation numbers were mainly established by market research, the CEO of a leading management contracting company told me that if official figures were accurate, he’d be out of business.

Happily he was able to report record attendances, but his experience – that some official numbers didn’t reflect his reality – was shared by other operators and policymakers and this meant that decisions made on the basis of these numbers were not optimal at best and ineffective at worst.

Today we’re in transition between that time – when market research data was the bedrock of decision-making – and a new era of real-time data, when we can analyse what’s actually going on to inform decision- and policy-making.

Eventually we’ll no longer need a representative market research sample, because our ‘sample’ will be all users.

This thinking is coming to our sector and in this issue (page 72) we talk to the team behind the DataHub, an initiative through which operators, trade bodies and tech companies are collaborating to create a platform for real-time activity data.

The DataHub currently records a million transactions a day, taken from 157 operators in 1,200 locations. The ambitious aim for 2018 is to get this to 750 million transactions a day and to extend eventually into all sectors of the industry.

The data is anonymised and standardised to ensure like for like comparisions and then used for analytics and benchmarking. “For the first time, operators are actively sharing data so that everyone can make better decisions,” DataHub’s Phil White told Health Club Management.

ukactive is also on board: “We’ll be integrating ukactive’s benchmarking service with the DataHub platform, so that business performance benchmarking underpins everything we do,” says ukactive’s Steve Mann in our report.

The DataHub is now also open to non facility-based activity providers, such as bootcamps, making it ever more representative of the nations’ ‘active journeys’. The eventual aim is a comprehensive, detailed view of the entire market.

Many industries such as food retailing and travel have used real-time data for years to drive business, yet up until now, our sector hasn’t had access to these powerful tools.

We’ve seen the launch and failure of three major benchmarking initiatives over the years. It’s time for all operators to back this one to take us to a new level of excellence across health, fitness and activity and enable operators to build services consumers really need.

Liz Terry, editor

lizterry@leisuremedia.com

@elizterry

http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/934400_927816.jpg
Real-time revolution: a new industry collaboration is enabling operators to raise their game through access to real-time customer data
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