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Les Mills
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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Editor’s letter: Restoring the personal touch

New research shows the extent to which members are disengaged and disenchanted with their clubs. Is it time to take a step back from all the hot-off-the-press innovations to focus on the basics: namely, speaking to customers?

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 4
SoulCycle: Infectious enthusiasm among staff and riders
SoulCycle: Infectious enthusiasm among staff and riders

H alf of members get frustrated with their gym or health club, while 45 per cent are apathetic about it, reporting that nothing particularly great happens while they’re there. This is the rather depressing topline finding of new UK research by The Retention People and Dr Melvyn Hillsdon.

More specifically, this new NPS (Net Promoter Score) study shows that 49 per cent of all members in the UK regularly experience a hassle at the club that they find annoying – and this is directly linked to them becoming a ‘detractor’ (someone who not only has no loyalty to the club, but who may also put negative thoughts in other members’ minds and put prospects off joining).

Meanwhile, 45 per cent of members report no, or at best rare, ‘uplifts’ at the club – positive experiences that might go at least some way towards balancing out any hassles, but without which a member is likely to be neutral at best (what NPS classifies as a ‘passive’). Worse still, 13 per cent of members report three or more regular hassles as well as a lack of uplifts. That’s a shockingly high percentage of customers who already have a foot out of the door – but with fitness a service that, rightly or wrongly, many still feel they can do without, if we make them want to tear their hair out every time they visit and give them nothing to smile about, why on earth would they stay?

It needn’t be this way though. On page 82 of this month’s magazine, Leisure-net MD Mike Hill writes about his experiences in New Zealand, where the average NPS score is 70 per cent (compared to a UK average of just 34 per cent, and a US average of around 43 per cent). Hill gives his views on why this is – and it isn’t rocket science. While much of the talk today revolves around technology’s transformational impact on a business, it’s a good old-fashioned focus on people which lies at the heart of New Zealand’s soaring NPS results: community-building, strong personal relationships and great communication.

It was with all of these findings in mind that, while attending IHRSA in Los Angeles last month, I took the opportunity to visit a selection of the city’s boutiques, and specifically the much-vaunted SoulCycle. NPS data doesn’t exist for this operator, but the sheer volume of rave reviews that flood both social and traditional media bears witness to an army of highly vocal fans (the so-called NPS ‘promoters’) all wanting to share their love for the brand.

So what did I think? Well... I’m a promoter too, after only one ride. And that’s quite simply because – in addition to the great vibe created by the music, décor and a full class of 54 SoulCyclers at 7.00am – the staff delivered a first-class experience from the moment I walked in. Yes, you can book online, but you don’t have to. When I’d popped in unannounced the day before, I’d had a warm welcome from an enthusiast-turned-staff member who couldn’t have made me more excited about what I was about to experience... which turned out to be a party-like class led by an instructor whose infectious enjoyment rubbed off on you. And the personal touch continued after the class when my tweet, which demanded no response, nevertheless got one within the hour.

So SoulCycle embraces tech... but subtly, using it to support and add convenience to what remains a very human experience. Crucially, it doesn’t replace people. Rather, it’s used to build on and enhance the sense of community that’s already been created in the studio.

And that’s really important in this dizzying era of hi-tech change. Technology – from VR to AI to live streaming, plus a multitude of innovations not yet conceived – will transform our sector. But people still relate to other people. It’s time to stop creating apps just because we think we should have one, and work out where tech can be implemented to genuinely enhance our offering.

Kate Cracknell
[email protected]
@healthclubkate

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/92627_890155.jpg
To win loyalty from our members, we must bring back a good old-fashioned focus on people, says Kate Cracknell
Kate Cracknell, Editor, Health club Management,Kate Cracknell, The Retention People, Dr Melvyn Hillsdon, Mike Hill, Leisure-net, SoulCycle, IHRSA 2017,
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features

Editor’s letter: Restoring the personal touch

New research shows the extent to which members are disengaged and disenchanted with their clubs. Is it time to take a step back from all the hot-off-the-press innovations to focus on the basics: namely, speaking to customers?

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 4
SoulCycle: Infectious enthusiasm among staff and riders
SoulCycle: Infectious enthusiasm among staff and riders

H alf of members get frustrated with their gym or health club, while 45 per cent are apathetic about it, reporting that nothing particularly great happens while they’re there. This is the rather depressing topline finding of new UK research by The Retention People and Dr Melvyn Hillsdon.

More specifically, this new NPS (Net Promoter Score) study shows that 49 per cent of all members in the UK regularly experience a hassle at the club that they find annoying – and this is directly linked to them becoming a ‘detractor’ (someone who not only has no loyalty to the club, but who may also put negative thoughts in other members’ minds and put prospects off joining).

Meanwhile, 45 per cent of members report no, or at best rare, ‘uplifts’ at the club – positive experiences that might go at least some way towards balancing out any hassles, but without which a member is likely to be neutral at best (what NPS classifies as a ‘passive’). Worse still, 13 per cent of members report three or more regular hassles as well as a lack of uplifts. That’s a shockingly high percentage of customers who already have a foot out of the door – but with fitness a service that, rightly or wrongly, many still feel they can do without, if we make them want to tear their hair out every time they visit and give them nothing to smile about, why on earth would they stay?

It needn’t be this way though. On page 82 of this month’s magazine, Leisure-net MD Mike Hill writes about his experiences in New Zealand, where the average NPS score is 70 per cent (compared to a UK average of just 34 per cent, and a US average of around 43 per cent). Hill gives his views on why this is – and it isn’t rocket science. While much of the talk today revolves around technology’s transformational impact on a business, it’s a good old-fashioned focus on people which lies at the heart of New Zealand’s soaring NPS results: community-building, strong personal relationships and great communication.

It was with all of these findings in mind that, while attending IHRSA in Los Angeles last month, I took the opportunity to visit a selection of the city’s boutiques, and specifically the much-vaunted SoulCycle. NPS data doesn’t exist for this operator, but the sheer volume of rave reviews that flood both social and traditional media bears witness to an army of highly vocal fans (the so-called NPS ‘promoters’) all wanting to share their love for the brand.

So what did I think? Well... I’m a promoter too, after only one ride. And that’s quite simply because – in addition to the great vibe created by the music, décor and a full class of 54 SoulCyclers at 7.00am – the staff delivered a first-class experience from the moment I walked in. Yes, you can book online, but you don’t have to. When I’d popped in unannounced the day before, I’d had a warm welcome from an enthusiast-turned-staff member who couldn’t have made me more excited about what I was about to experience... which turned out to be a party-like class led by an instructor whose infectious enjoyment rubbed off on you. And the personal touch continued after the class when my tweet, which demanded no response, nevertheless got one within the hour.

So SoulCycle embraces tech... but subtly, using it to support and add convenience to what remains a very human experience. Crucially, it doesn’t replace people. Rather, it’s used to build on and enhance the sense of community that’s already been created in the studio.

And that’s really important in this dizzying era of hi-tech change. Technology – from VR to AI to live streaming, plus a multitude of innovations not yet conceived – will transform our sector. But people still relate to other people. It’s time to stop creating apps just because we think we should have one, and work out where tech can be implemented to genuinely enhance our offering.

Kate Cracknell
[email protected]
@healthclubkate

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/92627_890155.jpg
To win loyalty from our members, we must bring back a good old-fashioned focus on people, says Kate Cracknell
Kate Cracknell, Editor, Health club Management,Kate Cracknell, The Retention People, Dr Melvyn Hillsdon, Mike Hill, Leisure-net, SoulCycle, IHRSA 2017,
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A new pioneering approach looks to help cancer patients prepare for and respond to treatment ...
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Peloton is recalling all of its Tread and Tread+ machines in the US, after striking ...
Latest News
Health club operator Bannatyne is repositioning itself as a wellness provider, as it looks to ...
Latest News
Health clubs and leisure centres in Northern Ireland reopened their doors on Friday 30 April, ...
Latest News
It's time to refocus on the changing needs of older adults, according to a new ...
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In breaking news, HCM understands that David Lloyd Leisure's Glenn Earlam will move from his ...
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Sport England has reported a drop of 710,000 in the number of people classed as ...
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promotion
The UK’s first dedicated leisure development framework has completed its first four-year term with £144m committed investment in public leisure projects.
Opinion: UK’s first leisure framework celebrates £144m investment in public leisure
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Cryotherapy specialists, L&R Kältetechnik, launch new artofcryo.com division
L&R Kältetechnik has launched a new division, named artofcryo.com, after 30 years’ experience with -110 °C electrical solutions.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Bounce back faster with a new risk-free joiner channel
The industry is eagerly awaiting the reopening of health clubs and leisure centres in another year affected by COVID-19, where the only thing that’s been certain is uncertainty.
Company profiles
Company profile: Physical Company
Physical Company’s mission statement is ‘First for Fitness Solutions’ – a statement that reflects the ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Merrithew™ - Leaders in Mindful Movement™
Merrithew™ enriches the lives of others with responsible exercise modalities and innovative, multidisciplinary fitness offerings ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Salt therapy products
Saltability: Salt therapy products
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Exercise equipment
Matrix Fitness: Exercise equipment
Fitness equipment
Octane Fitness: Fitness equipment
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
07-09 Jun 2021
Virtual summit,
Diary dates
12 Jun 2021
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
13-14 Jun 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-04 Jul 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
18-19 Sep 2021
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
28-29 Sep 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2021
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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