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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

IHRSA update: Staying Competitive

By Catherine Larner | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 10
Clubs must work smart to stay relevant according to Laing
Clubs must work smart to stay relevant according to Laing
We need to ensure that when people join us specifically for health and fitness, they’re getting the very best

The Branston Golf and Country Club is an independent spacious facility that has the good fortune both to be situated in an oasis of English countryside and to be a leader in its market. Despite these advantages, its managing director Ben Laing knows that it’s foolish to take anything for granted. That’s why Laing has turned to the resources IHRSA has to offer to inform the changes and investments the company intends to make over the next 18 months.

“We’re positioned at the premium end in terms of products and quality of service for a country club facility,” he explains. “However, over the past 12 years, we’ve seen a rise in the number of local independent facilities and national chains. And, over the past 12 months, there’s been an explosion in the number of competitors in the budget club segment.”

It’s clear to Laing that some of Branston’s current offerings are being challenged, and that his club needs to respond to remain relevant and successful. But this is nothing new.

STAYING RELEVANT
Some 25 years ago, owner Roger Kerry transformed what was then a tired and shabby local authority-owned golf course into what Branston is today – one of the leading golf clubs in the Midlands, with a picturesque 18-hole course overlooking the River Trent.

From the outset, however, Kerry realised that the remarkable 110-acre site needed to offer much more than tees and beautiful greens in order to remain competitive. To that end, he created a 30,000-sq ft clubhouse, which includes a well-stocked, 3,000-sq ft gym, several studios, a pool, spa, restaurant and conference facilities.

Effectively, he turned a male-dominated golf facility into the comfortable, lively and social family club it is today.

Currently, the club has 3,500 members (2,500 of them fitness-only), with an equal number of men and women, who pay up to £740 (US$1,000) a year for their membership privileges. “Now, we need to ensure that when people join us specifically for health and fitness, they’re getting the very best,” points out Laing.

As a result, he plans to expand the gym, providing a larger space for group exercise, adding a second pool and upgrading the changing facilities. But, before “the spade goes in the ground,” he’s tasked his team with sourcing reports, analyses and opinions from throughout the greater IHRSA universe.

Having worked for Marriott Hotels for 11 years before he joined Branston four years ago, Laing understands the pros and cons of operating a standalone facility.

“There are politics and bureaucracy in a corporate chain that can be frustrating,” he acknowledges.

“Here, we can make decisions for our business today, and implement them tomorrow. But we have to work to find industry best practices, sourcing information from as many organisations as we can.”

He also recognises that, as an independent operator, there’s always the risk of becoming somewhat insular. “We’re not part of a chain or group with the ability to observe what’s going on elsewhere so that we can benchmark against other clubs,” he says.

“But IHRSA has given us the opportunity to tap into rich resources, identifying best practices and new trends in the wider market.”

Branston has been a member of IHRSA for more than 20 years, and its team has regularly attended its annual convention and trade show in the US, as well as its annual European Congress, which, this year, will be taking place in London on October 23–26.

INTERNATIONAL INSPIRATION
In recent years, however, the club's management team has sought support with respect to its specific needs via IHRSA data, reports and webinars, and visits to other member clubs.

“Not all of the latest trends emanate from the UK,” Laing concedes. “The US is certainly a big leader in the country club market.” And there’s much to be learned from its service culture, he says. “Whenever I come back from the States, I’m always aware of the high standard I’ve observed there.”

To gain firsthand experience with other clubs, Laing has called on IHRSA to arrange a number of club tours in the US and Europe, including one trip to Germany several years ago.

“We gave the IHRSA staff a briefing on what we were looking to achieve, and they set up visits and introduced us to the operators,” Laing recalls. “At the end of each day, we shared our observations with the local people, who gave their views and understanding of that particular European market.”

During these visits, Laing discovered how different clubs were embracing technology, and how they had developed procedures to maintain high operating standards. “We observed how those in the premium market always made sure that they delivered on their promise of quality.”

IHRSA’s distance-learning options are also proving to be a huge benefit for this UK club. Recently, for example, Laing downloaded a webinar on marketing, and shared it with his operations and sales team. “It’s proven very beneficial,” he attests. “The webinars are useful because the people leading these sessions are actual operators. They’re tapping their own practical experience. It’s not theoretical.”

Being able to learn from your peers – people who often face the same challenges that you do – is one of the “priceless” benefits of IHRSA membership, reflects Laing, who clearly appreciates how willing other IHRSA operators are to share the lessons they’ve learned.

What has he gained from IHRSA resources that will help Branston continue to be successful? Well, among other things, increased confidence in challenging times. “If we’re providing a great experience, great service and great technology, then I think we’ll continue to have a winning product – one that continues to set us apart from the competition.”

About IHRSA

IHRSA is the global trade association which represents 10,000 health and fitness facilities and suppliers.

Locate an IHRSA club at www.healthclubs.com

Learn how IHRSA can help your business at www.ihrsa.org

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Branston Golf and Country Club is spread across 110 acres of land
Branston Golf and Country Club is spread across 110 acres of land
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/333170_311063.jpg
We take a look at how Branston Golf and Country Club is keeping the competition at bay with support from IHRSA
Catherine Larner, Journalist,IHRSA, Branston Golf and Country Club,
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features

IHRSA update: Staying Competitive

By Catherine Larner | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 10
Clubs must work smart to stay relevant according to Laing
Clubs must work smart to stay relevant according to Laing
We need to ensure that when people join us specifically for health and fitness, they’re getting the very best

The Branston Golf and Country Club is an independent spacious facility that has the good fortune both to be situated in an oasis of English countryside and to be a leader in its market. Despite these advantages, its managing director Ben Laing knows that it’s foolish to take anything for granted. That’s why Laing has turned to the resources IHRSA has to offer to inform the changes and investments the company intends to make over the next 18 months.

“We’re positioned at the premium end in terms of products and quality of service for a country club facility,” he explains. “However, over the past 12 years, we’ve seen a rise in the number of local independent facilities and national chains. And, over the past 12 months, there’s been an explosion in the number of competitors in the budget club segment.”

It’s clear to Laing that some of Branston’s current offerings are being challenged, and that his club needs to respond to remain relevant and successful. But this is nothing new.

STAYING RELEVANT
Some 25 years ago, owner Roger Kerry transformed what was then a tired and shabby local authority-owned golf course into what Branston is today – one of the leading golf clubs in the Midlands, with a picturesque 18-hole course overlooking the River Trent.

From the outset, however, Kerry realised that the remarkable 110-acre site needed to offer much more than tees and beautiful greens in order to remain competitive. To that end, he created a 30,000-sq ft clubhouse, which includes a well-stocked, 3,000-sq ft gym, several studios, a pool, spa, restaurant and conference facilities.

Effectively, he turned a male-dominated golf facility into the comfortable, lively and social family club it is today.

Currently, the club has 3,500 members (2,500 of them fitness-only), with an equal number of men and women, who pay up to £740 (US$1,000) a year for their membership privileges. “Now, we need to ensure that when people join us specifically for health and fitness, they’re getting the very best,” points out Laing.

As a result, he plans to expand the gym, providing a larger space for group exercise, adding a second pool and upgrading the changing facilities. But, before “the spade goes in the ground,” he’s tasked his team with sourcing reports, analyses and opinions from throughout the greater IHRSA universe.

Having worked for Marriott Hotels for 11 years before he joined Branston four years ago, Laing understands the pros and cons of operating a standalone facility.

“There are politics and bureaucracy in a corporate chain that can be frustrating,” he acknowledges.

“Here, we can make decisions for our business today, and implement them tomorrow. But we have to work to find industry best practices, sourcing information from as many organisations as we can.”

He also recognises that, as an independent operator, there’s always the risk of becoming somewhat insular. “We’re not part of a chain or group with the ability to observe what’s going on elsewhere so that we can benchmark against other clubs,” he says.

“But IHRSA has given us the opportunity to tap into rich resources, identifying best practices and new trends in the wider market.”

Branston has been a member of IHRSA for more than 20 years, and its team has regularly attended its annual convention and trade show in the US, as well as its annual European Congress, which, this year, will be taking place in London on October 23–26.

INTERNATIONAL INSPIRATION
In recent years, however, the club's management team has sought support with respect to its specific needs via IHRSA data, reports and webinars, and visits to other member clubs.

“Not all of the latest trends emanate from the UK,” Laing concedes. “The US is certainly a big leader in the country club market.” And there’s much to be learned from its service culture, he says. “Whenever I come back from the States, I’m always aware of the high standard I’ve observed there.”

To gain firsthand experience with other clubs, Laing has called on IHRSA to arrange a number of club tours in the US and Europe, including one trip to Germany several years ago.

“We gave the IHRSA staff a briefing on what we were looking to achieve, and they set up visits and introduced us to the operators,” Laing recalls. “At the end of each day, we shared our observations with the local people, who gave their views and understanding of that particular European market.”

During these visits, Laing discovered how different clubs were embracing technology, and how they had developed procedures to maintain high operating standards. “We observed how those in the premium market always made sure that they delivered on their promise of quality.”

IHRSA’s distance-learning options are also proving to be a huge benefit for this UK club. Recently, for example, Laing downloaded a webinar on marketing, and shared it with his operations and sales team. “It’s proven very beneficial,” he attests. “The webinars are useful because the people leading these sessions are actual operators. They’re tapping their own practical experience. It’s not theoretical.”

Being able to learn from your peers – people who often face the same challenges that you do – is one of the “priceless” benefits of IHRSA membership, reflects Laing, who clearly appreciates how willing other IHRSA operators are to share the lessons they’ve learned.

What has he gained from IHRSA resources that will help Branston continue to be successful? Well, among other things, increased confidence in challenging times. “If we’re providing a great experience, great service and great technology, then I think we’ll continue to have a winning product – one that continues to set us apart from the competition.”

About IHRSA

IHRSA is the global trade association which represents 10,000 health and fitness facilities and suppliers.

Locate an IHRSA club at www.healthclubs.com

Learn how IHRSA can help your business at www.ihrsa.org

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Branston Golf and Country Club is spread across 110 acres of land
Branston Golf and Country Club is spread across 110 acres of land
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/333170_311063.jpg
We take a look at how Branston Golf and Country Club is keeping the competition at bay with support from IHRSA
Catherine Larner, Journalist,IHRSA, Branston Golf and Country Club,
Latest News
Mid Ulster District Council (MUDC) in Northern Ireland has won a landmark VAT case, which ...
Latest News
The government has pledged to invest £100m in supporting public leisure centres this winter, as ...
Latest News
Gyms in Liverpool,UK, have been given the go-ahead to reopen, following a dramatic week of ...
Latest News
Be Military Fit (BMF) has completed a restructuring project, designed to transform the outdoor fitness ...
Latest News
Rod Hill, former president of TRIB3 and director general of Anytime Fitness Iberia, has signed ...
Latest News
Persistent and rising levels of lifestyle disease across the world have exacerbated the effects of ...
Latest News
Customer experience software provider, AskNicely, has announced it will host a new virtual event called ...
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Opinion
promotion
Our world has changed since March and together, we are learning and adapting to how this sector can continue to thrive in this COVID conscious world.
Opinion: Why fitness clubs and facilities need to evolve in a COVID-conscious world
Opinion
promotion
In a post-Covid world, member experience is more important than ever before. Your customers’ expectations have been heightened as the coronavirus continues to dominate our everyday lives.
Opinion: Why member experience is more important now than ever before
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Frame launches new, streamlined digital offering, powered by Fisikal
When facing lockdown restrictions, Frame successfully adapted its in-club experience to an online offering for members.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Gympass sees success after pivoting to digital
As the COVID-19 lockdown forced the temporary closure of businesses across the country, the outlook for companies supplying services to corporate partners looked precarious.
Video Gallery
A new Zone is here
MyZone Group Ltd
A new zone is here for your club, for your members and for you. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Proinsight Research Ltd
We take time at the outset to understand your unique customer journey. Then we work ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Merrithew™ - Leaders in Mindful Movement™
Merrithew™ enriches the lives of others with responsible exercise modalities and innovative, multidisciplinary fitness offerings ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Digital gym floor
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Lockers/interior design
Safe Space Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Direct debit solutions
Harlands Group: Direct debit solutions
Fitness equipment
TRX Training: Fitness equipment
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Gym flooring
REGUPOL/Berleburger Schaumstoffwerk (BSW): Gym flooring
Design consultants
Zynk Design Consultants: Design consultants
Property & Tenders
11 - 25 Union St, London SE1 1SD
Bankside Open Spaces Trust
Property & Tenders
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
03-06 Nov 2020
Online,
Diary dates
12 Nov 2020
Virtual, United States
Diary dates
17 Nov 2020
Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-03 Dec 2020
Virtual,
Diary dates
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Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
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Diary dates
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IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
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NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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