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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Technology: Embracing online and mobile payment systems

Online payment and mobile are changing the way businesses are operating, but is the fitness sector taking full advantage of the tech available? Tom Walker investigates

By Tom Walker, Leisure Media | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 7
Gantner says cashless payments can boost in-club spending
Gantner says cashless payments can boost in-club spending
Cashless payments are the future – they can reduce staff costs, increase turnover, enhance safety and enable an easier assessment of revenues - Mario Morger, Gantner

The health and fitness sector is being shaped by developments in online, with the emergence of signup and payment collection having a transformational effect.

As well as making membership tracking and collection easier, electronic systems have given consumers more control in managing payments.

COLLECTING FEES
One of the pioneers of web-based systems is Harlands Group, which was among the first to offer clubs the option to take their membership management online.

According to national sales manager, Robin Karn, online solutions have been a game changer: “Online signup is now the dominant way memberships are sold, either on-site or remotely,” he says. “We process more than 1.7m transactions a month and 99 per cent of these signups are made online – a fast, simple and secure process for members – and which also removes the administration of paper contracts for the clubs.”

Joanne Barton, payment specialist at Gladstone Software, says it’s not just membership collection that has benefited from the move to online. Thanks to new tech, the administration of single payment tickets and access is now developing towards a form of customer self-service. “Online payment solutions, self serve kiosks and mobile devices are now preferred to the more traditional method of making payments at a reception point,” Barton says.

“The main benefits for the clubs are cost savings and improved customer service. For users it’s all about convenience and faster service. Self serve kiosks allow users to check in quickly, avoiding queues.”

Sean Maguire, MD at Legend Club Management Systems, agrees – and says new technologies have improved efficiency. “Enabling merchant services online has moved the sign-up process from a purely face-to-face encounter toward a virtual experience,” Maguire says.

“This has allowed operators to adapt how and when they sell to potential customers, increasing sales hours and reducing the number of staff involved. The surge in take-up of smartphones and tablets has also shifted the sales process to prospects on the move, taking full advantage of the trend toward deal-driven impulse purchasing.

Maguire adds that for the consumer, the introduction of online payments means more transparency. “For the prospective member, the availability of online sign-up has forced operators to publish prices and offers providing them with unparalleled insight and choice,” he says.

According to Matt Clements, IT development manager at direct specialist DFC, some operators have come up with their own bespoke systems. “We’re seeing more operators launching apps,” he says.

“Many of our clients have chosen to embed our My Payments online portal into their own app to further reduce friction in the customer journey. This has taken strain off busy facilities that don’t have the time or knowledge to discuss queries, and created an easily accessible platform for them to track payments.”

CASHLESS PAYMENTS
A majority of membership payments are done online and the next step, which some have already taken, is to move all other purchases, including in-club ones, online – in the form of cashless payments.
Access technology using electronic chips is available and can be harnessed to act as a means of payment – with all in-club services and offers booked onto the chip.

In a connected club, members can check in, pay for their food and access the showers. Information terminals can be installed, where members can see in real-time which services have been used, and get a detailed cost overview. Payment is made onto the chip in advance, or when leaving the club.

According to Mario Morger, UK business development manager for Austrian payment specialist Gantner, cashless payments are the future – they can reduce staff costs, increase turnover, enhance safety and enable an easier assessment of revenues.

“Going cashless offers many benefits, such as increased revenue resulting from ease of spending, transparency on transactions and a reduction in theft,” Morger says.

He adds that automated cashless systems can also reduce staff costs and shorten queues, as well as allowing better marketing through accurate customer profiling.

“Allowing your regular club members to be cashless within your facility can boost spend for your ancillary services – such as food and beverage, vending machines and retail,” he says.

“In-club spending has been seen to increase by as much as 40 per cent when a cashless system is introduced, because spending becomes easier and more spontaneous.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
How well has the sector adopted this new tech?
“If you compare the UK’s leisure industry with other countries’, we’re right up there and use technology well,” says Harlands’ Karm. “But when compared with other industries, we’re lagging behind.

“The low-cost sector is making the best use of it, as they have automated systems. That isn’t always the case with public sector operators.”

When asked to rate how well the UK’s fitness sector is keeping on top of its payment systems, he pulls no punches. “I’d probably give it 4 out of 10,” he says.

DEALING WITH REJECTION

New system tackles missed payments
Rejected direct debit payments are a headache for operators and one of the biggest causes of lapsed memberships. To help clubs eradicate the issue and encourage members to get back on track, payment solutions provider DFC has come up with a service called My Payments.

The online portal makes it easier for customers to pay defaulted fees through a variety of platforms. Accessible 24/7, the system gives club members payment flexibility outside working hours and saves operators the task of manually chasing payments.

“Customers tend to bury their heads and ignore the problem – either because they’re too busy or embarrassed by the situation,” says DFC’s IT development manager Matt Clements. “My Payments takes care of all these issues, meaning members can get back into the gym and operators can free up time for attracting new joiners.”

MOVING TO SELF SERVICE

SUPPLIER: Gladstone
CLIENT: activeNewham

Joanne Barton
Joanne Barton
Joanne Barton,

Gladstone Software


Leisure trust activeNewham has seen casual income increase by 8 per cent since switching to Gladstone’s cashless, self-service payments system.

The trust, which operates four leisure centres and a fitness centre on behalf of Newham Council, took the bold step of replacing reception desks and receptionists at all of its sites with Gladstone’s self-service kiosks, and also stopped taking cash payments.

Now, all customers are required not only to pay with debit or credit cards but also to ‘self-serve’ their way into activeNewham’s centres – although a member of staff, a ‘concierge’, is on duty at all times.

Keiron Butcher, commercial director for activeNewham, says: “Customers can now use their membership card to top up their cashless account at the kiosk, as well as online or via our call centre. They can also use their membership card to pay for activities or services at the kiosk, instead of a credit or debit card; it’s similar to Transport for London’s Oyster Card system.

“Since introducing the kiosks, we’ve eliminated all queuing in our facilities and seen a nine per cent increase in usage, which leads us to believe we’re now counting the number of people using our sites more accurately.”

“Self serve kiosks and mobile devices are now preferred to the more traditional method of making payments at a reception point”

AN ALL-IN-ONE SYSTEM

SUPPLIER: Harlands
OPERATOR: Marriott

Robin Karn
Robin Karn
Robin Karn,

Harlands Group


Marriott operates 39 premium health clubs in the UK and recently went live with a Harlands system that provides online signup, full management of membership payments, full credit control and a link with the front of house system in the clubs.

By linking in with Marriott’s leisure management software, the system has enabled the operator to consolidate its processes and retain control of its memberships. James Wild, director of golf and leisure operations, says: “The Harland’s partnership supports our efforts to reduce direct debit rejections and first payment bounce backs, positively impacting our business performance and bottom line.

“Due to the reduction in administrative duties, our leisure teams can now focus 100 per cent on creating new opportunities for customers, generating additional prospects and providing an enhanced service to those in the club already. We’re also in the process of deploying the Harland’s Sales Generator prospecting system, in order to convert more leads into memberships and slicken up our processes.”

“We process more than 1.7m transactions a month in the health and fitness sector and 99 per cent of these signups are made online”

OPINION: Payment security

Sean Maguire
Sean Maguire
Sean Maguire,

Managing director,

Legend Club Management Systems


While awareness may spike following headline grabbing cyber attacks, ignorance of security obligations when it comes to tech continues to place the industry at risk.

Given the volume and extent of personal information we routinely collect, our industry is a target.

With no industry regulation and few guidelines, the implications of the next breach could extend beyond regulatory fines and brand damage, permanently undermining trust and causing business failure.

With the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to up the stakes, it’s time to take data, its use and protection, far more seriously. The world has changed and managing this risk is now a top priority requiring constant ongoing attention.

According to the UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017, just under half (46 per cent) of all UK businesses have had at least one cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months.

Furthermore, businesses that hold electronic personal data are targeted more (51 per cent versus 46 per cent), and that places operators firmly in the cross hairs.

In the absence of any other solution, the onus is on individual operators and industry suppliers to step up and proactively secure customer data. GDPR is a big change but we shouldn’t be scared of it. Instead we must warmly embrace it and use it as the catalyst to obtain ‘excellent’ grades when it comes to our data management.

“It’s time to take data, its use and protection, far more seriously. The world has changed and managing this risk is a top priority requiring constant attention” - Sean Maguire, Legend Club, Management Systems

activeNewham has seen casual income increase by 8 per cent since switching to cashless systems
activeNewham has seen casual income increase by 8 per cent since switching to cashless systems
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/149389_349958.jpg
Businesses in the fitness sector have a lot to gain by tapping into the full potential of online mobile and cashless payment systems. We talk to the experts
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    features

    Technology: Embracing online and mobile payment systems

    Online payment and mobile are changing the way businesses are operating, but is the fitness sector taking full advantage of the tech available? Tom Walker investigates

    By Tom Walker, Leisure Media | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 7
    Gantner says cashless payments can boost in-club spending
    Gantner says cashless payments can boost in-club spending
    Cashless payments are the future – they can reduce staff costs, increase turnover, enhance safety and enable an easier assessment of revenues - Mario Morger, Gantner

    The health and fitness sector is being shaped by developments in online, with the emergence of signup and payment collection having a transformational effect.

    As well as making membership tracking and collection easier, electronic systems have given consumers more control in managing payments.

    COLLECTING FEES
    One of the pioneers of web-based systems is Harlands Group, which was among the first to offer clubs the option to take their membership management online.

    According to national sales manager, Robin Karn, online solutions have been a game changer: “Online signup is now the dominant way memberships are sold, either on-site or remotely,” he says. “We process more than 1.7m transactions a month and 99 per cent of these signups are made online – a fast, simple and secure process for members – and which also removes the administration of paper contracts for the clubs.”

    Joanne Barton, payment specialist at Gladstone Software, says it’s not just membership collection that has benefited from the move to online. Thanks to new tech, the administration of single payment tickets and access is now developing towards a form of customer self-service. “Online payment solutions, self serve kiosks and mobile devices are now preferred to the more traditional method of making payments at a reception point,” Barton says.

    “The main benefits for the clubs are cost savings and improved customer service. For users it’s all about convenience and faster service. Self serve kiosks allow users to check in quickly, avoiding queues.”

    Sean Maguire, MD at Legend Club Management Systems, agrees – and says new technologies have improved efficiency. “Enabling merchant services online has moved the sign-up process from a purely face-to-face encounter toward a virtual experience,” Maguire says.

    “This has allowed operators to adapt how and when they sell to potential customers, increasing sales hours and reducing the number of staff involved. The surge in take-up of smartphones and tablets has also shifted the sales process to prospects on the move, taking full advantage of the trend toward deal-driven impulse purchasing.

    Maguire adds that for the consumer, the introduction of online payments means more transparency. “For the prospective member, the availability of online sign-up has forced operators to publish prices and offers providing them with unparalleled insight and choice,” he says.

    According to Matt Clements, IT development manager at direct specialist DFC, some operators have come up with their own bespoke systems. “We’re seeing more operators launching apps,” he says.

    “Many of our clients have chosen to embed our My Payments online portal into their own app to further reduce friction in the customer journey. This has taken strain off busy facilities that don’t have the time or knowledge to discuss queries, and created an easily accessible platform for them to track payments.”

    CASHLESS PAYMENTS
    A majority of membership payments are done online and the next step, which some have already taken, is to move all other purchases, including in-club ones, online – in the form of cashless payments.
    Access technology using electronic chips is available and can be harnessed to act as a means of payment – with all in-club services and offers booked onto the chip.

    In a connected club, members can check in, pay for their food and access the showers. Information terminals can be installed, where members can see in real-time which services have been used, and get a detailed cost overview. Payment is made onto the chip in advance, or when leaving the club.

    According to Mario Morger, UK business development manager for Austrian payment specialist Gantner, cashless payments are the future – they can reduce staff costs, increase turnover, enhance safety and enable an easier assessment of revenues.

    “Going cashless offers many benefits, such as increased revenue resulting from ease of spending, transparency on transactions and a reduction in theft,” Morger says.

    He adds that automated cashless systems can also reduce staff costs and shorten queues, as well as allowing better marketing through accurate customer profiling.

    “Allowing your regular club members to be cashless within your facility can boost spend for your ancillary services – such as food and beverage, vending machines and retail,” he says.

    “In-club spending has been seen to increase by as much as 40 per cent when a cashless system is introduced, because spending becomes easier and more spontaneous.

    ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
    How well has the sector adopted this new tech?
    “If you compare the UK’s leisure industry with other countries’, we’re right up there and use technology well,” says Harlands’ Karm. “But when compared with other industries, we’re lagging behind.

    “The low-cost sector is making the best use of it, as they have automated systems. That isn’t always the case with public sector operators.”

    When asked to rate how well the UK’s fitness sector is keeping on top of its payment systems, he pulls no punches. “I’d probably give it 4 out of 10,” he says.

    DEALING WITH REJECTION

    New system tackles missed payments
    Rejected direct debit payments are a headache for operators and one of the biggest causes of lapsed memberships. To help clubs eradicate the issue and encourage members to get back on track, payment solutions provider DFC has come up with a service called My Payments.

    The online portal makes it easier for customers to pay defaulted fees through a variety of platforms. Accessible 24/7, the system gives club members payment flexibility outside working hours and saves operators the task of manually chasing payments.

    “Customers tend to bury their heads and ignore the problem – either because they’re too busy or embarrassed by the situation,” says DFC’s IT development manager Matt Clements. “My Payments takes care of all these issues, meaning members can get back into the gym and operators can free up time for attracting new joiners.”

    MOVING TO SELF SERVICE

    SUPPLIER: Gladstone
    CLIENT: activeNewham

    Joanne Barton
    Joanne Barton
    Joanne Barton,

    Gladstone Software


    Leisure trust activeNewham has seen casual income increase by 8 per cent since switching to Gladstone’s cashless, self-service payments system.

    The trust, which operates four leisure centres and a fitness centre on behalf of Newham Council, took the bold step of replacing reception desks and receptionists at all of its sites with Gladstone’s self-service kiosks, and also stopped taking cash payments.

    Now, all customers are required not only to pay with debit or credit cards but also to ‘self-serve’ their way into activeNewham’s centres – although a member of staff, a ‘concierge’, is on duty at all times.

    Keiron Butcher, commercial director for activeNewham, says: “Customers can now use their membership card to top up their cashless account at the kiosk, as well as online or via our call centre. They can also use their membership card to pay for activities or services at the kiosk, instead of a credit or debit card; it’s similar to Transport for London’s Oyster Card system.

    “Since introducing the kiosks, we’ve eliminated all queuing in our facilities and seen a nine per cent increase in usage, which leads us to believe we’re now counting the number of people using our sites more accurately.”

    “Self serve kiosks and mobile devices are now preferred to the more traditional method of making payments at a reception point”

    AN ALL-IN-ONE SYSTEM

    SUPPLIER: Harlands
    OPERATOR: Marriott

    Robin Karn
    Robin Karn
    Robin Karn,

    Harlands Group


    Marriott operates 39 premium health clubs in the UK and recently went live with a Harlands system that provides online signup, full management of membership payments, full credit control and a link with the front of house system in the clubs.

    By linking in with Marriott’s leisure management software, the system has enabled the operator to consolidate its processes and retain control of its memberships. James Wild, director of golf and leisure operations, says: “The Harland’s partnership supports our efforts to reduce direct debit rejections and first payment bounce backs, positively impacting our business performance and bottom line.

    “Due to the reduction in administrative duties, our leisure teams can now focus 100 per cent on creating new opportunities for customers, generating additional prospects and providing an enhanced service to those in the club already. We’re also in the process of deploying the Harland’s Sales Generator prospecting system, in order to convert more leads into memberships and slicken up our processes.”

    “We process more than 1.7m transactions a month in the health and fitness sector and 99 per cent of these signups are made online”

    OPINION: Payment security

    Sean Maguire
    Sean Maguire
    Sean Maguire,

    Managing director,

    Legend Club Management Systems


    While awareness may spike following headline grabbing cyber attacks, ignorance of security obligations when it comes to tech continues to place the industry at risk.

    Given the volume and extent of personal information we routinely collect, our industry is a target.

    With no industry regulation and few guidelines, the implications of the next breach could extend beyond regulatory fines and brand damage, permanently undermining trust and causing business failure.

    With the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to up the stakes, it’s time to take data, its use and protection, far more seriously. The world has changed and managing this risk is now a top priority requiring constant ongoing attention.

    According to the UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017, just under half (46 per cent) of all UK businesses have had at least one cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months.

    Furthermore, businesses that hold electronic personal data are targeted more (51 per cent versus 46 per cent), and that places operators firmly in the cross hairs.

    In the absence of any other solution, the onus is on individual operators and industry suppliers to step up and proactively secure customer data. GDPR is a big change but we shouldn’t be scared of it. Instead we must warmly embrace it and use it as the catalyst to obtain ‘excellent’ grades when it comes to our data management.

    “It’s time to take data, its use and protection, far more seriously. The world has changed and managing this risk is a top priority requiring constant attention” - Sean Maguire, Legend Club, Management Systems

    activeNewham has seen casual income increase by 8 per cent since switching to cashless systems
    activeNewham has seen casual income increase by 8 per cent since switching to cashless systems
    http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/149389_349958.jpg
    Businesses in the fitness sector have a lot to gain by tapping into the full potential of online mobile and cashless payment systems. We talk to the experts
    Latest News
    ukactive has questioned the government's decision to make all employers start paying towards the wages ...
    Latest News
    A study on how exercise changes the body at a molecular level has suggested that ...
    Latest News
    A new industry support association, Fitness United, launches today (1 June) to bring suppliers and ...
    Latest News
    Corporate broking and advisory firm, Peel Hunt, has issued a 'buy' recommendation for shares in ...
    Latest News
    Health club chain 24 Hour Fitness has reopened some of its sites in Texas and ...
    Latest News
    The fitness industry in Europe is uniting today (30 May) to launch #beactivehour, a free ...
    Latest News
    PureGym has become the latest fitness operator to deploy a digital offering in a bid ...
    Latest News
    A new report has revealed the likely timescales and shape of the UK fitness market's ...
    Latest News
    There has been a "surge in appreciation" of exercise during lockdown, with people turning to ...
    Latest News
    Gyms and health clubs in Dubai, UAE, have begun reopening their doors today (27 May) ...
    Job search
    POST YOUR JOB
    Opinion
    promotion
    Hedgehog Concept Ltd has developed software that allows its clients to track usage and customer volume on a minute to minute basis.
    Opinion: Is your software fit for COVID-19?
    Featured supplier news
    Featured supplier: What’s your Covid-19 exit strategy? How will you use this time to relaunch your business to thrive, not just survive
    There is no escaping the fact that we are operating in extraordinary times. Our physical health clubs, gyms and studios are closed and we’re trying to keep our membership engaged, fit and healthy via online and digital training.
    Featured supplier news
    Featured supplier: Gympass partners with Wexer to launch on-demand workouts for operators
    Gympass has launched Gympass Plus - including an on-demand platform powered by Wexer - for its 2,200+ operator partners. The platform comprises more than 500 workouts from 18 content providers including Zumba and Gaiam.
    Video Gallery
    Technogym mywellness app
    Technogym
    Improve your training experience. All your data in a single app. Read more
    More videos:
      Company profiles
      Company profile: Keiser UK Ltd
      Keiser began its history of visionary sports science leadership over 40 years ago, rejecting the ...
      Company profiles
      Company profile: Octane Fitness
      A global innovator of high-performance fitness equipment, Octane Fitness, a Nautilus, Inc. brand, continually redefines ...
      Catalogue Gallery
      Click on a catalogue to view it online
      Directory
      Skincare
      Sothys: Skincare
      Locking solutions
      Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
      Independent service & maintenance
      Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
      Lockers/interior design
      Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
      Wearable technology solutions
      MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
      Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
      Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
      Flooring
      Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
      Spa software
      SpaBooker: Spa software
      Whole body cryotherapy
      Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
      Design consultants
      Zynk Design Consultants: Design consultants
      Property & Tenders
      Greywell, Hampshire
      Barnsgrove Health and Wellness Club
      Property & Tenders
      Derby City Council
      Property & Tenders
      Diary dates
      13 Jun 2020
      Worldwide, Various,
      Diary dates
      06-07 Jul 2020
      Eastwood Hall, Nottingham, United Kingdom
      Diary dates
      28-31 Aug 2020
      Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
      Diary dates
      21-24 Sep 2020
      Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
      Diary dates
      01-02 Oct 2020
      Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury, United Kingdom
      Diary dates
      11-12 Oct 2020
      ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
      Diary dates
      17-23 Oct 2020
      Pinggu, Beijing, China
      Diary dates
      27-30 Oct 2020
      Messe Stuttgart, Germany
      Diary dates
      30-31 Oct 2020
      NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
      Diary dates
      27-28 Nov 2020
      Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
      Diary dates
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