Digitalisation is key to the future success of the fitness sector
June saw the release of the 2023 State of The UK Fitness Industry Report, with top line findings shared, for free via the in-person and virtual Evolve event and the Spotlight Report. As always, David Minton and the team at Leisure Database has brought valuable insight to the forefront that will help everyone, suppliers and operators to better craft their spend and focus moving forwards.
For me, having attended Evolve remotely, listened to David’s interview on the Escape Your Limits Podcast and read the Spotlight Report, we can start to identify the direction of travel we need to take in order to grow the sector. Below are some of my take outs from all the recent industry insights.
Data is king
As a digital business solutions provider, we have been working with our clients for years helping them create digitally driven ecosystems that effectively collect raw data and turn it into usable insights that can drive efficiencies and steer strategies that better meet ever evolving consumer needs and preferences. In the Escape you Limits Podcast, David talks about value of collective data.
We are already starting to understand the value of collective data through the Sport England Moving Communities initiative delivered by 4Global and supported by and a wider consortium of organisations. This month it has shared evidence of almost £1 billion in social value delivered by public sector leisure centres in the last 12 months. These are figures government won’t be able to ignore for long.
Internally, we are also working with several big brand clients who are beginning to reap the benefits of investing in digitalising their processes. For example, here in the UK, we have been partnering with Fitness First to digitalise the way the brand manages personal training payments and bookings. Through creating an enterprise level digital solution, Fitness First can use data collected to better understand member behaviours and how they are interacting with personal trainers. This is driving more effective business decisions and strategies. Based on insights collected form data, in its first two weeks of launching its dedicated personal training app more than 1,600 members who had never utilised personal training services before, activated a free taster session.
Ukactive is already supporting the sector in its digital journey through its Digital Futures work. The more digitally savvy the sector becomes, the more we can use the data to better understand how best we can serve consumers. Through the provision of better consumer experiences that drive engagement from more people for longer and the creation of operational efficiencies we can positively impact the bottom line and offset some of the less controllable rising costs.
In his interview on the Escape Your Limits Podcast, David Minton also talks about the growing expectation from members to receive a more personalised experience. Developing capabilities for organisations to seamlessly deliver bespoke content to members, based on previous behaviours and preferences continues to be a major focus for us. Our solution bases content selection on questionnaires completed by members relating to their likes and preferences whilst also learning from their repeated behaviours what activities and content they access, how often and when. From this information, we can target them with only the content relevant to them, pushing it out directly to them via an app that they can access 24/7. This is the future. We share David’s view that personalisation is going to become a baseline requirement. Digitalisation and the development of solutions like ours will be absolutely key to the sectors success in delivering this.
Providing a 360-degree solution
In the Escape your Limits Podcast, David also highlights a need for the sector to provide round the clock support. COVID highlighted how vulnerable our in-person services can be and helped to accelerate operators’ realisation of the value in maintaining a connection with members beyond the walls of their physical facilities. During enforced lockdowns most operators started to develop an omni channel approach. David’s insight, along with almost all other influencers, analytics and our own experience suggest this requirement is here to stay. Smart mobile devices that deliver information direct to consumers 24 hours a day have created an expectation and desire for constant access to information and services. It has also empowered people to take more control of their personal wellbeing.
Our digital ecosystem enables operators to maintain a close personal connection to clients wherever they are, via a web or app-based solution. We can broadcast on-demand or live streamed content, connect members to personal trainer schedules, facilitate two-way live chat or feed out personalised daily work outs and advise to keep people on track with their personal wellbeing plans. Consumers want convenience and an element of control. We need to make sure we tick both these boxes.
There can be little doubt that digitalisation will play a huge role in the future of our sector. The ukactive Digital Futures Report 2023 showed little advancement in terms of collective digital maturity but in order to grow, improve efficiencies and continue to deliver an experience in line with consumer needs, we need to keep pushing forwards.
If you would like to talk with Rob about how fisikal could help build a new or enhance an existing digital ecosystem, email: email@example.com
Digitalisation will continue to be instrumental in the future success of the sector. Thoughts by Rob Lander, CEO Fisikal