Feature Article - June 2011
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State of the Industry 2011

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping

Marketing and increasing participation is a top concern for 39.1 percent of respondents now, and 33.9 percent said it will be a top concern over the next several years. The economy has had a major affect on participation, as many people have less money to spend on fitness, recreation and sports programs. "People are cutting back on discretionary spending and may or may not use our services," one respondent stated.

Other readers pointed to the need to build participation in programs to bring in additional funds.

Several respondents also pointed to the rise of social media and electronic marketing as presenting a challenge. "With all the emphasis on social media and the member of today so time-consumed, finding the right way to keep them engaged at the club becomes a big challenge," one reported. Another said, "With everything going electronic, we have to change the way we market to people. With such a large spectrum of participants, it is hard to reach everyone, Therefore we must market to each generation differently."

Safety and risk management was chosen as a top concern by 36.6 percent of respondents now, and another quarter (24.2 percent) listed it as an ongoing concern for the next three years. Once again, the issue is interconnected with others, including budgetary concerns and staffing worries. "Safety will become a major concern as we continue to work with less staff and maintenance of facilities is deferred because of a lack of man hours," one respondent said. Another commented, "Keeping the facility maintained properly with the same budgeting as previously and with less assistance by city/schools."

For 28.8 percent of respondents, creating new and innovative programming is a top concern now. More respondents consider this an ongoing concern—33.6 percent said it will be a concern for their facilities over the next three years. One respondent pointed out that programming is an essential link in the chain, leading to improved attendance and revenue, while also increasing the need for maintenance. This respondent called programming "… the basis for attendance, revenue, maintenance needs, etc. We strive to increase programs, but need to be aware of the drain on already-stretched resources."

Other issues showing increasing levels of worry over the next several years include legislative issues, a top current concern for 17.5 percent of respondents, and a concern over the next three years for 18.6 percent; environmental issues, a top concern now for 15 percent and an ongoing issue for 18.8 percent; and fitness and wellness for older adults, a top current concern for 12.5 percent and a concern over the next three years for 14.5 percent.