Feature Article - June 2015
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2015 State of the Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


Facility Usage & Membership

The percentage of survey respondents who report that they charge a fee for membership or usage of their facilities tends to fluctuate from year to year, generally staying within the 55-to-60-percent range. In 2015, the percentage of respondents who charge such a fee is up slightly from 2014. Some 58.4 percent of respondents in 2015 reported that they do charge such a fee, up from 55.7 percent last year. (See Figure 14.)

As usual, respondents from health clubs and YMCAs were the most likely to report that they charge a fee for membership or usage of their facilities. All of the health club respondents (100 percent) and 93.4 percent of YMCA respondents indicated that they charge such a fee. They were followed by camp respondents (63.2 percent of whom charge a fee), community center respondents (62.6 percent), parks respondents (57.3 percent) and college respondents (56.5 percent). School respondents were the least likely to charge a fee for membership or usage of their facilities. Only 18.5 percent of school respondents reported doing so.

A majority of respondents reported that they plan to hold their fees steady over the next few years, although the percentage who plan to increase their fees does rise from 2014 through 2016. More than two-thirds (67.6 percent) of respondents said they kept their fees the same from 2013 to 2014. From 2014 to 2015, 62.8 percent projected no change in membership fees, and from 2015 to 2016, 60 percent have no plans to increase fees. (See Figure 15.)

However, while 31 percent of respondents increased their fees from 2013 to 2014, more plan to do so over the next two years. From 2014 to 2015, 36.2 percent of respondents said they expect to increase fees. And, from 2015 to 2016, 39.7 percent predicted that they will be increasing their fees.

Respondents from YMCAs were the most likely to report that they had increased their fees from 2013 to 2014. Nearly half (47.2 percent) of YMCA respondents said they had increased fees in that time period. They were followed by camp respondents, 42.7 percent of whom had increased fees, and community centers, 34.6 percent of whom had increased fees.

Looking forward, camps, YMCAs and health clubs are the most likely to report that they expect to increase fees. From 2014 to 2015, 51.8 percent of camp respondents said they expected their fees to increase. They were followed by YMCAs (51.2 percent) and health clubs (31.1 percent). From 2015 to 2016, 45.5 percent of camp respondents said they expected to increase fees. They were followed by YMCAs (38.6 percent) and health clubs (36.5 percent).

In 2014, 54.9 percent of survey respondents said they expected to see utilization of their facility increase from 2013 to 2014. This year, 55.3 percent of respondents said such an increase had taken place. At the same time, 8.6 percent of this year's respondents reported a decrease in the number of people using their facilities. (See Figure 16.)

Looking ahead, more respondents expect to see continuing increases to usage of their facilities, while the percentage who are expecting to see usage decrease continues to fall over time. From 2014 to 2015, 59.8 percent of respondents said they expect usage of their facilities to increase, and 4.1 percent said they expect a decrease. From 2015 to 2016, 59.9 percent of respondents said they expect usage of their facilities to increase, and 1.9 percent said they expect a decrease.

Respondents in urban communities are the most likely to report that the number of people using their facilities increased from 2013 to 2014. And, looking ahead, urban respondents are also the most likely to report that they expect usage of their facilities to increase in 2015 and 2016. From 2013 to 2014, 57.4 percent of urban respondents said the number of people using their facilities had increased, compared with 55.8 percent of suburban respondents and 53.3 percent of rural respondents.

Looking forward, 61.7 percent of urban respondents expect to see an increase in usage in 2015, and 64.2 percent expect an increase in 2016. This compares with 60.9 percent of suburban respondents who expect an increase in 2015 and 61.4 percent in 2016. Rural respondents are less likely to expect more people to be using their facilities over the next two years, with 57 percent projecting an increase from 2014 to 2015, and 54.8 percent projecting an increase from 2015 to 2016.

Respondents from community centers, parks and camp facilities were the most likely to report that usage of their facilities had increased from 2013 to 2014. Some 63.3 percent of community center respondents, 60.6 percent of park respondents and 59.8 percent of camp respondents reported that they had seen an increase in usage in that time period. Health club respondents and YMCA respondents were the most likely to report that usage of their facilities had decreased from 2013 to 2014, with 15.1 percent of health clubs and 11.1 percent of YMCAs reporting they had seen such a decrease.

Looking forward, respondents from community centers are the most likely to expect further increases in 2015 and 2016, with 68.9 percent of community center respondents projecting an increase in usage from 2014 to 2015, and 72.6 percent projecting an increase from 2015 to 2016. They were followed by YMCAs, 64.6 percent of whom expect to see an increase in usage in 2015 and 68.9 percent of whom expect an increase in 2016.