​​​​inPERSPECTIVE / TECHNOLOGY: Leveraging Tech to Improve Member Retention

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Did you know that more than one in five Americans belonged to a health club or fitness studio in 2021? The data from the 2022 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report shows this number grew by 3.6% in the past two years. It’s evident that people’s desire to be part of a fitness community is unwavering.

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While this trend is promising, there is a flipside—most fitness community centers lose 50% of new memberships within six months, according to the same study conducted in 2020. Back to good news: There is something that can be done, and it starts with the onboarding process. Of the members surveyed by IHRSA, 87% of those who had a positive onboarding experience sustained active memberships after six months. Technology is the key to scaling these positive experiences.

Here we take a deeper look at how technology can be utilized to improve member retention.

Get to the Good Stuff

In health and wellness, as in life, motivation tends to ebb and flow. Motivation is strongest as New Year’s resolutions are made, at the beginning of a month when people set new goals or at membership signup, then fades over time. That’s why it is vital that recreation centers capitalize on their members’ initial, heightened motivation to set the tone for their entire membership by getting members learning, moving and involved, faster.

Recreation and community centers can provide an interesting and unique onboarding process to help members realize the value of memberships right from the start with the help of digital wellness tools. Technology enables members to fill out forms and intake questionnaires digitally, at their convenience, then connect with the programs and services they’d benefit from the most. By quickly getting members up to speed on programs they are interested in, recreation centers can improve retention—one benefit of getting right to the good stuff, fast.

Carve Out a Personal Path

It’s no secret that people want to feel seen and heard. And across the board, from their online streaming services to takeout orders and interactive exercise equipment, people have come to expect personalized options and interactions almost everywhere. According to McKinsey’s Next in Personalization Report, some 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t. In today’s highly customizable world, fitness and recreation centers have to embrace personalization to keep members active and engaged. But creating custom experiences and tailoring offerings and outreach to members at the right moment is unquestionably hard to scale.

Enter technology once again. By leveraging digital solutions, recreation providers can craft unique experiences that cater to the interests, needs and goals of individual members.

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With the help of a digital wellness solution, members can receive additional, at-home support in the form of personalized online courses, videos and articles that address their individual challenges and goals. Such solutions offer curated content libraries, including the latest trends and information, without members having to create personalized, up-to-date content themselves.

Technology can automate member communications to send personalized reminders and messages of support. For example, if a member has an appointment to meet with a trainer at their rec center, but they miss the appointment, a digital wellness solution can automatically trigger a message to that member to reschedule their missed session. For those who attend their appointment with a trainer, a digital wellness solution can follow up with an automated message thanking the member for coming and sharing helpful content for them to watch or read that will help support their fitness goals. By engaging members with genuine, automated conversations, and providing access to relevant, personalized content that’s available when and where members need it most, fitness and recreation centers can increase retention, engagement and positive outcomes.

Technology has the power to solve the member retention issues plaguing recreation centers. Turning to a digital wellness solution, providers can streamline their onboarding process, craft personalized experiences and retain members long after their six-month mark has passed.     RM




Clark Lagemann is a seasoned entrepreneur and innovator on a mission to change lives by fixing the biggest problems in healthcare. Currently, as CEO of Avidon Health, he leads a team of behavior change experts who are passionate about providing health strategies that empower people to make positive life changes. For more information, visit www.avidonhealth.com.

Clark Lagemann