Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

November 2014

IHRSA Report Explores How Clubs Can Retain Members

Health and fitness club operators know that member retention is crucial to business. According to a new report from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), conducted in partnership with The Retention People, communication is key.

IHRSA announced the release of the "IHRSA Member Retention Report (Volume 2, Issue 3)". Conducted in partnership with The Retention People (TRP), this edition explores how members value different types of communication, including in-person, phone, social media, text and e-mail. The impact of various media on retention is also explored. Based on findings from TRP research, the report shows that face-to-face interactions with reception and fitness staff may have the greatest impact on retention.

"The most recent installment of the 'IHRSA Member Retention Report' will help club operators fine-tune their strategy for communicating with members," said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of global products. "Although the preferred communication media varies by gender and age, interaction with club staff plays a key role in keeping members. Combined with a targeted online communication plan, in-person communication helps members feel at home in their club and look forward to frequent visits."

Based on responses from 10,000 health club members, nearly nine out of 10 members value interactions with fitness staff (87 percent), but less than half receive it (43 percent). Longer tenured members—those who have been with a club for more than three years—are more likely to report greater engagement with fitness and reception staff than new members, who have been with the club for less than a year. While this report confirms that face-to-face communication is the most valuable, it also highlights the importance of communication members receive outside club walls. Nearly two-thirds of members value receiving e-mails (65 percent), while more than one-third value receiving social media updates (34 percent).

According to the report, club operators can help boost retention rates by incentivizing staff to interact frequently with members. Through staff interactions and periodic member surveys, club managers might also learn what other types of communication members value. Managers can then target communication specific to member preferences.

"Communication is only as effective as the action that it creates," said Claire Holmes, TRP's general manager for North America. "This report highlights how critical it is to understand and deliver the type of communication that will influence each individual member's behavior. It's also a clear indicator that e-mail, text and social media have a significant part to play in engaging certain member demographics, alongside in-club interactions."

To find out more about how your communication strategy can play a huge role in supporting member retention initiatives, read the full report. For more information, visit

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