In an omnichannel world, every health club operation should be putting content at the heart of its user experience, and clubs’ in-house stars are the magic ingredient. So says Wexer CEO Paul Bowman in a recent interview with RIDE HIGH magazine.
You can read the full interview here, but here’s a little teaser of what Paul had to say…
Create hybrid experiences
The pandemic may already have accelerated the fitness sector into a hybrid era, but what comes next is vital: ensuring clubs are delivering a true hybrid experience, not merely ticking the box of hybrid technology.
As the buzzword becomes ‘omnichannel’ and the number of channels proliferates, digital cannot be a mere add-on. Equal importance must be given to digital and in-person, with the same experience being delivered whatever the touchpoint.
“And when I say the same, I mean exactly the same,” Bowman told RIDE HIGH. “Every customer will use multiple touchpoints and expect to dive straight in to a familiar experience each time.
“Clubs must therefore learn to view everything they do as one big customer-centric experience, and I believe that experience has to be led by content. Content is the element of a health club offering that can transcend all boundaries, and also happens to be what today’s fitness consumer is looking for.
“Content creation is the absolute cornerstone of omnichannel success.”
Maximise people power
In a world in which “everyone from celebrities to media networks seems hell-bent on becoming a fitness content provider”, clubs still have a major USP, says Bowman: their in-house superstars.
Yes, group exercise instructors have been key to member loyalty for decades, but they’ve become even stronger during lockdown, forging lasting relationships by reaching beyond club walls and supporting communities in their hour of need.
“Clubs must recognise the power their instructors and trainers now hold,” says Bowman. “They are the content creators. They are the face of your brand in the digital arena. They have the power to reach huge audiences.
“If your club is looking for an advantage over the big digital players and the global fitness influencers, this – your team of local rockstars, whose relationships with members weld them to your brand – is it.”
Operators must therefore maximise opportunities to put their in-house superstars in front of customers, both on-site and at-home – and that requires a sustainable strategy for the production of ownable, brand-enhancing, monetizable, local superstar-led digital content.
Make the most of what you do
“Producing digital content doesn’t have to be hard,” Bowman explains. “Start by looking at your live timetable. Where are your superstars? Which are your waitlisted classes?
“Maximize reach and ROI of these classes by installing a simple camera set-up in-studio and filming them, then offer this content on-demand in your studio and to members at home. It doesn’t even have to be beautifully produced: the more fresh content you create, the more forgiving members are on quality.”
Indeed, other than large chains with the budgets to build and run specialist digital production studios, Bowman’s advice is that clubs focus on getting the most out of everything they already do – namely, by filming as much as possible and making it accessible via multiple platforms, both digital and physical.
“You need to see all your content as, well… content. Don’t mentally place in-person content and digital content in different boxes,” he says.
Speaking specifically about indoor cycling, he adds: “As a club operator, there’s great value to be had in producing your own indoor cycling content; we’re having to put more indoor cycling content on our Mobile platform to meet demand.
“The first step is upping the ante on your live classes, potentially running fewer if they aren’t all full but making each a really special event that members waitlist to be part of. Then record the classes for on-demand use in-club – your own signature, ‘wow factor’ cycle classes are suddenly available whenever members come in – as well as at-home.”
Create a win-win
There’s money to be made all round, says Bowman, provided you create a win-win scenario for both club and superstar.
To keep your content creators contributing to your brand rather than going it alone, nurture your talent and find ways to incentivise and reward them for the contribution they make to your now omnichannel business. Give them a reason to promote the content they’ve created with you to their own followers.
“Recognise that their success is your success, but work hard to ensure they know the flip side is also true: that they will do better with you than on their own,” he adds.
As usage and revenue rises, your operation will have more to invest in content, meaning superstars continue to grow… and so the virtuous circle goes on.
Read the full interview here.
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