When COVID-19 lockdown hit leisure centre operators had to rethink how they could continue to engage with customers and provide physical activity while centres were closed. With much uncertainty, including significantly reduced income and the majority of employees on furlough, this was a massive challenge. Social media platforms and content, were the go-to for many, including BH Live.
While this was a solution in the short-term, it became clear to BH Live that its customers, and employees wanted more. Customers needed to see and engage with the familiar faces and activities they were used to seeing and doing in centre – and employees wanted to be involved too. This was the catalyst that spurred BH Live to assess its content opportunities, bring forward digital investment and create a branded, ownable experience – one that would support its customers, and with it the business, not only during lockdown but beyond that too.
To achieve this goal, the social enterprise and leisure trust – which operates several sport and leisure facilities across England’s south coast – approached digital market leader Wexer, who created an ‘anytime, anywhere, any internet-enabled device’ Web Player for BH Live.
As a white label digital fitness platform, Wexer was able to design and brand the player to look and feel like a BH Live product. The result was BH Live Active At Home, as a loyalty-building, perception-enhancing extension of the BH Live Active experience.
A long-term perspective
“We were keen to offer our members a ‘BH Live Active’ experience while our gyms were shut – a way to maintain the sense of community while people were stuck at home – and the Wexer Web Player allowed us to do this,” confirms Rob Cunningham, Head of Leisure at BH Live.
“The option to pre-record and live stream our own content alongside a wide variety of on-demand classes from Wexer’s global content providers, all in our own branded environment, ticked every box during lockdown.
“But we also had a longer-term objective. We wanted to be able to offer both digital and instructor-led classes once our centres were re-open and fully functioning. We wanted our distinct in-person and online elements to sit side-by-side, as two complementary halves of the same customer experience.
“And once again, the Wexer Web Player allows us to do this. The ‘Connect’ section of the player effectively acts as our own TV channel – a space into which we can upload our own content – so members can train with their favourite BH Live instructors online as well as in-person.”
With this hybrid future in mind, BH Live was able to invest in doing things properly, including setting up four dedicated studios for content production. These studios were used predominantly for live streaming during lockdown; moving forward, the focus will be on building a comprehensive library of BH Live Active At Home content – regularly refreshed and available on-demand – to complement the hundreds of on-demand classes in the Wexer library.
Alongside quality of content, BH Live has also placed a strong focus on driving awareness of the at-home offering among its members. This includes a prominent presence on its website, where the BH Live Active at Home entry is top of the drop-down classes menu.
The result of these combined factors has been an impressive uptake in a short space of time: over 12,000 active users signed up in the space of just seven weeks, with most classes engaging well over 100 members at a time.
“BH Live has really embraced the full functionality of the Wexer Web Player, and the results have been exceptional,” says Karen Mason, senior customer experience manager at Wexer. “This is a shining example of how a gym operator can integrate our Web Player into its business to meet – and even exceed – the evolving demands of members.”
Rob Cunningham concludes: “We’re very excited by what we’ve been able to achieve already with our Web Player – the fantastic options it gives us to connect with members wherever they are, and the levels of engagement we’ve already secured.
“We look forward to growing our relationship with Wexer still further over the coming months and years as we fully embed digital alongside the physical elements of our offering.”
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