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TALKBACK everyone’s talking about . . .

member packages S

tructuring membership packages is key to the success of a club. Getting it right can lead to high

numbers of people joining, and remaining as members, because they feel they’re getting good value for money. Getting it wrong can be a barrier to people signing up and can lead to member dissatisfaction. Offering many and varied

memberships was once popular, but now the trend is moving towards simplifying them – defi nitions of families and couples, and even peak and off-peak, can be hard to pin down, and many clubs say too much choice is confusing.

This drive towards simplifi cation may

have been infl uenced by the advent of budget clubs, which have an enviously simple business model of one fl at rate for all. There’s no barrier to joining – many don’t even enforce a contract – and, since they’re so affordable, members feel confi dent they will be able to keep up their memberships even if their circumstances change. But is this satisfaction just down

to affordability, or does it also have something to do with the transparency? Harlands director Kevin Scott says he’s amazed at how frequently clubs hide their fees, not listing them on the website and not even wanting to give


daniel lizio-katzen spabooker • managing director

businesses structure their membership programmes, and have noted some of the best practices related to increasing average revenue per member. One model that works well and


that’s easy to administer is to have two membership levels: one at a standard price

and another that costs ‘x’ per cent more, but that offers an added benefit such as two personal training sessions a month, or two premium classes. From the members’ point of view, these benefits become much less expensive than if purchased separately. From the club’s standpoint, even if the benefits aren’t always used, this approach increases the average ‘per member’ fee. Another benefit clubs can give to members is to offer them

a discount for referrals. This is very effective and I’m amazed more clubs don’t utilise it. Equinox, a premium chain in the US, gives each member who refers a new customer one free month of membership. As people can enroll online there’s no sales commission, and it provides the existing member with a notable benefit. For the club, the cost per acquisition is significantly lower than through traditional channels.

e have the luxury of observing how thousands of

phil rumbelow jubilee hall trust • chief executive

too many membership options, which stopped people joining because it was far too confusing. So we simplified it to annual or monthly rates, although there are still some discounts for corporates and we also offer a concessionary rate. Introducing direct debit (DD) some


10 years ago was a big decision for the trust, since this type of membership is generally associated with private health clubs and our ethos is to be inclusive and accessible. We do offer a ‘pay and play’ option, or members can pay cash monthly – although this costs more – but DD allows for the most profitable operation. We’ve also recently experimented with the budget gym

model, in partnership with GLL, with the launch of the Colombo Centre in Southwark (see HCM May 10, p34). We cut the previous membership price by half and there’s just one membership option, with no concessions. In four months, we’ve almost trebled our members. Our research also shows that a third of them are from the MOSAIC K group, the least affluent group, and the majority have not been gym members before, so it has really broadened the market.

” 26 Read Health Club Management online august 2010 © cybertrek 2010

hen I first joined Jubilee Hall Trust 13 years ago, there were

kath hudson • journalist • health club management

Is less actually more when it comes to structuring memberships? Are prospects fazed by a complicated set of options, or does more choice mean they get what they ideally want?

them out over the phone. People like to do their own research, he says, and this cloak and dagger approach can only act as a barrier to joining. Claiming that too much choice

can be confusing is also patronising to prospects: surely it depends on whether they’re given the chance to mull over the choices while conducting their research, or if they’re bombarded with information at the end of a tour? So, while the trend might be towards

less choice, is this best for the customer or the club? How should facilities best juggle their need to remain profi table with the need to keep members happy? We ask the experts...

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