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PAYASUGYM PROMOTION


The real cost of Free Passes


The leisure industry gives away tens of millions of pounds worth of access in the form of free guest passes. Thom Cunningham, head of operations at PayasUgym, questions whether this giveaway works, and looks at the alternatives


Are free passes destroying your business? Each year, the leisure and fitness industry gives away tens of millions of pounds worth of free access to their facilities. Prospective new customers are encouraged to try the facilities, and once through the door, the sell can begin. But customers have changed, as


has the way that they buy. Over the past 3 years operators have reported a signifi cant decline in the volumes of walk-in customers taking a free guest pass. This has been driven by a number of factors, most notably an increase in customers’ tendency to browse, compare, and purchase


online. Customers have also become increasingly unwilling to part with personal details, especially in a marketplace that consistently receives poor PR for aggressive sales tactics. So we surveyed 1,500 customers to


fi nd out why free passes weren’t working for them, and to better understand how gym operators can attract the right customers to their clubs. The fi ndings highlight an industry addicted to an increasingly ineffective way of marketing to new customers.


Free passes come with strings attached Customers know that the “free” pass being offered is in fact being exchanged for their personal contact details, so that they can be marketed at. Almost 70% of customers pointed to this as being the primary factor in preventing them from taking advantage of a free pass. More worryingly, over a third of people who had used a free pass admitted to giving false or incomplete contact details to avoid being added to marketing lists. Parting with contact details is not


the only thing stopping customers from taking up the offer of a free trip to the gym. Requirements to take inductions, guided tours and restrictions on the times that they can visit are all identifi ed by customers as barriers to trying a new club for the fi rst time.


In a survey, 80 per cent of those who took a free pass had no intention of joining 62 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


Free passes keep the best customers out (and let the worst in) The best customers are those who attach a value to your product or service, and who are prepared to pay for it from the outset. These customers display a much higher purchasing intent, and unsurprisingly a higher propensity to convert to membership on the back of a positive experience at the club. Of the customers surveyed who had used a free pass in the previous three


May 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


*PayasUgym surveyed 1500 customers between Feb 17 and March 3rd 2014


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