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Members don’t agree with free passes


months, over 80% said that they had no intention of joining the club, but had taken the pass because it was free. Free passes come with a very real


security risk to operators too, as there is very little control over who is coming in. Strangers visiting the club can do so by simply fi lling in a short form, and unless proper data validation processes are in place this exposes the operators and existing members to instances of theft or vandalism. Requiring the customer to purchase access with their credit or debit card and receive their access code to their mobile phone eliminates these risks. Most operators will be familiar with


repeat trialists, always on the look- out for the next free pass into the gym. Keeping these customers out can be a challenge as it is reliant on staff recognising the people who come back time and again. At PayasUgym we’ve recently introduced functionality to fl ag repeat users to staff on arrival, helping identify customers who really should be signing up when they arrive at your club.


Your existing members don’t like free passes Free passes don’t just erode the value of your product in the eyes of prospective customers – existing members resent them and are prone to regard their membership as subsidising free access for non-members. Of the customers surveyed who held a gym membership, 88% said that they did not think that non-members should be able to access their club for free, while 64% felt non-members should be able to access the facility for a fee.


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The hidden costs of your free passes quickly add up


Free passes cost more than you think Quantifying the precise cost of each free pass can be difficult, as the cost of each element will vary significantly from club to club, but the costs broadly fall into three categories. There are marketing and advertising


costs to promote the free passes, such as outreach, local advertising, SEO and online marketing. Then of course there are the actual nuts-and-bolts costs of having that person in your club, such as the wear and tear. Lastly there is the resource in carrying out tours and inductions, and cold calling lists of past free-pass guests. Add the missed revenue opportunity in not having charged them to try the club, and some clubs fi nd their free passes are costing them as much as £40 a time. The high cost of each free pass only


adds to the pressure to convert each visitor to a new member – simply in


order to cover the cost of the campaign. Failure to hit that break-even point makes the activity unsustainable.


So what’s the alternative? By effectively marketing your club to the broadest possible audience, and making a paid-for pass to your facilities available you enable the best customers to come to your gym and give it a try on terms that they are comfortable with.


Don’t be afraid The most common fear I deal with on a day-to-day basis is that a paid-for pass will give people an alternative to committing to membership. The stats simply don’t back this up. Going to the gym is inherently a social, community and membership focused activity. Customers derive a strong value from being a member, and it has a powerful motivating effect. Gym goers develop strong and lasting habits around their


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital 63


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