Tech Will Shape Our Industry

Gerald Ratner, in 1991, achieved notoriety in the UK after making a speech in which he jokingly denigrated two of the jewellery products sold by his company. The so called ‘Ratner Effect’ caused the company’s near collapse. In the USA the hashtag #DeleteUber started trending in January and so far, 2017 for Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, it’s been annus horribilis. Although Kalanick has stepped down from Trump’s advisory council, prompting another mea culpa, the embattled ride hailing company is still surrounded by controversy.  Uber’s troubles have resulted in market share gains for Lyft, it’s main competitor, according to TXN Solutions which tracks debit and credit spending. Uber spend across the US has declined since January by 2% while Lyft has jumped 30% on average. In Uber’s home city, San Francisco, spend was down 8% while Lyft jumped 24%.

For IHRSA attendees in Los Angeles the ride hailing service Lyft became the de facto service and for those with ApplePay, a Lyft (get it?) was just a finger touch away…how simple and intuitive. Lyft’s use of the latest technology provides a seamless digital gateway of choice and many lessons for the fitness industry.  Consumers are in control and brands need to stop interrupting with bad technology and trying to sell unwanted products or services and instead start having smart conversations and start listening. Lyft has that conversation and is listening after every ride and if it wasn’t perfect, how could it have been better. When did you receive a request to rate your instructor, the class, the PT, the club even. For me? Never. Those fitness brands who offer transparency of pricing are growing faster than ever and the same brands are open about the good, and maybe not so good, conversations they are having with their customers but they listen and respond. Peer reviews of the workout, instructors and the all-important experience keeps everyone on their toes. 

At the Networking Roundtable chaired by Bryan O’Rourke, operators degraded the heritage CRM systems that the industry is suffering under. So, will traditional CRM systems be dead in 5 years time? Probably. Some heavy competition is being tested in California. Reserve with Google, gives deeper booking integration so local search, which relies on live timetable APIs, becomes more transactional. Previously booking buttons would link away to a third party provider but now its deeply integrated. Mindbody, Full Slate, Front Desk, Appointy are all currently live on Reserve with Google and ZingFit, MyTime and Genbook are coming soon. Only Mindbody were demonstrating this integration at IHRSA but hopefully all will be there next year in San Diego. More competition is coming from Facebook who have recently added local reservations and integrated bookings. Its Events calendar has been turned into a standalone app, allowing groups of friends to book and buy activities together. Airbnb are linking the consumer to a world of fitness experiences which taps Airbnb’s community to offer highly curated opportunities. Even Yelp is accelerating adoption of local listings to include payments and bookings. It won’t be long before Amazon make an announcement in this area, linked to Alexa searches.  All these companies, plus Apple, have fitness teams analysing the industry and how they can disrupt it, search and bookings is an obvious one.

Reserve with Google was live in LA so IHRSA delegates could logon to experience the granular search, from APIs of live timetables, linked to seamless integrated booking. Reserve puts the consumer at the centre of the search and through Artificial Intelligence (AI), constantly learning what type of class or activity you like, will deliver your personalised push notifications that addresses the question of which class, where and what time before you’ve thought of it. Those poised to take advantage of this new era are the boutiques, fitness without boundaries, community activities and meet-ups. In the UK public sector sites and trusts have been early adopters of live timetables and APIs, concretely demonstrating the value of digital. For those of you who are still using Pdf’s, and heaven forbid, a Pdf on an app, then help is at hand.  AiT (Active in Time) http://info.activeintime.com/operator-software-explained/ a UK start-up company provide the free software and for a small monthly charge APIs for those who want to be part of the digital revolution. Over 500 sites in the UK and Ireland are now live and pushing digital innovation.  AiT offers to integrate your live timetables into these new search and booking services as they become available in the UK.

IHRSA is known for its roundtables, as mentioned above, and keynotes. Soraya Darabi, a Young Global Leader of World Economic Forum said we can’t create emotional attachment if we stand for nothing. So Lyft drivers stand for great service, good value and working for a company they admire. From Soraya’s experience at her local gym in Brooklyn she wonders if the fitness industry, which has the potential, will ever develop the same emotional attachment. Martin Lindstrom, a brand futurist, suggested ‘living with the client’ or listening to the consumer because how many fitness sites have anything more than a feedback form? Lindstrom used the supermarket Lowes to show how it was ‘small data’ that helped turn around a failing brand, not big data. Lowes relaunch has some fun elements but Jonny Earle, alias Jonny Cupcakes was off the wall. He created a brand and inspired customer loyalty from shops that don’t sell cupcakes but t-shirts. My favourite was the breakfast t-shirt which you could only buy between 7-11am.

The 21st annual IHRSA financial panel moderated by Rick Caro emphasized that detailed knowledge of the industry is limited even when big investments are being made. l hope Rick will come to London in October for IHRSA Europe and put a panel of UK investors together who have access to the most detailed data on the industry thanks to LeisureDB. LeisureDB will be presenting in October its data analysis platform and the historical trends from its annual State of the UK Fitness Industry Report and live monitoring of the industry from its Social Media Fitness Index.

Historically prospectors in the Californian gold rush needed a shovel and a sieve, now influencers do the spade work for you. ‘Cycologists’ create 45 minute experiences you want to pay $30 for and who ignite avid followers. I’m following Shannon at Aura on Third, https://www.auraworkout.com  and Nick at Cycle House on Melrose, http://cyclehousela.com...Who are you following?

- David Minton, Director of LeisureDB - IHRSA 2017

The LISTED GYM SECTOR IS BULKING UP AGAIN

Last week an article was published in the Investors Chronicle discussing how 'The Listed Gym Sector is Bulking Up Again'. LeisureDB's statistics and David's insights were quoted. 

"Between 2007 and 2011 the industry ticked along quite effectively, but with limited growth due to little innovation. It takes a while for new technology and innovation to have an impact on an industry. Smartphones have revolutionised the way consumers record their daily activity and check their health. The interest in tracking devices and wearable technology could help maintain general interest in fitness and be good for the industry.

The penetration of private health clubs (not under local authority control) has grown from 7.5 per cent to 9.1 per cent in the past four years and the joint public-private penetration is an impressive 14.3 per cent - an all-time high. Although we can point the finger to the rapidly expanding low-cost market for most of this growth, it is worth looking at the underlying technology that makes it possible.

Low-cost clubs are a hub of technology, relying on immediate data science and enterprise security software. Their presence on social media and ability to communicate digitally with customers is impressive and also allows for secondary spend across their mobile platforms.

Timing has played its part in bringing fresh technology, vision, innovation, interest and finance into an industry that we have always believed has enormous potential. Parts of it have been driven from 'data poor' to data-driven businesses and some consumers have turned themselves into walking, running, cycling, swimming and fitness data hubs.

The Gym's successful IPO in November 2015 reintroduced the fitness industry to the City and Pure is about to list, while we understand Bannatyne could also be seeking a flotation. US-based fitness and technology expert Bryan O'Rourke believes the global fitness market will grow by 300 per cent in the next decade. If this happens, it will mean great opportunities for UK brands."

David Minton, Director of The Leisure Database Company

Original article: Investors Chronicle, Bradley Gerrard - The Listed Gym Sector Is Bulking Up

 

Health & fitness industry to see 300% growth!

Via Health Club Management...

Byran O'Rourke believes the health and fitness industry is set for explosive growth over the next decade and could grow up to 300%. 

Here are David Minton's thoughts on the industry's potential...

It's currently the most exciting time to be in the fitness industry in terms of innovation, growth and potential. Three hundred per cent growth is definitely possible: the industry needs to think BIG. Globally we should be aiming for half a billion members. 

Penetration rates are very low in the global fitness industry at present - still in the low single figures in lots of countries - so the potential is enormous, especially in Asia and the developing world. However, there's still huge potential for the market in the UK too, which has grown by two million members since 2007 to achieve 14.3 per cent population penetration. 

Two factors will drive growth: education and experience. Operators need to focus on improving both. Following the lead of the hotel industry, they need to keep investing in the product and innovating. 

They also need to get better at using data to connect with current and potential members. Although we're definitely seeing improvements, historically the industry has been poor at finding out how often members come, what they do and what they spend. 

Change will happen across all ages and demographics. However, certainly in the UK I don't see a huge growth coming from the healthcare sector at the moment because, to engage with the NHS, the industry will need to become far more professional, start talking the same language and take part in clinical trials.