Oxygen Blog

Taking a forward look at the health club industry for 2017

Recently I was invited to contribute to Health Club Management’s 2017 Handbook. A number of health and fitness industry commentators were asked to focus on a single theme for the coming year. I chose the importance of reputation:

The health club industry was built with a focus on the tangible experience; impressive buildings, equipment and other assets that attracted customers often on the basis of convenience to home or work. Cultivating a remarkable reputation perhaps was not a strategic imperative when you were the only real choice in town. Now the world is a very different place and consumers are awash with choice. So will consumers increasingly rely on an organisation’s reputation as a way of navigating through a congested marketplace?

Reputation is an emotional reaction towards an organisation and I believe part of the industry has historically paid far little attention to it. Removing a few staff from the gym floor, cutting a few classes or stubbornly enforcing a contract when a member’s life suddenly changes, may create a short-term win, but at what cost to reputation? Conversely, what if an ever-better reputation becomes the catalyst to elevate experiences, to innovate and deepen relationships and as a result create something that becomes ‘remarkable’ – worthy of sharing with others.

Picture showing man and women looking at a phone under the caption - A club's glowing reputation is key to enticing and retaining members

So I hope 2017 will be the year when organisations always act in ways that are consistent with the expectations of all its stakeholders and continually ask themselves: ‘does this action or decision help to improve our long-term reputation?’

You can read this year’s Health Club Management Handbook here: