Why Virtual Is Being Budgeted by Club Groups in 2016

By Paul Bowman, CEO at Wexer Virtual

As we are now approaching the time of the year where budgeting decisions for 2016 are being made, it is great to see health clubs are adopting technological innovations in their plans for next year to improve their customer journey. I have recently been involved in several budget planning sessions to include virtual as a service tool and I thought I would share the key considerations from the meetings.

January Sales Advantage (for the Sales Department)

According to the International Fitness Trend Report from IHRSA 2015 virtual training is the second biggest trend health clubs need to be aware of, showing 129% growth between 2013-2015.

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As a sales tool virtual has the ability to cater for other growing trends as well.

Growth trends supported virtually are:

  • Barre classes – now the biggest growing trend (141% growth over the past 2 years) is available through Wexer’s content provider Sleek Technique.
  • Virtual self-directed fitness programs – Wexer Accounts team deliver virtual training programs and plans to best align to the clubs’ service goals.
  • Fitness wearables – Wexer currently has integrations with wearables, enabling two-way interaction with the system with heart rate tracking in both virtual and live classes.
  • HiiT training – the fastest growing content on the Wexer platform, delivered through multiple content partners.

Members’ demands for these growing trends can be catered for through the platform’s versatility, making it a better sales tool for sales consultants when attracting new members.

ROI (for the Finance Department)

The ROI potential for virtual is relatively easy to put into context. Looking at the hard numbers, clubs should ask themselves what the value is of a service that can (currently) take 5-15% of the traffic in the club. Making the easy calculation, if you take 5%-15% of your membership income – would that be more or less than the cost of virtual? Our cases typically show a 600-1,000% return on investment applying this methodology, which can be argued, but no matter which way you run numbers on virtual, it will show a significant return on investment which is obviously the final and most significant argument to why virtual is becoming a must-have in clubs around the world.

Live Enhancement (for the Fitness Department)

We are seeing an increasing amount of club groups combining virtual with live instruction, making live group exercise classes differentiated in their delivery. The ability to utilize the virtual installations to create a unique experience can enhance live delivery in two ways. Firstly, through creating an ambience to support the class. Secondly, the use of a live instructor camera feed onto the screen improves visual cues for attendees, which is useful in large busy studios. The benefit can be seen in creating a premium experience for members which further increases the value proposition. With this in mind, the reach of virtual goes beyond the 5-15% using virtual solely and begins to enhance the experience for the 30% typically using live classes.

Communication & Advertising tool (for the Commercial and HR Departments)

One of the largest club groups in the world, 24 Hour Fitness (USA) has recently started implementing virtual across more than 650 studios.  Executive Vice President, Tom Lapcevic elaborates on their broader vision of virtual usage “Firstly, virtual injects audiovisual energy and impactful member marketing and messaging into our live classes.  Secondly, virtual is the ideal platform to uniformly and simultaneously train our 20,000+ employees scattered throughout the country.  Finally, virtual is a powerful communication platform for our third party sponsors and advertisers.”

We are increasingly seeing club groups generate revenue through advertising, from both external commercial partnerships and internal marketing campaigns, which therefore presents a smart way to add to the bottom line.

Furthermore, the training capabilities of virtual platforms also provide a cost saving initiative through savings on time, resources and travel expenses as you are able to digitally communicate with your teams in the most effective way.

Summary

Whatever the individual objectives are for 2016, virtual should be considered due to the ability to support sales numbers, deliver high ROI figures, increase member satisfaction and grow an ancillary revenue. It is Wexer’s ambition to be the platform of choice for health clubs to fulfill these needs. We will continue to innovate and integrate with market leading partners and trends to best serve the industry and stay relevant to the evolving demands of fitness users.

See more here: why budget wexer in 2016