Building member loyalty is a big part of succeeding in today’s intensely competitive fitness industry. One way to boost how they feel about your gym or health club is to show them some love. Here’s a closer look at the member appreciation mandate, along with tips for making the most of your member appreciation initiatives.

Why Member Appreciation Matters

Today’s fitness business members have more options than ever before. While your facility, products, and services are important for member retention and recruitment, something else also factors into the mix: relationships. Here’s where member appreciation enters the picture. Showing members that you value their business goes a long way toward keeping them both connected to your business and invested in its success. 

Member Appreciation 101

One of the easiest ways to make sure your members know they’re appreciated is to host a “Member Appreciation Day.” Take Flemington, NJ’s HealthQuest, for example. Every year, the club hosts an event  on the anniversary of its founding. HealthQuest general manager Deirdre Whalen told Club Industry of the celebration, “Members look forward to it every year — there’s an incredible amount of excitement. We wanted to reach everyone from kids to adults, from members who have been here for years and members who are experiencing their first Membership Appreciation Day.”

In addition to using the event to thank members with free food, classes, and giveaways, the club also uses it to generate buzz about new programming. “We try to have every department ‘wow’ it that day,” explains Whalen. This is also a great opportunity to offer promotions. When HealthQuest debuted its suspension training program at a recent Member Appreciation Day, members who signed up on the spot were given a special deal. The result? A whopping 27 member sign-ups that day. 

Of course, organizing such an event is no small endeavor. But if you start the process early and organize a planning committee that meets regularly, it’s manageable — especially when you consider the payoffs. “I actually highly recommend it to other facilities because you’re giving back to members and letting them know that we appreciate them,” continues Whalen. 

And as it turns out, Member Appreciation Days aren’t just for members. If you’re looking to boost employee morale and retention, you can look forward to this, as well. According to Whalen, staff members who have the day off often show up to help out at member appreciation events because they enjoy being there.

Beyond a Single Day

But why settle for one day when you can devote an entire week to Member Appreciation, like Denver’s Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club? After years of celebrating with an annual member appreciation bash, the club realized it was serving just a small segment of its membership with the one-night event. Now, they offer a full calendar of programming over the course of the week with themed days, such as “Motivation Monday” and “Try It Tuesday,” according to Club Solutions magazine

Group of people posing for a photo in a gym.

Said Greenwood’s president and general manager Paula Neubert, “The goal of appreciating an even greater percentage of our members was achieved. The comments, thank you notes and increased number of check-ins for the week were all confirmation the week is important to our members and made them feel appreciated….If you’re looking to increase retention in your facility, consider hosting a member appreciation week. You may be surprised by the positive results.” 

Don’t have the budget to pull it off on your own? Explore partnership opportunities with local companies who may be willing to sponsor your event in exchange for the exposure. 

Just make sure to adequately market your event in advance to ensure it’s a success and to share photos via social media afterward to generate even more participation and buy-in moving forward. Nurit Chasman, group exercise director for The GYM, told Club Solution of his fitness center’s Member Appreciation Events, “It was fun to see the trainers, members, and instructors mingling and having a really nice time….Hosting these events are so members feel it’s not just a gym. It’s important for them to have connections to the gym workout without just the workout. They want an emotional, social connection.”

Speaking of members and connections, wearable technology is another way to keep members connected.   Download the App to learn about how Accuro can further support member recruitment and retention.