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Aquatic, fitness and sport facilities headed for membership crisis

Aquatic, fitness and sport facilities headed for membership crisis
September 24, 2020

Market intelligence powered by ActiveXchange suggests that aquatic, fitness and sport facilities are heading towards a mayor membership crisis in the coming months as members who have cancelled or who were suspended during Coronavirus restrictions fail to return.

ActiveXchange analysis, powered by the SportsEye platform and up to date market intelligence drawn from hundreds of facilities across Australia, highlights that in the months ahead facilities and clubs are drifting toward a membership crisis greater than that which they have previously faced.

Suggesting that this “second wave is still yet to come as (the) return of suspended members starts to look more unlikely … with the dust beginning to settle in most states in this new post-COVID norm for aquatic, fitness and sport facilities, operators are taking stock on membership levels, assessing the proportion of members who have cancelled or are still on suspension.”

The current picture
The following graph compares as a baseline, the number of members prior to Covid (February) with the average percentage of members who have cancelled, are still on suspension, and the similar proportion of new joiners over this period (through to September).

When this is split out by demographics it can be seen that the highest proportion of those who have cancelled or are still on suspension are:

The longer-term social value cost
The following graph compares the level of deprivation of members who have cancelled or are still on suspension with current live members. The graph highlights that those in less affluent areas are being significantly worse effected.

This will have significant health and wellbeing costs, some of which will be immediate with mental health. ActiveXchange will be releasing further insight on the impact of COVID on Social Value, and how we are helping operator partners articulate this at a local level and use SportsEye intelligence to mitigate the impact across these priority communities.

Forecasting a second wave
The following graph shows the pre-COVID average member lifetime by demographic group and the 12-month membership length trend leading up to this point. The graph highlights that the older age groups have the higher lifetime values (worth most to facilities), yet as can be seen above, these are the groups who have cancelled most or are still on suspension, and are not being replaced through the new member joiner rates. It is also these groups that generally have the highest Social Value costs to local communities and government.

The graph below shows the 12-month forecast for the average facility, which considers joiner rate trends, cancellation and suspension trends and the trend in average member lifetime by demographic group. These factors are applied to firstly understand the likely number of members at a venue level and how this will change, and then the related impact on revenue.

Based on this forecasting in 12 months the average venue will see a reduction in 31.3% of month membership revenue, equating to 25.3% fewer members compared to pre-COVID, and importantly 10.3% fewer members than today. The highest decline from today to the end of 2020 is expected across the following demographic groups:

Action to take
The SportsEye intelligence platform integrates with each facility’s membership management system and provides the following to support any facility, no matter its size or experience with data:

• Create an accurate baseline forecast tailored to the facility which is then automatically tracked on a rolling basis;
• Utilise the very best marketing intelligence drawn from over 3 million members, coupled with predictive modelling, aligned to each facility’s own circumstances. This drives operational decisions across programming, pricing and retention;
• Focussed new member acquisition campaigns using up to date analysis on who, where, and when to target prospects, and how to target marketing spend to maximise not just joiner numbers, but protect the profile of membership and revenue levels longer term.

The SportsEye platform is helping operators focus on which groups to re-engage, how to prioritise these efforts, and how to optimise and tailor the messaging and offer, tracking across the industry what’s working best on a rolling basis. And then applying this up to date intelligence to each partner venue.

For further information contact or go to

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12th August 2020 - Snap Fitness reports rise in club memberships following COVID lockdown

11th August 2020 - Fitness facilities at the crossroads and demanding new approaches

6th August 2020 - Latest ActiveXchange intelligence shows importance of facilities re-engaging with members as they reopen

15th June 2020 - Survey suggests Australian gyms facing massive membership decline

13th May 2020 - Community aquatic, recreation and sport industry alliance seeks 12-month stimulus package from Federal and state governments

6th May 2020 - Fitness Australia survey finds Australians keen to renew gym memberships

31st March 2020 - ActiveXchange outlines four activities for operators to undertake during Coronavirus shutdown

20th December 2019 - Report reveals Belgravia Leisure’s excellence in water safety and social value

27th August 2019 - Evolt 360 helps client retention at Melbourne wellness studio

25th July 2019 - ActiveXchange’s SportsEye platform secures major Sport, Recreation and Play Industry Innovation Award

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22nd October 2017 - Gemba shares new views on fitness industry retention

3rd March 2015 - Research reveals the social value of a football club

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