Tag Archives: Marketing

Event Marketing: How to attract new customers to your fitness studio

26 November 2018 openplay Leave a comment Marketing

The key to getting new customers is to get them through the door.

While it would be lovely to make a profit from the events themselves, you should be prepared to offer your classes and products at a loss, focusing instead on the bigger picture.

Once you have all of the details of your event in order, you need to get the word out. Use social media and your website for online promotions, and distribute flyers to local businesses (including your own) and homes.

Marketing events are more meaningful and intimate than a mass email, so can be hugely valuable to both your potential customers and your business.

Buddy workout and drinks



The majority of people are motivated by other people when it comes to keeping fit. Many individuals only participate in a workout if they are dragged to the gym by a friend. Thankfully, this pack mentality promotes gym membership growth.

To give this effect a little push, host a “bring your buddy” night once a month. Members’ friends get the chance to visit your studio for a class and afterwards they can hang out with your customers and your team. Sell drinks at a discounted price, with only a small profit margin, so visitors do not feel like they are being stung. Offer a membership premium rate to anyone who signs up for a membership at the event and two free passes to next month’s event.

Flash Sale

One day a month or term, your studio can transform into a high-end fitness clothing store. Collaborate with an apparel brand and hold a sale day- Black Friday, May Madness- any excuse.

Try to coordinate your event with “Pay Day,” so money is not the reason someone misses out. The clothing company will benefit from adding your customers to its list and you, in return, will reap the rewards of their happy shoppers. Everyone welcome, members and new sign-ups get an extra 5% discount.

Workshops



Yoga, as a genre, is known for its high retention rates. Its following is partly due to its ability to simultaneously fire-up and relax the body and mind; it can feel addictive. However, it is also a progressive workout: one that can very clearly be tracked by a person’s increasing ability to hold a balance and growing flexibility. Yoga lends itself well to workshops, with many studios offering events on ‘Handstands and Inversions’, ‘Breath Control’, or even week-long retreats in Ibiza.

Workshops can serve any sport or fitness style, as people aspire not only to get fit, but to improve technique, prevent injury, and master steps. Workshops do not need to be solely movement based but could be diet focused or lifestyle enhancing.

If you do not have the knowledge to host a particular seminar reach out to industry professionals for help. Sometimes a physio or other expert will offer their services free of charge in exchange for access to your members.

Charitable Marketing Event

Whether the intentions are selfish or selfless, businesses are perceived as generous when they donate to a charity. Choose a cause that aligns with your business; it might be sporting access for people with disabilities or maybe an environmental charity to offset any emissions your studio generates.

Sport and exercise are one of the leading go-tos for charity events. Marathons and cross-country bike rides are often the motivational pushes that inspire people to rise from the couch and get exercising. Whether you decide to enter a team into an organised event or you host an event at your studio, encourage your members to get involved.

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How to write engaging content for your sports website

19 November 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

So you want to write engaging web content. You, yourself, are passionate about your business. You know you provide something special and want nothing more than to convey your expertise and passion to others. One could have stellar instructors, top-notch classes and the sweetest smelling shower gels in the world, but if you can’t translate this into words that entice the reader, your message falls flat. Often a straightforward change such as choosing a shorter phrase or a rhyming word can transform an otherwise mundane sentence. Words are powerful. Choose them wisely.

Accurate grammar

We all should have been taught real proper grammar at school, alas many of us still struggle with the principles (or principals?) of even the most basic sentence structure. What is the difference between a colon and a semi-colon? What even is a semi-colon? Well, as they say; practice makes perfect. Or is it practise makes perfect? If these common mistakes are enough to fry your brain, then/than the desktop plug-in, Grammarly, can be of assistance. Grammarly goes above and beyond the swift spell check of Word or Pages, correcting sentence structure and flagging words you’ve overused. The site will also discourage you from using the passive tense, which will lead to much sharper and more succinct copy. Grammarly will make you perfect at punctuation and a wicked wordsmith.

Avoid jargon and cliches

“Tabata reps for peak RPE, followed by a steady cool-down to kerb DOMS.” You might understand this, but the layman doesn’t, and he is certainly not going to google every definition because he will assume this class is for more advanced students. Opt for universal terms that do not alienate beginners.

Make it Unique

Before writing copy for your website, you will probably check out the competition to see a variety of styles and options. Perhaps you can steal the gist of theirs and rework a word here or there? Resist, resist, resist. By all means look for inspiration, but then close down all tabs and focus on what your brand is uniquely selling. Brainstorm words that come to mind when you think about a particular class you are selling or your brand as a whole.

Sell your story

You may find it mushy and cringeworthy to talk about your life-long dream of teaching football to kids and the passion you feel for your job, but it sells. To use a crude example, the XFactor is relentless in its showcasing of contestants’ sob stories. They go all out with the moan of violins, tears rolling down faces and old photos of late grandparents. Viewers know it is a tactic to reel them into the show, yet it works time and time again. You will, obviously, do away with the frivolities and let your story stand up by itself.

Rhythmical sentences

Sentences work well when they have a flowing rhythm to them. Listen to everyday conversations, and you will discover that the human race has developed a speech that is full of rhythm. The best writing reflects this natural lilt. Try reading some of your sentences aloud to see if they sit For whatever strange reason, lists work well in threes. The writing industry calls it the “magic three” and now you’ve heard of it you will notice it everywhere.
Example: Barre is a ballet based workout performed to classical music. Lunge, leap and laugh (1,2,3) your way to a longer, leaner physique.

Use language that matches the genre

When choosing a picture to represent a Yin yoga class, you would go for one that is brightly lit, featuring a stressed-out woman. Language can lull or liven the senses. For a calm class, you might choose words with soft letters: mellow, breath, relax. Words that pack a punch work well for more upbeat classes: attack, crunch, kick, boom (you can just picture the Batman graphics). Through the clever use of word sounds, you can give potential customers a greater understanding of what you offer.

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How to increase member retention: A guide for sports centres, gyms and studios

7 August 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Memberships

It’s the same every year; January sees a flock of eager Christmas-pudding shifters clog up the gym as they attempt to do sit-ups on the leg curl machine. But most of these blow-ins are nowhere to be seen come February. Gyms must work harder to motivate and retain these well-intentioned newbies if they want to keep their membership numbers up.

Redundant memberships are more common than active ones. The less a member uses your facilities, the less likely they are to renew their membership. For every additional visit a person makes each month, their risk of cancellation reduces by 33%.

So how can you increase member retention? The answer is surprisingly simple: communication and engagement.

Reward member loyalty

Your longtime members are most likely to become dissatisfied with your service. To combat this, consider offering a point-style loyalty system where people earn a free smoothie after five visits or free personal training session after 20 visits. Reward them with extra guest passes, which, in turn, could gift you with new members.

Implement a CRM system

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is booming in the technology world and beyond. CRM is usually stored in the cloud, where it records, reports, and analyses each interaction between a business and its customers. When you understand your customers; remember their previous requests, their birthday, and their goals with you, they feel valued. Your CRM system is built into your OpenPlay account, so you can access a customer’s details and discover their relationship with you directly from your OpenPlay dashboard.

Curious? Learn more: CRM- A complete guide

Promote PT and group classes

It is not the swanky heated pool or treadmills with Sky Tv that will keep the bulk of your members coming back; human interaction will. People are socially motivated. Whether it’s a group fitness class, where friends can work out together, or a personal trainer who will scream at clients for missing a session, humans need to be involved.

Challenge cycles

Make every second month the “January rush”. Host a ‘30-day Challenge,’ where people compete to complete the highest number of workouts in 30 days. Introduce a leadership board and get your staff to promote the competition or even join it. These competitive events will keep customers engaged and help them achieve their exercise goals.

Reach out to inactive members

Using your CRM system, you can track member activity. Send polite, motivational emails to those who have been absent for a few weeks. Recommend your favourite upcoming classes, Attaching workout tips and remind members that your staff are always around to help with any questions or concerns.

Staff engagement

To keep members engaged, you need your facilities to feel like a community. A hello is free, and a smile costs nothing, so make sure that every employee is friendly and forthcoming. Wherever possible, learn clients’ names, and use them. Staff should be extra accommodating with new members- yes, the January mob! Show them how to use equipment, recommend appropriate classes, and welcome them into the community.

Question: What tactics have you used to increase member retention?

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SEO 101 for sports and fitness websites

31 July 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Technology

With over 57,000 searches per second and at least two trillion searches per year, Google is your biggest marketing tool. Search Engine Optimisation is the name given to the activity of improving a web page’s ranking on Google (other search engines are available) without simply paying for advertising. Social media can drive a certain amount of traffic to your website, but the majority of visitors are scooped up by the clever use of SEO.

So how do you use SEO effectively?

SEO beats PPC when you promote local

With the top four spots being taken up by paid advertisements, known as “pay-per-click” or PPC; the remaining Page 1 positions are highly contested for through the use of SEO. Unfortunately, 65% of clicks are made through PPC sites.

Sports providers shouldn’t be disheartened if pay-per-click isn’t an option. For many location reliant searches, such as sports clubs or fitness classes, ads don’t even surface. For example, if you type “Tennis in London” or “Football camp Leeds”, both return advertless results, with the top spots taken up by local sports providers.

To secure a premier place, feature plenty of location-specific words on your website, and be sure that your meta-description clearly states the purpose of your business. Pay-per-click is a quick fix that will gift you instant clicks. SEO is a long-term investment that grows in value as clicks accumulate over time. SEO turns out to be a better return on investment if you are hoping for steady and sustainable growth.

Use keywords

You don’t just want to be found; you want to be found by the right people at the right time for the right reasons. Keywords are essentially the words that people are most likely to type into their search engine when looking for a business like yours. In fact, keywords are really key phrases; they are likely to be three to five words long.

Unfortunately, an excellent article doesn’t equate to lots of visitors, shares, and business. You must use keywords, which can be annoying as it often requires you to choose the most common word rather than the most eloquent. Choosing your keywords is, for the most part, common sense, but you can use tools such as Google Adwords Planner or Serps to compare the popularity of phrases.

SEO trends change as frequently as the weather

If you want to master SEO you have to be prepared to follow the trends. For the most part, your keywords will stay relevant, but you can use tools like Google Trends to see if the words you feature are still being searched. It’s not only keywords that are subject to change but Google’s very algorithms.

Right now local businesses do well, but Google has become increasingly commercial in its approach to its search results. Pay-per-click ads have recently increased from three to four of the top results, making it harder and harder for businesses to reach people organically. As the monopoly shifts towards the money spenders, new SEO trends will, no doubt, emerge to keep smaller businesses in play.

Click Bait is out. Click through is in

Before the interweb grew its wisdom teeth, it was easy for mediocre content or even complete nonsense to scam the system and rank highly in search engines. Nowadays, Google’s algorithms are smart and only reward valuable content.

Consumers are delighted they no longer have to wade through click-bait rubbish; businesses should be too. However, content providers now have to work harder in order for their articles to rank.

You want people not only to read the content of the page they visit but “click through” to other sections of your site. Include links to more blog posts or your sales page, so you drag visitors deeper into the rabbit hole of your website whilst you climb up the search ranks.

Read more: Website tips for sports providers

Quality is a delicate balancing act

Google’s algorithms have shifted to favour websites that feature quality content. Quality content is the primary factor in an effective SEO strategy.

Quality is defined as original material that caters to popular searches and trending topics. However, these demands are somewhat counterintuitive. Indeed it is difficult to be original when writing about issues that everyone is writing about. Try to find a new angle on a popular subject. Again, keywords, keywords, keywords.

Count the seconds

If people don’t scroll to page 2 of a search result, why do you think they will read to the bottom of your blog post? *Spoiler alert*- they won’t. The two come hand in hand. Good content makes it to Page 1; good content is read in its entirety.

For every second a viewer spends on a page, the value of the page itself increases. You might think that you can write a thousand words of heavy going, thesaurused content and complicated syntax, but realistically this will have people x-ing out before reaching the second line. Choose words carefully and write succinctly to ensure you carry your readers right to the end of your article.

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Does my fitness business need an app?

24 July 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

On the storage-challenged iPhone, gigabytes are a precious commodity. Apps are clogging up users’ phones, meaning that they are quickly binned if not a priority. Before you decide to become one of over 2.2 million apps fighting for attention in the App Store and one of 3.5 million in the Google Play store, take a look at the pros and cons of building an app for your business. Here are six questions you should ask yourself before investing in an app.

1) Is my website complete?

Before you even begin to consider an app, make sure that your website is fully functional, user-friendly, and mobile responsive. Nowadays it is essential that your site can be viewed easily on a mobile device. This does not immediately constitute the need for an app. Mobile view is not merely a smaller version of a desktop screen (we have all experienced trying to zoom in on a page that is A2 sized) but one that is enriched by the compactness of a smaller screen. Corner drop-down menus, scrollable content, and thumbable links are essential for a mobile website. Google now punishes sites that do not adapt to mobile by demoting them in search rankings.

2) How many power users do I have?

Your website reels in new customers. Your app retains them. If someone downloads your app, they have sacrificed someone else’s app, or deleted an Oasis album, or erased their family Whatsapp group; they are a loyal, heroic customer. You need to determine the number of power patrons you have. If you are a studio with mostly drop-ins and casual users, your app will get little attention. Membership clubs, on the other hand, can create an app that enhances the customer’s experience by soothing pain points and offering quick booking, easy access to timetables, and premium features.

3) Are push notifications useful for us?

Push notifications are a bit like emails, except they pop up on your phone and are sent directly from an app. They aim to increase engagement and to market new products or updates. Push can also remind a user to complete an abandoned purchase or to come back to the gym: “We haven’t seen you in Spin for a while.” While Push is a great marketing tool, it is not a million miles away from email alerts so that the system could be applied to your email marketing strategy instead. The advantage of push is that the notifications do not get boxed away in promotions or junk folders.

4) What pain points will my app solve? What extras will it offer?

An app is all about customer ease. At a sports club or gym, an app will eliminate the need for customer loyalty cards and membership zappers- as digital barcodes become the new access control. Your app should streamline the customer experience, keeping members up-to-speed with their fitness progress, purchase history, and upcoming appointments. Having this toolkit of information and services in a single app will increase member satisfaction.

Gymgoers will be able to view and book classes straight from the app. Afterwards, a pop-up feedback form gives them a chance to rate the experience, showing that you value and listen to their views.

In-app purchases are convenient for customers and valuable to you. Perhaps clients can pre-order a smoothie via your app, so it is ready and waiting for them when they finish their workout.

5) Do I have a customer loyalty programme?

Member retention is directly correlated to facility usage and business engagement, so an interactive and personable loyalty scheme is highly advantageous for any fitness business. For your app to maximise retention, you should integrate it with your customer loyalty programme. Your app will track a client’s fitness journey, offering rewards based on the number of classes they take, sweat buckets they fill, or burpees they bust. Your duty to your customers is to help them achieve their health and fitness goals so that they will appreciate push notifications and motivational rewards.

6) Do my competitors have apps?

It is always a good idea to suss out the competition. Download a competitor’s app for yourself and have a play around. Check out the number of downloads and the user reviews to see how popular and successful the project has been. If it looks like their app has received little attention and is full of bugs, then perhaps it is a sign that your market isn’t ready and a business of your size cannot afford a high-quality app.

7) Is it worth it?

Many of the big chain facilities have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds into developing half-baked apps. Unless you have a faithful customer base and plentiful resources to build a highly useful app, don’t bother. On average, for a fairly basic, well-designed app, agency fees will cost between £50,000 and £100,000. The larger app companies demand an extra zero on the end of those two figures. An app is not a requirement for fitness facilities at the moment, although this is likely to change in the future.

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Customer Relationship Management (CRM): What is it and do you need a system in place?

27 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Analytics, Booking System, Marketing, Memberships, Operations, Technology

In 2018, customer relationship management (CRM) software became the leading and fastest growing software market, with a growth rate of 16%, according to research by Gartner. Worldwide, CRM software revenue reached $39.5 billion at the end of 2017, surpassing that of database management systems (DBMS). With such rapid growth, people have been given little time to get their heads around what CRM actually is. Many people use the word, sounding impressive in emails and board meetings, but frequently they confuse its meaning with more general management software. So, what exactly is CRM and should your wellbeing business use one of these highly complex systems?

What is it?

Simply put, CRM is a way to manage and improve your interactions with customers and potential customers. Sometimes it refers to a company’s theoretical strategy or process. In its most recent format, it is a software product, usually stored in the cloud, that records, reports and analyses every interaction between company and customer. It sounds very Big Brother, but it is intended to serve both the service provider and the consumer.

The Benefits of CRM

  1. Personalised marketing: CRM allows for a more personalised approach to marketing. Think of targeted ads that follow you around the internet; CRM refines this personalisation further. Customers or potential customers are only advertised to about products or events that are highly relevant to their interests.
  2. Automated sales: Salespeople cannot afford to waste time rooting through spreadsheets and notepads to remember their relationship with a customer. CRM puts this information directly onto their dashboard allowing for a much smoother and more effective pitch.
  3. Higher retention: It is proven that retention rates and member usage are directly correlated. For each additional visit by a member in any given month, the risk of that member cancelling in the subsequent month is reduced by 33%, according to research by IHRSA. With a fitness CRM system, you can monitor and reach out to inactive members who are most vulnerable to cancellation.
  4. Customers feel valued: A mother might call with a query about her daughter’s tennis group. With an efficient sports CRM system, you can quickly search her name and load every previous interaction. With the facts laid before you in your dashboard, you will be able to provide a more personalised customer support service. Member care is a journey; it evolves as your members change.
  5. Happy Birthday: Automatic birthday wishes can be sent to every client with the gift of a special offer. For many activity providers, kids’ birthday parties are a big chunk of their income. An effective CRM system could decipher appropriate clients and send a promotional email in advance of the child’s birthday.

Budget for change

CRM systems for sports typically contain vast amounts of sensitive personal data, such as customer contact information, date of birth etc. This information increases in value over time, as a customer’s profile builds up. In its very nature, CRM is prone to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) non-compliance. CRM budgets are expected to increase as companies follow GDPR procedures.

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Should your sports centre offer dynamic pricing?

25 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations

Dynamic pricing has been a part of flight sales for years. You check the amount, think about it, then return to book the next day and find out it has doubled in price. Now, many leisure centres, fitness studios, and sports courts are using dynamic pricing to increase usage and maximise profit. It makes sense; isn’t it better to have a tennis court filled, even if the profit margin is slimmer? Does dynamic pricing solve the gym’s most prominent issue of being either too full or not full enough? The answers are not as straightforward as you might think.

How does it work?

There are many software products that each have their method of determining price points. First off, the studios themselves set their price margins: the minimum and maximum they are willing to charge for a class. Then the algorithms kick in. The method works by taking the actual capacity utilisation of a studio. Let’s say a studio is, on average, at 60% capacity. Dynamic pricing aims to increase this figure while also growing revenue. However, it is possible for this studio to improve its capacity utilisation to 70%, yet revenue stays level or decreases, due to lower prices.

Who will benefit?

Dynamic pricing is particularly useful in the boutique fitness market, where customers will pay premium prices for premium slots. Then there are the many people who cannot afford to participate unless the price is lower; dynamic pricing gives them access to slots depending on when they book. Facilities that are in high demand (such as squash courts) can also do well from a dynamic model, as space will only go to waste if a timeslot is left open.

Will dynamic pricing put people off advance purchasing?

A tool like Zenrez offers a pricing structure that decreases the value of a class as the starting time nears. A descending model may seem like a positive move; that empty spot gets filled- fantastic! Ultimately Zenrez’s programme discourages early-bird bookings, causing a last-minute flurry of activity and studios struggling to predict and manage class numbers. Your class might be full, but your margins are squeezed and your customers are less loyal. People who wait until the final moment to book your classes have proved that they could take or leave your service. They are an unreliable customer that could very quickly jump ship.

What about an ascending price model?

Perhaps more useful are the systems that turn this algorithm on its head, rewarding early booking and slowly hiking the price as the time nears so that a reservation made the final hour costs up to £6 more than one made a week before. This system is more effective than a descending model and is proven to be useful in the airline industry. However, an ascending price structure can dissuade some people from booking at all.

Introducing your customers Jane and John. Jane is delighted she bagged herself an early deal for Boxfit and views your studio favourably. John doesn’t know what his plans are in a week’s time and cannot commit to a class seven days in advance. It comes to the day of, and John resents paying more than Jane for the same service. That bitter taste makes John spiteful. Maybe he is a spiteful guy? Or, quite possibly, many more of your customers are a little miffed. Jane, on the other hand, is a loyal customer who prioritises your classes, instead of offering Jane a discount on individual courses, you should be focusing on promoting class bundles or a membership.

Will it encourage more pay-as-you-go purchases and discourage memberships?

The short answer is yes; well, probably. With an abundance of choice in studios and gyms, pay-as-you-go is very popular, particularly amongst the younger generation who enjoy varied workouts. At the end of the day, each venue wants you to train with them and them alone. So if you bring dynamic pricing into the mix, aren’t you encouraging people to earn discounts by paying for individual classes?

In Conclusion…

By all means, experiment with your pricing; perhaps a dynamic model will work for your studio. However, if you want to build a loyal customer base, maybe it makes more sense to provide value for money memberships. Regarding pay-as-you-go, peak and off-peak is a tried and tested method that few customers seem to begrudge.

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Increase Revenue From Retail At Your Fitness Studio

18 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Marketing, Operations

Having a finely displayed range of retail items can add character to your reception, giving it a boutique feel. Your customers should enter your venue and be comforted that you can offer them all they need to attend a class. Retail is not always a success, to begin with. You will need to shop around to find items that match the professionalism and ethos of your brand. If items don’t sell, cut your losses and hold flash sales (an excellent form of event marketing) or sell these items at a highly reduced cost to your staff members. When done right, retail has the potential to massively increase revenue at your fitness studio.

Give customers the Prime service

Amazon Prime has got it sussed when it comes to customer ease. The purchase process is almost completely frictionless, with people now asking Alexa to order the batteries. Whilst it is not yet necessary for you to be integrated with Alexa, you can take Amazonian steps to make it easier for your customers to purchase things. Perhaps they can pre-order a shake through your app, so it is ready and waiting for them when they finish their workout. The whole point of your retail station is that it is more convenient for your customers to purchase from you than to head to a nearby shop or cafe.

Food and Drinks

Obviously selling bottled water is a must for all fitness facilities. Consider switching to an eco-friendly version, such as Aquapax or Voss. When selling a higher end product, you can increase the markup, and people are happier to pay a little more if it is helping the planet. Plus, it shows that your brand cares about the impact it creates. In addition to healthy drinks, why not host a post-workout social on Thursday evenings, even if only once a month around pay-day, and encourage members to mingle over beer and wine.

Collaborate with alternative clothing brands

A lot of studios choose the mainstream brands: Nike, Adidas, Sweaty Betty, Lululemon. With high street shops on every second corner, is there any point in joining them? Your customers know them well and many will walk right by your clothing rail, assuming you are selling the products for a higher price than they could get in a store. You should spend time researching more obscure labels, in any case; these companies will be more excited about the collaboration. Promoting an indie label will prove to your customers that you are “in the know” for all things fitness and have a good eye for up and coming trends.

Forgotten Items

When coming from work or squeezing classes in between daily tasks, it is easy and a nightmare to forget workout gear. Water bottles, leggings, sports bras, are neglected time and again by busy fitness goers only to be sorely missed during an exercise class. In addition to fitness apparel, consider stocking some items that facilitate an easy exit. There is nothing worse than forgetting a spare pair of socks and have to hit the town in a damp pair or worse- sockless. Price the pieces so they are a little more expensive than a high street chain but not so expensive that impulse purchases are out of the question.

Gift Vouchers

Gift vouchers are your finest sales accomplishments. When customers love your brand, they want nothing more than to encourage friends to join them for a fitness class. Sometimes mates are resistant; a gift voucher is the perfect ploy to get them through the door and get them hooked.

Branded items

What better advertising for your brand than to have your customers wear your logo? It’s a bold form of marketing; your customers literally pay to advertise on your behalf. Whether it’s a sports bag, hoodie or reusable water bottle, selling branded items earns you both cash and marketing rewards. The customisation market is rife with companies of questionable quality. Shop around and don’t sell out for a cheap deal unless you want your brand to look cheap. Ordering branded items is a long process if you do it right. Reserve in small batches to determine product quality and then bulk-buy once satisfied.

Luxury Treatments

If you are an upmarket studio consider hiring a hairdresser on Friday and Saturday evenings or a part-time masseuse one or two days a week. If you do not have the space or the clientele for such services, consider partnering with local hair salons, physios, or massage parlours to cross promote your services and provide discounts.

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Website Tips for Sports Businesses

13 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

It is essential that you invest in the front end of your business. We provide booking software for sports providers big and small, so we have seen and worked with our fair share of websites. Sometimes, it is not the flashiest, most expensive site that stands out (or indeed that takes in the most bookings). Having said that, nobody ever built a website out of peanuts. Hiring a website developer is a significant investment, costing upwards of three grand. Of course, this would give you a bespoke, glossy finish and a highly functional site. Many people choose to go with a DIY site builder, such as WordPress. Using such templates result in a more generic, less professional looking website, which often struggles to integrate with other software. Whatever route you choose, you must have a clear idea of the look and feel you want from your site.

Prioritise the visitor

You may want to get lots of useful marketing information from your customer via a booking form: How did you find us? Would you recommend us to a friend? Resist that urge. These questions are irritating and may lead to a customer dropping out before purchasing. Perhaps you want to hammer home your mission statement and flaunt your qualifications and triumphs. Yes, your business must look successful, but avoid slipping into the realms of boasting. Your website is not about you; it is about what you provide. So be generous; give them a taste of what you offer. Your site should be a virtual representation of your business; show what you provide, rather than telling them. Which leads us to the next point…

Photos are essential, but videos stand out

Most activity providers have lots of pictures of children having fun at their camps and courses. Instead of having a “Gallery” page, scatter these photos throughout your website so that every page is brimming with smiling students. Videos of practice or matches give potential customers a glimpse into the experience they will get if they sign up for your club.

Keep things simple

Start with a simple navigation bar, with clear headings, so your visitors immediately know which section to click. Nobody likes clutter: you only have to think about Ryanair’s jumble sale of a website to consider cancelling your holiday plans. Don’t have a master’s degree in the English Language? Don’t worry, because customers favour conversational English over stuffy technical jargon.

Mobile-Desktop View

Mobile is fast becoming the surf medium of choice. It is vital that you consider how your website looks on both a desktop and a mobile. The mobile view is not merely a smaller version but must be explicitly designed with a phone screen in mind. Text should be clear and large enough to read, without having to zoom in. Include a slick, pop-up menu bar for easy navigation. A nice touch is a click-to-call feature, so customers can ring without having to dial the number.

Online bookings

This is the most important element of your website. Yes, we may be biased, but what is the point of your site if not for people to book your facilities and courses. OpenPlay’s bespoke booking system provides a streamlined booking experience. People can book on a desktop or via their mobile, meaning that your booking window is 24/7 and accessible from anywhere in the world.

Up to date information

So this is obvious, but make sure that everything a customer needs to know is there. If the last event advertised is for a summer course in 2005, they will assume you’ve closed up shop and will look elsewhere. Include a news section, so visitors can see that you have activities and events happening all the time. Age groups or available course are the first things that your customers will look for, so make this information easy to find. We would recommend having these available on your homepage as well as on their specific TAB so that visitors can click directly to a booking.

Connect your social media

People engage 25% more with brands that are on Instagram. Make sure to connect your social accounts with your website. Whatever platform you engage with most should be featured on your site; whether that is a rolling Twitter feed or an Instagram tile display.

Good grammar

Bad grammer makes you’re websight look amature. Grammarly is a desktop plug-in that will check your text for any mistakes. It is more thorough than the simple spell check of Word or Pages. It will help you with punctuation, turns of phrase, and even suggest alternative words for when it thinks you have not quite nailed your word choice.

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Reducing Paper at Sports Centres

11 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations, Technology

Whether it’s the rising threat of global warming, the stress of sorting through mounting documents, or simply a fear of papercuts; in the age of digitisation, paper and printing products are edging towards extinction. People are discovering that printing is an unnecessary expense, with the average small business spending £14K per year, according to research by software developers Reckon. Paper and ink are just the tip of a melting iceberg; hidden beneath the surface are the costs of keeping traditional filing systems, employee time, and machine maintenance.

Switch from paper bookings to online bookings

Paper is fiddly to manage and far from secure. Storing your data through a booking system like OpenPlay means everything is in one place and nothing gets lost. More importantly, no private information can be misappropriated (GDPR alert!). Our venue management software caters to block bookings, recurring payments, voucher codes and lots more. There is no longer a need to scribble or score out mistakes. Quickly alter, cancel, or refund a reservation and issue automatic confirmations to the customer. Unlike manual paper methods, our CRM (customer relationship management) system records your client interactions, so all information is up-to-date, relevant, and personalised. Ditch the Filofax and paper spreadsheets; a quick glance at your OpenPlay dashboard tells you your facility’s usage rates, financial information, and demographic breakdown.

Digital Registers

Digital registers not only reduce your printing needs, but they are kept up-to-date. Any last minute changes to registers are instantly registered in the system, meaning that instructors have an accurate register right up to the moment they begin their class. Bookings are coordinated with registers, so you can sign attendees can sign and out via the OpenPlay app, or instructors can sign them in via the coach app. You can also add notes, such as illnesses or allergies, to a client’s name, so your coaches and staff will be automatically updated.

Read more: Eliminate single-use plastic at your gym

Implement Recycling Bins

Sometimes paper needs to be used. The polar bears will forgive you for the odd printout, but only if you print back to back and only if you recycle. Create a recycling hub behind reception and print out posters to remind employees and guests to recycle… or don’t actually. Scratch that last point.

Other ways you can help the environment…

  • If you sell plastic bottles of water, why not swap to reusable bottles and provide water fountains.
  • Switch from paper towels to hand towels or energy efficient hand dryers.
  • Perhaps instead of music for classes, you can have your coaches sing or beatbox in between instructions.
  • Ban wrapping paper from the company’s Secret Santa; it is never a surprise anyway.
  • Switch off air-conditioning/ heating. Tell clients this aids muscle recovery and hope they don’t know any better.
  • A popular environmental fitness trend straight from LA is to drain your swimming pool of water and hold mock swim classes instead. Students have found that imagining the resistance of the water means that they are not only working their muscles but also exercising their creative minds.

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