Members might initially join a club based on aesthetics, but they choose to stick around because of the community they become intertwined with.
Even if your facilities are impeccable, your fitness floor is filled with top-of-the-line equipment and you offer extensive Group X programming, all of those are irrelevant if members don’t feel a connection with your club.
Newtown Athletic Clubs makes fostering a strong sense of community a top priority. Linda Mitchell, the director of public relations and community partners at Newtown Athletic Club, shared fives tips for building a sticky community within your club.
Clubs within Clubs
“It has been said many, many times before, but I will say it again: Create clubs or groups within your club that connect people with similar interests. One example is a bike club that trains indoors in your cycling classes, and also bikes outdoors together in planned groups. Another example is our new Six Zone Program, where we run circuit-type training on a continuous loop for three to four hours in six-minute intervals, allowing people to enter the class at any six-minute interval break, staying as long as they like. People work in small groups on six individuals each. This format has created friendly camaraderie and competition and has served to connect the participants.”
“We plan special events or gatherings at least twice a month for our members. In the summer months, they are usually at our outdoor resort style pools and include musical entertainment at our outdoor bar and restaurant. In the winter months we plan indoor happy hours, coffee klatches and the like for targeted segments such as the senior exercisers, the Zumba group, the salon and spa clients, etc.”
“We created our NAC Advocate Inner Circle Group about two years ago to gather the members that we consider to be our raving fans. They are our most enthusiastic, supportive and engaged members. As advocates they receive special communications, unique ticket offers for purchase or free raffles, perks at the salon and spa, invitations to focus groups and each year we throw a grand party for them to celebrate the opening of the outdoor pool complex. If we ever need help with promoting a new program or product, we go to them for support and they are always thrilled to be asked to help. They have their own VIP membership card and receive random perks for services throughout the year. The recognition that they receive as advocates is priceless to them and the loyalty this program creates is invaluable.”
Social Media Hashtag Contests
“Over a year ago we started a new hashtag campaign called #NACLife that allows members to post their pictures to social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram). Each month we select our favorite #NACLife posting and award them with a $50 gift certificate. We utilize hashtag campaigns for most of our programs to promote social media buzz. The #NACLife campaign has served us well to showcase all the ways we ‘Make Lives Better’ (our tagline) and we don’t even have to do the work. If you search #NACLife on Twitter you will see hundreds of posts, and that is just Twitter.”
“Facebook is still our strongest form of social media, although Twitter and Instagram have their followers. When we created a Group Exercise Facebook group, people really started chattering about all the different classes we offer and even posted videos. Teachers were not shy about inviting folks to their classes and promoting themselves. Members check in to see who is going to class the next day and cheer each other on when they have successes. This group concept can be applied to anything and is a tremendous concept within Facebook itself.”
By Emily Harbourne