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The Data Dilemma

api integration

Members want a personalized experience at a health club. But as club owners and operators, with hundreds of members, it can be hard to have a personal, one-on-one connection with every one. However, with the advent of technology, getting a detailed profile on each and every member is quickly becoming a possibility. 

Through member management systems, clubs can collect a significant amount of data about members. Wouldn’t it be extremely beneficial if you could analyze all of this information to create personalized profiles? Well, the good news is, you can.

Keith Catanzano, partner and co-founder of 2River Consulting Group, originally started the company to help mid-size companies, like health clubs, get more out of their data. “We were working with a couple of clubs early on and they said the two issues they were interested in getting more proactive about were member retention — understanding who is at risk of leaving the club and why they are at risk,” said Catanzano. “And the second issue was identifying who were the candidates to sell additional products and services to, like personal training and supplemental programs.”

Accessing member management data requires Application Programming Interfaces (API). An API is a standard way for software systems to communicate with each other. “Deeper API integration allows us to create a more holistic experience for the member,” said Mike Rucker, the vice president of technology at Active Wellness. “They call it a single system of record, which is geek speak for wanting a repository for all of the data that touches the member experience.”

An increasing number of club management software companies are incorporating deeper API integration, which allows for third-party providers, like 2River Consulting, to request member data and also push information back into the system.

“We work with our clients to first connect into all the different sources of data that they have,” explained Catanzano. “Because there are so many great companies that have invested in creating these APIs, we can get to that data using very standard software development practices. We can pull the data in and then for each of our clients, we will build a very unique set of predictive models.”

According to Catanzano, just as Amazon can recommend products and services you might like based on your past purchase behavior, health clubs can use the same method. “We use the same learning techniques to look through member’s behavior and purchases at the club and what we know about that member through different sources of data,” he added. “We help identify who is at risk, but more than that, we can understand why a member might be at risk of leaving, so then as a club owner, you can actually do something about it.”

For example, by tracking data you can see patterns and signs, like if someone is slipping out of their workout routine. By monitoring this data, you can then know when is the perfect time to re-engage them. “Or we can see if someone who was not initially interested in personal training when they went through onboarding, displays some characteristics that they would benefit from personal training,” said Catanzano. “So we can create these second look campaigns to take another look at your members to see who are good candidates for personal training.”

However, allowing for API integration is a newer development and not all software companies have this capability. “The problem is when you don’t have API integration, you have different data sources and all this very valuable information tends to sit in these silos and you can’t do much with it,” said Rucker. “Data for data’s sake really just ends up being a time suck, but if you can bring them into one repository, then you can start doing really interesting correlations that don’t just help the club in regards to operations, but help the member experience. You can do things like have a robust member portal where the members can see all the ways they interact with the club.”

The good news is that, according to Rucker, an increasing number of software companies are starting to include this type of integration. “Just a few years back technology was just an afterthought,” added Rucker. “We are pretty slow to adopt new technology. And a lot of the early technology in health and wellness fell flat. But what you are seeing now is that technology is more prevalent and these companies need to step up.”

Your members are used to living in a technologically savvy world, where everything from ordering a cab on Uber to finding a good restaurant on Yelp is simple. And their experience with your health club should be the same. “They are used to these easy services,” said Rucker. “So if we are not providing that level of service, they are going to complain. To be able to do this, you really need to coalesce a lot of different pieces of software, and vendors that are really good at doing one or two things and then putting that all together in a complete package. API is really the glue that keeps all of this together and allows us to create a cohesive user experience for our members.”

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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