Could this be the first real New Year’s rush in over two years? Club operators weigh in.
Pre-pandemic, the New Year’s rush was a time that operators from across the U.S. could expect a windfall of new memberships, with many consumers making resolutions to get fit or adopt healthier habits.
However, that trend was disrupted over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Well, operators are predicting the New Year’s rush could be making a comeback. Many are already reporting a surge in holiday memberships, and as a result, are preparing for what could be the first real New Year’s rush since the start of the pandemic.
This includes Joe Cirulli, the owner and founder of Gainesville Health & Fitness. “We are counting on it and preparing for it,” he said. “All of our marketing for the New Year — both internally and externally — will be in full force by December 26.”
Of course, the possibility of a New Year’s rush is dependent upon several factors, such as new variants of COVID-19. In May of 2021, many operators were reporting a surge in memberships that was then halted by the Delta variant. The same could happen as we near the close of 2021.
“I do believe we will see increased demand in the New Year, but I would caution against being overly optimistic,” said Scott Gillespie, the president of Saco Sport & Fitness. “There are still variables out of our control that could affect consumer behavior. One variable is where you live. Texas and Florida for example, where COVID closures and restrictions were minimal, already have a consumer sentiment close to pre-COVID. In Washington state or California, which had lengthy closures and heavy reopening restrictions, these states have a consumer base that has been inundated with messaging building fear. It is likely these areas will take longer to see significant shifts in consumer behavior. The second variable is the Delta and now Omicron variants infection trending. If it increases, and vaccination rates do not improve, that could put a dent in consumer comfort.”
Regardless of the unknown variables, Gillespie added there are still ways club operators should prepare for the New Year’s rush in case it comes to fruition.
“Keep talking safety — air quality, ventilation, air purification, filtration, safe spacing and sanitation,” said Gillespie. “Also, be inspirational in your messaging, building on the benefits of exercising in the club setting. ‘Community, fun, support, variety, energy, classes, being with your people, taking back your heath, real live coaches and trainers to motivate you!’ People need people.”
Interested in learning from other operators and sharing best practices? Consider joining a Club Solutions Mastermind Group. Email Bob Surface at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details while spots last.