The health club industry has a high degree of churn due to low-cost competitors and lack of commitment to a regular routine.
Virgin Active is a chain of health clubs, gyms and spa’s operating in 8 countries across 4 continents. The group has 233 clubs with a membership of 1.4 million. The health and fitness experience is designed entirely around each member. Revolutionary equipment and cutting-edge classes curated by expert teams and qualified instructors, ensures a quality member experience.
In recent years, there has been a rise in ‘no frills’ health club brands, such as easyGym andPureGym, offering lower membership fees due to their no bells and whistles approach. With strong competition in this competitive market, Virgin Active had to respond by providing their members with something more. They wanted to provide more value for money.
Virgin Active recognised that one of their key USPs was their connection and leverage to other Virgin brands. This opened up the discussion around membership not being limited to the health club brand. Working alongside the team, who had already been working with Virgin Active for a couple of years prior on other digital projects, we were asked to build the new member portal for their customers.
We developed the new portal on Sitecore, their platform of choice, as a new site. Key to the portal was the ability for customers to login with their existing member details. This meant that we needed to develop and integrate a new API which connected to their three different backed member management systems (consolidation in the industry means many clubs still run different member systems despite being under the same brand).
Once this was done, we were able to provide personalised content to each customer, ensuring that they had the latest timetable information for their clubs and could place bookings for classes, as well as allowing them to request changes to their membership such as upgrades, downgrades, and freezing their subscription for a short period of time.
Virgin Active also used the portal to provide additional gym-fit content to their members. Their Grid Active campaign and articles designed around how to use new techniques and equipment in-club to boost your workout provided helpful guidance to those needing to change their routines.
Adding value through the Virgin portfolio
In addition to this, we developed the portal further with content around offers, competitions, discounts and guest passes, and this is where the real value in a Virgin Active membership lay. Each customer that visited the portal was immediately offered free guest passes to allow them to take their friends with them to a health club for the day, or to allow them to sample health clubs in different locations or were part of their exclusive collection.
With their ability to partner with other companies in the Virgin portfolio, as well as brands that want to take advantage of the Virgin ‘effect’, it means that they can continue to create compelling discounts and one-off promotions – such as free entry into the Prudential Ride100 or the London Triathlon.
After launch, it was clear that the portal had the desired effect, as ‘churn’ rates reduced and engagement with the offers and guest pass content increased monthly. In addition to this, it had a secondary effect in moving existing customer traffic away from the main website, meaning that instead of needing to provide content for both members and non-members, the main site could be worked solely as an acquisition channel, rather than needing to accommodate both this and retention in the same space.
Paul Halfpenny, CTO at Filter Digital said “For brands that are seeking to offer customers more than their standard service, member or content portals are often a great investment. The ability to engage customers with additional content that non-members cannot access can increase your stickiness, reduce churn and increase revenue”
The ability to engage customers with additional content that non-members cannot access can increase your stickiness, reduce churn and increase revenue. See our work on Crystal Palace Eagles and D&AD for further examples of what we can do.