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Do what you can to give people exceptional, memorable experiences that support their health

Jamie Groves

Denbighshire Leisure

As an industry, the pandemic has made us reconsider whether we’re truly driven by customer needs. We should celebrate this unprecedented opportunity to innovate the quality of our offers as it could play a huge part in creating a more meaningful industry – if we embrace it.

The pandemic has forced us all out of its habit of building offers driven by products and supply chain. I think we can all agree this was an outdated practice and certainly one that didn’t serve our customers.

Consumer habits and values have changed. We need to create experiences that reflect what people really want from their leisure providers. And we must show members that everyone in the business has bought into these efforts.

We’ve made a conscious shift from just showing up as a leisure provider to being a true partner for people’s health and wellbeing. A massive amount of our marketing team’s time

PHOTO: DENBIGHSHIRE LEISURE

is now focused on giving value and checking in with members – all the softer stuff we as an industry perhaps neglected before the pandemic.

And by making sure our staff were looked after right through the crisis, we gave members a familiar and highly-motivated workforce to come back to.

We’re anticipating being back at pre-COVID levels of membership by January 2022, but there are more important things than the numbers – it’s about developing industry-leading experiences.

We found that going the extra mile reaps rewards. This can be seen at

Club Nova (above) and X20 are both delivering growing returns

our Club Nova and X20 sites which are giving us the biggest membership growth and from the results of investing in our restaurants and cafés – including setting up partnerships with Costa and other brands – which has created the fastest-growing revenue stream in the company.

Our members are highly engaged and have confidence in our promise to them. We achieve this by making a big commitment to them and to our staff and our messaging.

I appreciate that every operator’s situation is different, but I stand by my belief that this is an exciting opportunity to shift focus and become more customer-led.

We all have the ability to listen to customers and to have those conversations at various touchpoints, to gather better data through social media and online activity.

We can all put efforts into understanding what the public truly want now from fitness and leisure providers. It’s on us to set aside our assumptions and old ways of doing things, and to create offers that meet people where they are now.

For example, outdoor cycling has had a huge spike in interest in our local area, so we invested in creating an exceptional indoor group cycle experience with Technogym Bike, to cater for cyclists over the winter. We’ve also seen a big uptake in indoor cardio, and we’ll be remodelling our gyms to make more provision for strength training and functional kit. And we knew lots of our members had got a bit nervous about going “out out”, so we invested in Clubbercise – lots of these things we wouldn’t have predicted two years ago!

The world has changed, and we need to evolve. It starts by listening and understanding, then doing what you can to give people exceptional, memorable experiences that support their health. ●

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