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fitn ess boutiqu es

The Studio is a standalone business with its own management team Furthermore, the market for largescale fitness resorts was shrinking, so we knew we needed a new business model to continue growing. The decision was made to pursue a ‘proof of concept’ for a boutique studio, with a view to opening additional boutiques in the future. What was your approach to branding and managing the studio? From the beginning, we understood that the studio and our existing clubs were two different businesses. As a result, we appointed a team to have responsibility for, and authority over, the introduction and delivery of The Studio brand. The management team for The Studio is only involved in operating The

The Studio’s mind-body classes command a premium price

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Studio, although as a vice president of the company I do stay abreast of what’s happening on the club side. In addition, we realised we had to brand The Studio separately from the other clubs if we wanted to communicate its unique experience and foster a community around the brand. However, we also understood there was cachet in our name, and as a result wanted to bring that credibility forward. The decision was made to call it The Studio by Leisure Sports. What are the key differences between operating a chain of premium clubs and a boutique studio? We’ve found there to be several differences, including the fact that the boutique requires a more vigilant approach to ongoing refinement across the various touchpoints of the experience. Every interaction between staff and member is heightened in the boutique, and consequently greater attention has to be given to understanding each interaction and elevating the game. The level of training for the staff has been considerably more extensive than in our traditional properties too. As the interactions between staff and members are more intimate, it requires everyone to understand what’s required across every touchpoint of the experience.

The success of the boutique is far more dependent on fostering a strong community than a traditional club. A studio is a community. Social media is king. Having a strong social media presence that’s built around connecting the community (members) is very different from the way you approach marketing for a traditional club. Pricing is also very different. We underpriced our offering out of the box. We made pricing assumptions based on our club experience rather than fully understanding the pricing dynamics of the studio market. Tell us more about the marketing In the studio segment, word-of-mouth and social media are the name of the game – not direct mail, not email blasts, not print ads. At the moment, our number one source of new clients and members is from member referral. Furthermore, the ability to leverage social media to build community reinforces the word-of-mouth and fosters heightened interest in the brand. What advice would you offer traditional club operators considering opening a boutique fitness studio? Make building a community your number one priority. Second to this is fostering a highly attractive, inspirational experience.

Interactions between staff and members are more intimate, so everyone has to understand what’s required across every touchpoint of the experience – Erin Gilmour

healthclubmanagement.co.uk September 2016 ©Cybertrek 2016

Profile for Leisure Media

HealthClubManagement September 2016  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.

HealthClubManagement September 2016  

Health Club Management is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.