Communication tips for leisure centre’s preparing for reopening

Following a largely successful series of “showroom sites”, many are hopeful that an official reopen date will be confirmed for fitness and leisure centre's very soon. But for reopening to be successful, effective communication with customers and members is essential. With this in mind, we have collated some campaign ideas to create a buzz around reopening, and support business communications regarding guideline adherence.

8 July 2020

The government confirmed during May, that as leisure and fitness centres were considered ‘close proximity’, they would not be able to open in line with other businesses on 4th July 2020. This came as a large blow to the UK Sports Industry, which is worth £23.8 billion and facilitates nearly 1 million jobs. However, following a largely successful series of “showroom sites” whereby ukactive hosted a delegation of government and public health officials on a number of visits to leisure centres and gyms, many are hopeful that an official reopen date will be confirmed very soon. 

With this in mind, many fitness and leisure centres have already been hard at work, implementing new measures to enable them to adhere to safety guidelines once reopened. For example, deep cleaning of premises and equipment, rearranging layouts to enable social distancing and installing signs and floor markings to promote one-way systems. While preparations are largely unique to each premises, the one thing that is universal to all, for reopening to be successful, effective communication with customers and members is essential. With this in mind, we have collated some campaign ideas to create a buzz around reopening, and support business communications regarding guideline adherence. 

Create an authentic buzz around reopening

Arguably one of the most important campaigns your leisure or fitness centre will send, is the announcement regarding your reopening date. As reopening is all about welcoming your members and customers back, organisations need to ensure that this campaign is received and read by as many as possible – especially, in cases where membership freezes were introduced. Given that Hubspot recently reported that the number of emails being sent has increased by 44% since lockdown measures were implemented, utilising SMS can help ensure your messages aren’t lost among the noise. What’s more, text messages benefit from an open rate of 95%, and are sent direct to people’s mobiles, which on average they pick up 58 times a day.  

Additionally, with 160 characters you can include a booking link, or even details to any exciting events plans you have around reopening. These small steps can go a long way to building a buzz around your reopening, and ensuring customers not only know they can return, but that they are excited to do so. 

Reassure customers and members of safety measures

Though PwC’s Consumer Sentiment Survey does give cause for optimism, as it suggests that consumers are eagerly waiting for the reopening of leisure businesses, it’s important to remember that the pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty. To ensure individuals feel comfortable returning to your leisure centre, it’s worthwhile highlighting the measures implemented to ensure staff and customer welfare. Particularly, if your customer base largely consists of families. 

Moreover, as customers will need to follow new protocols in order to maintain government guidelines, communicating these to customers prior to their visit, enables businesses to manage customer expectations appropriately. Additionally, by ensuring customers know what is expected of them, it will be easier for staff to manage adherence to guidelines during opening hours.

Prioritise marketing efforts

Given that many individuals and families have introduced more exercise into their daily lives during lockdown, it makes sense to keep this momentum going. According to a survey conducted by Sport England, 27% of people who are not currently members of a gym, said that they are likely to join once fitness centres begin to open again. Furthermore, Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader of industry at PwC said – “For the moment, consumers still have money to spend and are missing their favourite activities.”

Thus, with summer just around the corner and many individuals looking to remain in the UK, prioritising marketing efforts around the activities available within your leisure centre could prove very worthwhile. 

Ask customers for feedback

As many organisations will need to look at reopening with a reduced variety of activities, to enable smarter business decisions, it makes sense to simply ask customers for feedback. By asking customers which activities they miss the most, organisations can make an informed decision about which activities to prioritise for reopening. Additionally, if businesses are considering changes to opening hours, or timetables, by collating feedback you can gauge what hours are likely to be most popular with customers and members. 

What’s more, with reduced face-to-face interactions and customer retention likely to be more important than ever before, a customer satisfaction survey could go a long way towards highlighting potential areas for improvement. As SMS benefits from an average conversion rate of 32%, (even more impressive considering the average for email is just 3%), an SMS customer feedback survey could prove invaluable to your business.

Time-sensitive messages

Many leisure and fitness centres will need to implement strict booking procedures to ensure they maintain reduced capacity and social distancing on their premises. As such, a simple SMS reminder could go a long way to making sure customers arrive on time and are able to make the most of their allocated slot. Moreover, as 90% of all SMS messages are read within 3 minutes, if you need to send any urgent updates, for instance, a temporary closure to changing rooms, you can be sure your message is delivered and read almost immediately. By providing simple, timely updates, you ensure transparent communication is maintained with customers. And this will be essential as trade returns and settles during recovery. 

Effective communication will be key to successful back-to-business strategies over the coming months. If you need any help getting your communication campaigns ready, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly team at [email protected], they’ll be happy to help.

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