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Maximizing the Revenue Potential of Your Fitness Center

As featured in Multi-Housing News
By Bryan Green, President, Advantage Fitness Products

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So often, hotel and resort managers view fitness centers and related services as solely “value-added” amenities, provided to reinforce a positive guest experience. Granted, this is without question, a valuable role. However, during difficult economic times such as the ones we are currently experiencing, it’s a perspective that ignores the wealth of profit-generating potential inherent in the fitness offering. Many hotels and resorts are failing to take advantage of this opportunity by not maximizing the revenue potential of their fitness centers.

I spend a great deal of time working with clients to illuminate the various revenue-generating strategies that can be brought to bear with any fitness center, whether they be through retail offerings, training programs or other unique platforms. That being said, I think it’s valuable to break some of these down and demonstrate just how a fitness center can go beyond merely pumping up your guests, and pump up your bottom line:

Fitness Retail

One of the opportunistic attributes about a focus in health & fitness is that it carries a unique and built-in merchandise demand. From workout apparel to bottled water, to headphones and yoga mats. A moderate inventory investment in fitness related products and accessories can be turned into easy sales and high-margin revenue.

It’s not uncommon to have fitness-minded guests who forget to pack workout clothes, headphones for their iPods, or their favorite workout accessories (i.e., yoga mat, water bottle, etc.). Others may prefer to gain a workout within the privacy and peace of their own room or suite. This is more common than one might think with the growing popularity of yoga, mat and resistance-band based exercise modalities. The increase in female business travelers has also added to this trend as they prefer the privacy of their rooms over a public facility. An in-room fitness workout is often a quick, safe, and potentially less intimidating way to stay fit while on the road for many travelers.

With the increase in entertainment-based fitness equipment featuring viewing screens or digital music technology; rentable headsets, I-pods and other electronic devices or accessories can provide an additional revenue source. Finally, every fitness environment also carries a sustainable demand for healthy refreshments and snacks.

Personal & Group Training Programs

When traveling on vacation, guests are typically looking for and willing to pay for, something more than they experience day-to-day at home. Better restaurants, better activities and thrills, better clothes and toys. This impulsive mindset is often applicable to the fitness-oriented traveler. Customized personal training and group exercise services are an excellent way to enable your guests to ‘pamper’ themselves while within your resort hotel environment or full-service property.

Establishing such programs within your facility can generate considerable revenue through your fitness center. Obviously this carries a need for qualified trainers, but that doesn’t mean you have to hire a full time training staff. There are independent training companies in every market that can provide ample qualified training staff to accommodate the needs of your fitness center’s unique programs, whether for personal or group training. For a larger facility or those attached to spa offerings, several companies provide a 3rd party managed solution that often can be supported with as little as a shared revenue agreement.

Personal training is always attractive for those guests who want individual attention they may not pay for at home. It’s the idea of being “pampered,” even when they’re breaking a sweat. Another aspect common to vacation travel is the preponderance of group activities. Whether its scenic tour groups, group fishing or diving exhibitions, group arts and crafts, travelers come prepared to engage in such group activities. A fitness center can capitalize on this with its own group exercise programming. Many facilities are seeing wonderful returns for group training in the hottest fitness trends such as yoga, outdoor “boot-camps”, and other mixed fitness or fusion classes.

Specialized Equipment and Services

In addition to the consideration for establishing a retail component as well as managed fitness programs, there exist a handful of specialized services that can command incremental revenue. One example would be the emergence of high-tech products. A current example is the rapid growth in popularity of vibration training products. Vibration training products like those from brands such as Power Plate, Vibraflex, Itonic or others in this rapidly-emerging new category offer the ability to train the entire body in a fraction of the time as conventional methods. Furthermore, they represent arguably the most low-impact, yet effective form of training. This opens the door to travelers who don’t want to devote much time to exercise, elderly travelers for whom higher impact training isn’t an option, and die-hard fitness enthusiasts who want to try the latest innovations in high-tech fitness. Fitness centers and Spas can incorporate the use of such high-tech devices with the supervision of a trainer or certified clinician and the investment in such commercial cardio equipment. However, the economic returns can be substantial with the proper program promotion and revenue model. Additionally, there are other services like body-fat analysis, heart-rate monitoring and diet/nutrition analysis that can be valuable for those travelers who use their vacations as a benchmark to kick off new commitments to better health and more-active lifestyles.

Management

Spa directors that oversee a facility’s fitness services or fitness center managers likely have enough on their hands to keep them thoroughly busy. So a legitimate question may be, “how can my property implement and manage all of this effectively?” A relationship with a service provider such as WTS International and Aquila, LTD enables hotel and resort properties to outsource this function while sharing in the revenue generated by the incremental services. Companies such as these have the expertise to implement and manage the full spectrum of revenue-generating services both domestically and abroad. This means they can manage everything, including maintaining adequate merchandise inventory, developing and managing personal and group training, maintaining and servicing equipment, and just about any other aspect of your fitness center design.

Conclusion

A successful fitness center is a living and evolving environment that, if properly managed, can help impact your business in both guest satisfaction and profitability. Typically, hotels and resorts that successfully leverage fitness to support their core hospitality business see a fitness center as more than a one-time, stagnant installation. Contemporary standards of safety and hygiene, guest’s ever-changing expectations in terms of amenities and unique services, and keeping up with state-of-the-art fitness modalities and technologies, all play a vital role in terms of your business focus regarding fitness. Considering the work and effort that goes into creating and maintain a successful fitness center, it makes sense to ensure that the revenue and profit potential of your facility is maximized. Hopefully, this article has provided some useful ideas that, if implemented, can drive incremental revenue from your ongoing investment in fitness.

Bryan Green is President and CEO of Advantage Fitness Products, a company dedicated to the planning, design, supply, and ongoing care of specialized fitness and wellness environments world-wide. For information regarding Advantage Fitness Products visit http://www.AFProducts.com or call 310-559-9949.