The Devil's In the Details: Affordable Ways to Revitalize Your Fitness Center

By Bryan Green Founder & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products | May 06, 2012

Getting the most out of your amenity may require a thorough annual review of your existing offering, but typically quick and cost-effective improvements can be achieved with relatively minimal effort.. Facility managers would be wise to understand how to keep a fitness offering fresh and relevant through a focus on the often-overlooked details in and around the equipment itself. This includes the important role of accessories and several ancillary details that go far in providing your guests a consistently satisfactory experience. Often these details are truly the difference between a facility that looks fresh, and a room full of equipment that once upon a time was a priority, only to have rotted away due to neglect. Lack of attention on the fitness front can result in a compounding cost and resource burden as inevitable guest dissatisfaction and complaints can force a more significant upgrade in order to restore desired levels of guest satisfaction. At the end of the day, it's all about the guest and the consistently positive experience across all property services and amenities that keep them coming back to you. So understanding cost-effective measures to stay competitive in the fitness game will assist you in your endeavor to maintain that guest satisfaction so highly sought after. High Contact = High Praise

Different users may have different preferences about the equipment in your facility they use, based upon their exercise interests and intensity of their workouts. However, consumables like disinfectant wipes, workout towels or stretching mats are items that just about every guest will utilize. The last thing you'll want is to have guests grabbing for towels or mats that look weathered and haggard like the local football team used them first. These "high contact" items are critical to guest perception and a key element to focus on in order to keep things fresh and up to guest standards. A monthly or quarterly commitment to rotating consumable items will go a long way and typically requires a minimal budget in the range of $200 to $400 for the average Hotel-based facility. Keep it Clean

Hygiene cannot be underestimated or overlooked in any aspect of a hotel property, whether out by the pool, in the elevators or in the fitness center. If you've had guest feedback regarding the cleanliness of any area of the property, it's safe to assume you'll hear it about your fitness center, an active and physical environment where sweat and germs, to a relative extent, are the norm. Furthermore, the smaller the facility, the greater the negative impact of the sweat and germs that are common within exercise space. So there will be sweat and there will be germs. It is what it is. However, you still need to fight the good fight and provide an effective solution to give your guests confidence that you are doing everything you can to provide a clean and healthy environment for exercise. The availability of pre-saturated wipes, consistent towel service and a diligent commitment to daily thorough cleaning are just a few basic and easy ways to show your guests that you're serious about eliminating and minimizing gym germs. Always "Look" Your Best

With exercise equipment, aesthetics can be deceiving. While a machine may look worn down, it may be functioning perfectly and simply look worn due to the fact that surface materials and upholstery will commonly show wear quicker than the mechanics of the equipment itself. Yet the worn look of an older or sweat soiled seat or pad can really effect guest perception and quickly turn it into a negative one. To this point, the simple act of replacing strength machine upholstery and providing care to other exterior surfaces of equipment can have a profound impact on the perception of the facility. Commonly, annual replacement of upholstery and commercial degreasing care can dramatically provide both a refresh as well as a potential change of color that will allow you to simply keep pace with the ever-changing and dynamic environment fitness facilities foster. In short, another cost-effective way to make a material difference in your offering, typically at a rate of approximately$100 per unit. "Ground Patrol"

If you're still using carpeted floors in your facility, I would strongly suggest considering a change to a rubber-based surface specifically designed for fitness and exercise. Sure this comes with an upfront cost, but you need to consider the long-term cost savings involved with this decision. Carpet has a significantly shorter life span than rubber exercise floor material, and requires more-frequent replacement and the costs associated with doing so will inevitably add up to more than the outlay required for rubber flooring that will last much longer. Equally important is the hygienic benefit. Carpet is a breeding ground for germs in an active fitness and exercise environment. So the switch to rubber flooring brings a significant hygiene benefit that your guests will appreciate. Finally, you want your facility to be a "credible" and high-quality fitness space, and rubber or other floor materials specifically designed for exercise are the fitness standard. So as you can see, there are a variety of reasons why this single change can provide multiple and longer term benefits. Entertaining Exercise

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.