Increase Revenue and Streamline Costs in a Leisure Facility
As specialists in access control, turnstiles and self-service kiosks, we are not often asked to come up with specific ideas to contribute to the bottom line. We are used to customers asking us technical questions. But actually why not? There are very well-known ways to increase profits: Reduce costs, do more with the same or less, Increase revenue. But how? I shall focus in this article on the areas of our expertise which is access control and touchscreen kiosks. This article is designed as a ‘taster’ to hopefully generate ideas:
So, broadly, I shall cover the following issues in this article and how access control and self-service kiosks can improve each one:
1. Sign up more members
2. Reduce ‘churn’/increase retention
3. Increase ad hoc visits
4. Upsell other products and offerings to existing users
5. Ensure that as many people as possible are paying appropriately for the services they use
Sign up more members
Clearly there are many elements which go into why someone will choose one club over another. Cost, location, facilities to name but 3 key reasons. But once you have done the hard work and got potential users to your facility how do you get them to either a) sign up or b) continue using your facility regularly? As already mentioned there are a number of key drivers to get them even to think of signing up but what can you do as a club to make the process of signing up for membership and using the facility as hassle-free and straightforward as possible?
One of the key elements is to make it easy for customers to join or to purchase. These days everyone is used to things happening immediately. Want a book? Click ‘1 Click buy’ and it’s with me tomorrow or even better in just a few minutes on my Kindle. Queues are clearly a big issue for leisure facilities. There are very specific times of day that leisure facilities all know are going to be busy and there are much longer periods where you are not so busy. People are great at dealing with people and issues they might have but for the day-to-day needs of accessing a leisure facility much of it is better done by computer and MOST PEOPLE WOULD PREFER TO BE IN CONTROL THEMSELVES. When I want to swim with my young children I really don’t want to have to queue for 15 minutes at reception. Likewise if I am ready to sign up for a membership I want to do it now not in an hour when a receptionist becomes available to go through the relatively time-consuming process of taking all my details down.
Self-service kiosks – adhoc
At one facility the installation of 3 self-service kiosks for ad hoc visitors clocked 400,000 usages in the first 9 months thus freeing up reception time to deal with customers’ issues, reducing queues and increasing customer satisfaction. A win-win all around.
The self-service kiosk can be as simple or as complex as you need depending on your Leisure management software and your specific requirements. One of the key elements is being able to print or send electronically some means of accessing the facility for the proposed usage be that a swim, class or gym. This can be a barcoded receipt, or a credential (e.g. pin code or QR code) sent to your smartphone. One of the ways is to use waterproof, disposable, colour coded wristband your staff can easily check if someone has overstayed their slot and politely mention to them that their time is now up (or would they like to pay to extend their visit!).
Self-service kiosks – members
Members have similar issues with queuing but in addition they are paying a regular membership so need to be made to feel special. Having a ‘members’ only’ kiosk can assist in this. I want to be able to book classes quickly and easily and, for busy, popular classes, make sure that I can sign up quickly and easily for the next one. Clearly this can be done via an app but the advantage of a self-service kiosk is that you can upsell all sorts of other things that the small form-factor of a smartphone makes more difficult Then you need to make sure that people are turning up to classes they have booked. There are number of technologies that can help with this. A printed receipt to hand it to the class instructor, access control on the studio doors or a tablet that can read the customer credential are popular.
Customer flow – access control
One of the under-estimated elements of access control is customer flow. It is important that this is as efficient as possible and firstly prioritises members for obvious reasons. Often a ‘fast track’ members’ lane is an excellent way of making members feel valued and potentially upselling membership as people in queues see members ‘jumping the queue’. Once again it is important to gather the data both before and after. Turnstiles or Speedlanes are not a cheap option but compared to losing customers, a poor customer experience and/or people accessing the facility unauthorised it can very quickly repay the investment if done correctly. There is no right way to manage flow through the facility as there are often physical restrictions but with some forethought, the right advice and the right equipment this can make a serious difference to your bottom line.
Do’s and Don’t’s
- MY DATA – Remember also that data entered by the user is much more accurate than those entered by someone else. Get the member to sign up themselves and then once they have done the ‘boring’ bit then assign a member of staff to go through the induction process
- AVAILABILITY – Make sure you have at least 2 kiosks, ideally 3 depending on the size of the facility and at least one set aside for member signup
- IN CONTROL – Enable ad hoc visitors to purchase their own tickets and enter the facility themselves and print bar code/colour-coded wristband
- CHECK – You can check the colour of wristbands to ensure people aren’t overstaying their welcome. Do spot checks to ensure people in the gym have paid to be there – if I have paid I want to know everyone else has too.
- DATA – Gather the data – don’t just take our word for it
- JOINED UP – Using RFID chips you can ‘join up’ all your data. Membership, access control/usage, EPOS, performance tracking
Future – NBIOT
Currently the methods to track your users automatically around a facility are expensive and involve a lot of hardware. We are working on a new technology called NBIOT (Narrow Band Internet Of Things) that works over the GSM (mobile phone) network. This will greatly decrease the infrastructure costs of implementing a solution to know what your users are
Getting the processes right for managing customers’ access to your facility is not an easy task but can pay significant dividends when done correctly. The customer wants access to the venue to be easy and wants especially to avoid queues. But also they want to be able to speak to a member of staff when they need to. You can’t do that if you have permanent queues at reception. Free up your static reception staff to interact with customers, perform inductions, offer advice, upsell and generally ensure everyone is getting the most out of your facility. And use technology intelligently to offer a hassle-free, intuitive and streamlined experience of accessing your services. If people feel cared for (and making it easy for them to use your facility is a key element of this) they WILL keep coming back.