• Austen Moore

Why the Fitness Industry should stop marketing 1 Day Guest Passes.

I've written about 1 Day Guest Passes for Health Clubs and Gyms several times before. Each time I write about them it isn't particularly favourable.

The problem though is that either not enough people read my Blog at Signpost Media on this subject (or at all) or I'm not getting the message across in the right way which is my responsibility. Either of the above isn't great news. I will try again though as I feel it is my duty to try and offer help and advice to all owners and operators of Health and Fitness Clubs and Gyms. Especially when the advice is going to make a positive impact on your business in 5 ways.

1. Increase the uptake of Guest Passes

2. Increase the conversion rate from Passes Requested to Passes Used

3. Improve conversion rates from Used Passes to Joined Members

4. Increase Retention

5. Reduce Expenditure and Increase Revenue

To continue any further we need to first identify the objections to having a Guest Pass that is longer than 1 day, as it's common to hear several reasons why it shouldn't be longer. Rather than go through a list of the objections I will go through the number one reason that I hear, and the rest will fall into place from there as they are all fairly well connected to this.

When a 3 to 5-day guest pass is suggested, the number one rejection I hear is that it will cost the Health Club more money to offer extra days. So, let’s get this out the way now as this is just 100% incorrect and this is why.

You have certain fixed costs that can't be avoided relating to offering guest passes and some of these are as follows.

1. Cost of implementing a Referral Scheme or similar at the outset

2. Marketing such as Referral Posters, Digital Media, Print, Advertising and so forth

3. Staffing such as providing a member of staff for the duration of the 1st visit

The important thing is that these 3 costs will always be there, and they won't increase based on offering a further 3-4 days. You only need to fill the forms in once, such as Par'Q, and you only have to show them the equipment or provide a short programme to follow on the 1st day. Their bum wearing out a bike seat for a few more minutes each day is hardly worth worrying about. A little water and electric is irrelevant as this could be more than offset against what they may spend in the Cafe if you have one. Or against the fact that they have a higher chance of joining the club ultimately.

So that’s the number one objection addressed, let’s look at my Original points 1-5 and go through the supportive evidence that backs these up.

1. Increase the uptake of Guest Passes

Unfortunately, many of us are pessimistic. We also aren't as naive as you may think. We know a 1-day pass isn't going to be 1 day, it's a visit. Plus, how many people have a whole day spare to hang about in the gym. If they have then they are probably not in need of persuasion in the first place. With our system which is Social Referral Online I have access to thousands of guest pass stats that are sent out along with feedback on how many are requested and then used. Every time a club chooses to go with a 1 day pass the uptake is lousy. Why?

Because people talk themselves out of it as the offer of a 1-day pass/visit is actually going to entail the following and they know it. Go all the way to the gym to fill out forms and then spend an hour being shown equipment with someone. Hardly really get an experience that is pleasant and then have someone try and sign me up for a year. This sounds negative and is, because it is pretty much the reality and quite a few people have been exposed to it once or twice and don't wish to go there again.

To overcome this just offer 3-5 days. Simple as that. You will then get more people requesting a guest pass.

2. Increase the conversion rate from Passes Requested to Passes Used

You need more people to come in and use the pass that they actually downloaded or signed up for. The above in point 1 applies directly to this stage as well, so we can map that across. So follow point 1 and you'll already be on course to increase this part without having to do any further effort.

3. Improve conversion rates from Used Passes to Joined Members

This is the part that every club is hoping to get right. You spent all the money getting them to the Gym and now you need them to join after having the trial. If they don't join now, then the moment is lost along with all the cost in getting them to this point.

Let me ask you a question, which I'm then going to propose an answer to myself. Why do companies like Netflix offer a month’s trial instead of a day or two, or maybe a couple of movies? Surely they must be concerned that people will just watch it for a month and then not bother signing up?

No, not at all. They would be more concerned about this if they offer a lesser trial and so they should be. Because they know that all of the above I've mentioned applies to them as well. They know that people need to build a pattern into their lives. This is the Psychology part. They want you to develop a pattern of behaviour if you may, a gradual change, that soon becomes part of what you do. You'll then just keep doing it. To get me and you to sign up for Netflix it needs to become part of the routine and that happens over the month that I can use Netflix as much as I like. The barrier to sign up is almost non-existent as it's now what I do.

Health Clubs and Gyms are no different. I'm not going to build up a pattern or feel comfortable within an hour on a guest pass. Those you sign up like this were probably going to join anyway or your lucky and they just can't say no, until they appear on your cancellation list.

If going from a non-exerciser to a full time committed exerciser were that easy, then we'd have 12.8% not taking part in Health and Fitness and 87.2% taking part. The pyramid would flip upside as we know it.

So, give me 5 days on the guest pass and you increase the chances of me getting a better experience in the Club, building up a pattern and wanting to join.

4. Increase Retention

This is super short. I've taken this from my previous Blog Post-

"Take a look on the Internet and you will find a study conducted by the Goethe University Frankfurt and the University of Pennsylvania, on referral programs and customer value. In summary, the study found that referred customers were more profitable and loyal than normal customers. Referred customers had a higher contribution margin, a higher retention rate and were more valuable in both the short and long run."

So your current members want to refer friends so the best way is letting them try out your Health Club. And the above supports what we all know.

5. Reduce Expenditure and Increase Revenue

So, if you continue to offer 1 day passes the results will not be as effective. The acquisition cost is going to be higher as you will need to get more through the door due to reduced uptake, usage and conversion to membership.

So, it costs less by offering a longer pass length and the conversion rate is also higher which will increase revenue.


If all the above is correct why would we still offer a 1 Day Pass? That’s simple and can be summed up in the following-

People don't like change, we offered a 1-day pass years ago and we just keep doing it. It does get a result so most don't focus on the horizon they just look at the bottom line, with a fear of doing something outside of what has been done for ages.

So, if you wish to get what you've always got then keep doing the same thing and you will. But like the words in the book "Good to Great" by Jim Collins says, "Good is the enemy of great".

#ReferralMarketing #socialreferralonline #SignpostMedia #1DayGuestPass #HealthClubMarketing #FitnessMarketing #Fitness1DayGuestPass

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