02 Jul 2022 Spa Business Handbook
 

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Spa Business Handbook - The expansive world of membership

Industry insights

The expansive world of membership


The definition of memberships, and businesses now offering them, is expanding. Lindsay Madden-Nadeau reports

Memberships are evolving to meet the demands of questing consumers ORION PRODUCTION/shutterstock
A membership model can be tailor made for any venue fizkes/shutterstock
Savvy operators are making the most of the flexibility of online memberships Olesya Kuznetsova/shutterstock
Residential communities are set for a makeover Photographee.eu/shutterstock
There is renewed interest in living well when retired NDAB Creativity/shutterstock

We see interesting spa and wellness concepts popping up around the globe all the time, catering to different age groups and social interests. Some of the most compelling involve evolutions of the membership-based business model.

These days, the membership model is no longer just for elite private clubs in big cities with high price tags – any operator offering a purpose-built property which has an active social space that’s accessible, affordable and approachable, can forge a new model where social and wellness merge with a wide range of other offerings to create more diverse and captivating options. The world of wellness is constantly evolving due to the questing nature of today’s consumers and this trend looks likely to accelerate, as consumers’ demands become increasingly sophisticated, due to the abundance of knowledge they have at their fingertips.

Social memberships
Meraki Bespoke Wellness Strategies has been working on a business model for a new ‘social club’ that necessitated research in and around. Typically, when we think about memberships, we consider things such as gym and fitness clubs, spa memberships or private country clubs for the elite, however, memberships are evolving and these days, operators are creating offers which make their business a one-stop shop for all.

In these scenarios, wellness merges with healthcare, social, fitness, online fitness and spa, to create an all-encompassing offer emphasising the community-inspired concept of living a healthy, balanced life and living well.

This merger of options allows people to live and work smarter, while also meeting other people with common interests.

Growing your online membership
Online memberships also matter and are growing exponentially. In March 2020, software specialist Mindbody Online saw a 230 per cent increase in the number of people who joined its online classes from one day to the next. This trend has continued, with almost 23 per cent more people working out than previous figures and statistics suggest.

This is partly due to the added convenience of tuning in to online workouts and partly due to the opportunity to connect with their favourite instructor – who may be on the other side of the world.

People are using online memberships more than ever and from fitness clubs to wellness programmes, innovators are finding ways to keep users connected, even when they have left the physical space, by using technology in a new and accessible way.

Consumer trends are showing an average of 10-15 per cent growth in eCommerce in 2021 and whether it relates to retail, sport, medical or education, the world is now online and any new customer-facing offering these days is not complete without an online component.

If you haven’t included this in your strategy, then you’re behind the trends already – imagine how well you could do if you harness the power of membership and the power of online.

How can hotels adapt this trend?
Within the hospitality sector, we’re suggesting the creation of an ‘added value’ option to help drive incremental revenue. Where operators move existing spa and fitness membership packages to one which is lifestyle-based, to enhance the overall positioning of the membership.

Traditional gym memberships tend to be inclusive of discount offers throughout the hotel, while spa memberships are often not, so this means that shifting customers to being members of the hotel rather than the spa makes them feel as though they’re part of something much bigger, while enhancing the visibility of the spa and wellness operation and the value of the membership.

Growth in incremental revenue is also then more likely to occur, as operators have access to a much broader audience and positioning.

The market for residential living
The model can also be applied in residential developments and with the popularity of branded residential units on the rise – some schemes grew 170 per cent during 2020 – extended wellness or club-like activities are now a standard expectation from consumers.

Having a solid offer which is customised for your customer type only adds value to branded residences, while strong partnerships can really generate growth for all the parties involved.

Elevating retirement homes
The anthropologist Ashley Montagu said, ‘the idea is to die young, as late as possible’, and this quote casts a meaningful light on the way retirement communities are being built when it comes to wellbeing.

With awareness of the growth in loneliness, isolation and lack of social engagement that was experienced by so many during the pandemic, more people are shifting their perspectives in terms of their future life choices and asking where they’d like to live in their older age.

As a result, we’re seeing a growing demand for social community schemes – based on ‘membership’ – where cafés, restaurants, activities, cinema, fitness, spa, wellness and beauty are all offered within independent living spaces and where care and support are also available – emphasising the growing trend for social wellbeing. Why would that not be appealing and compelling to an ageing population?

About the author:

Lindsay Madden-Nadeau is a global spa and wellness consultant and the founder of Meraki Bespoke Wellness Strategies, as well as vice chair of Wellness Tourism Initiative on wellness tourism destination at the Global Wellness Institute.


Originally published in Spa Business Handbook 2022 edition

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