When you hear the term AI (artificial intelligence), what does it conjure up in your mind? Do you imagine it to be something futuristic, powering robots, self-driving cars and so on?
You certainly wouldn’t be alone in this view, but to pigeonhole AI as something for the future is to miss out on the very real opportunities it presents gym operators and fitness providers today.
Indeed, as gyms re-opens from lockdown and we all seek out new and innovative ways to re-engage customers, AI should be on everyone’s agenda.
“When you look at the new entrants to our sector, you can be assured of this,” says Ian Mullane, founder of AI-powered sales and retention platform Keepme. “Whether they’re existing tech players like Apple or the likes of Peloton, AI is at the heart of their product development, customer experience and business operations.
“It can, and should, be at the heart of yours too.
AI is here
AI is, after all, a significant force in our lives already: from deciding what we need to see in our news feed, to suggesting an artist we may want to play, to giving us to-the-minute arrival times in navigation apps, it touches us in myriad different ways every day.
So, what does this mean in a fitness context? Delegates at this year’s online canfitpro Global Conference & Tradeshow will find out, as Ian speaks on the topic of his recent white paper – The Fitness Future: Rules of Engagement – in what promises to be a fascinating keynote.
“Our industry is forever changed,” he states in the conclusion to that white paper. “Digital transformation has accelerated. New competitors with innovative products are vying for the same discretionary fitness spend. Now is the time to establish our position within the new reality.
“Key to this is acknowledging that requirements are changing, and that technology already exists to enable us to deliver a more personalized product, consistently and at scale.”
Among that technology is, of course, machine learning and AI – artificial intelligence.
Personalize the journey
“The starting point is data,” says Ian, “but please don’t allow this statement to set alarm bells ringing.
“You may have been told that AI isn’t something our sector will be able to take advantage of due to shortcomings in operators’ data. However, we’ve spoken with more than 100 club operators around the world over the last 18 months, and without exception the data they needed to transform their businesses – from personalization of the member journey, to increased secondary spend, to better targeted products and services – was already there.
“By applying powerful AI and machine learning tools to this customer data, we can unveil a level of insight that, in many cases, makes it blindingly obvious where improvements can be made and opportunities taken.”
He continues: “For example, we have the capability to understand exactly where the customer is in their journey, as well as what engagement is most likely to be well received at that particular time.
“How so? Feed a basic set of standard member data into an AI model and it generates millions of decision trees to predict many outcomes. No single decision tree is statistically significant, but when combined, you’re presented with a highly accurate prediction of likely member behavior.
“In turn, this real-time indicator of retention probability – accurate at any point of the customer relationship, whether they’re in week three of a 12-month contract or on day 23 of a monthly pay-as-you-go agreement – means a user journey can be crafted appropriately, with personalized engagement.
“Crucially, it allows you to engage members in a time window where you can still change the outcome.”
“Your AI will also be capable of looking at your membership base and optimizing your non-dues spend,” adds Ian.
“Say you offer personal training for purchase as individual sessions, or in packs of five or 10. Your AI can first identify the customers who will purchase from you, then segment them further into those most likely to purchase each of the packs.
“Andrew would buy a five-pack, but he’s just as likely to purchase a 10-pack, so serve him that offer. Kate, meanwhile, is highly unlikely to want anything but a single session, so don’t scare her off with a five-pack offer. Bank the one-session sale.
“By serving the correct offer to the correct individual, you don’t just drive revenue from your customer base. You do so without leaving revenue on the table.
“The potential is massive – one Keepme customer increased non-dues revenue by 43 percent in six months – and the use case highly flexible to encompass many different areas.”
Tailor your product for retention
Neither should the impact of AI on operations be underestimated. “Consider this as a deliverable example,” says Ian. “Your AI sees member and class attendance and the schedules you have in place. It also understands the drivers behind your member retention performance in quite literally a million different ways.
“You ask your AI to optimize your class timetable for member retention. It takes into account every variable and generates new timetables. With each variation, it also provides you with the expected retention improvement from implementation, allowing you to optimize the schedules for member satisfaction.”
The time is now
And these are just a few examples. “The possibilities to streamline and add value to a gym business using AI are, in fact, almost unlimited,” confirms Ian.
“AI leverages your data to unlock new insights, which in turn allows you to take informed action to boost customer engagement and satisfaction. It increases transparency and reduces the guesswork in likely outcomes.
“It also helps you attract and recruit the right members in the first place – individuals who, matching your optimal member profile, are more likely to stay with you and drive a higher lifetime value.”
And the crucial takeaway here? “All of these opportunities exist, now.”
Don’t miss out on this fascinating keynote. Register for our Global Conference & Tradeshow now!