Learn how to offer more membership programs, navigate fewer cash flow valleys and increase overall revenue in FECs.

There are new fitness and entertainment facilities cropping up all over, and it seems the idea is to continuously go bigger. My husband and I were discussing a new rock climbing venue that is taking over a large shopping complex across the street from my current gym. We contemplated how each was going to stay competitive and maintain a loyal member base.

In many ways, the days of row upon row of treadmills and ellipticals, a room of weights and a small studio for basic aerobics classes seem to be behind us, and more fitness facilities are catering to a consumer seeking a more experiential approach to fitness. This kind of experience-rich venue makes people want to visit because they receive additional benefits like childcare facilities, smoothie bars, towel service, even tanning—making them a home away from home for many members. This is a smart way to tap into the market willing to pay more for a richer experience.

The family entertainment center (FEC) industry is no stranger to the idea that a better experience builds loyalty, but what the fitness industry has always done well is offering flexible membership plans. Whether it’s a one-time purchased membership (or season pass), an ongoing monthly membership with no cancelation date, or even tiered add-on attractions or benefit packages, the flexibility offered appeals to many types of consumers.

Offering flexible membership program options in an entertainment venue is a terrific way to make more programs available to a wider guest base. If you’ve been brainstorming creative ways to offer your programs and memberships, consider how some of these advantages can help you decide how to market and sell your programs to the right patrons.

No. 1: Remove barriers to entry.

In no way am I telling you the objective for creating membership programs for your FEC should be to become the cheapest option in your market. Remember, if you offer the best experience, right attractions, and superior service, you could certainly make a case for being the most expensive offering in town. And while your one-time purchase season passes may immediately appeal to guests who see the long-term value, more budget-conscious guests may hesitate to pay a larger initial fee for a membership if they’re unconvinced they’ll visit enough times to “make it worth it.” Sway these value-conscious guests with lower monthly costs and enhanced value propositions in your membership packages.

Instead of, for example, charging a one-time fee for an annual season pass of $199, perhaps you build an ongoing monthly membership of $19.99 per month with an initial one-year term, and then reverts to month to month after twelve months. Over the long term, you’d make more money per member, and likely convert more guests to your higher tiered membership programs.

You could even add in additional benefits, like special discounts or pricing on food and beverage, parking or merchandise and boost revenue, even more, each visit.

No. 2: Get more ancillary spending each visit.

Just like when guests pay for attractions in advance or with a gift card, offering them a lower initial entry point with an ongoing payment often means that they’ll have more disposable money on their actual visits. This can equate to additional revenue in concessions, add-on attractions, and merchandise, increasing per cap spending overall.

No. 3: Recurring revenue is a bird in the hand.

Having a solid amount of recurring revenue helps you know that you’re going to be able to pay the electric bill and overhead expenses, and it’s the known revenue that you can count on without worrying if the beautiful spring weather is going to crush your weekend business this Saturday or if you should run outside and do a rain dance to make sure you’ve got guests in the building.

This helps you manage the seasonal peaks and valleys better in your FEC, making it more feasible to spend money in the offseason for additional marketing or facility upgrades and enhancements. Having that recurring revenue allows you some breathing room so that you can take more risks where you might not want to otherwise. Plus, even in slower times, you’ll still tend to pull repeat guests in because they’ve already committed to your business.

No. 4: Build strong ties to your community.

It’s obvious that the more people who can afford to and therefore get connected to your park, the stronger your ties to your local community. This makes you more top of mind for other entertainment options as well. Children who participate in your camps later have birthday parties, and parents who attend your fitness classes think of your facility when they’re the scout leader and need to plan a troop event. Members see your park as their go-to place to spend Saturday afternoons, and so on.

No. 5: Automatic renewals save you time (and effort).

With membership programs that automatically bill and renew, you won’t need to spend as much administrative time trying to sell another product or following up on payments, letting you focus your attention on new ideas and improving your existing offerings without worrying about keeping your current level of program participation.

There are many ways recurring billing can help your FEC run more smoothly and offer more flexibility for guests, so you can meet them on the same side of the table and allow them to participate in more membership programs than ever – all while making accounting easier and boosting revenue.

Have questions about making recurring billing part of your operation? Contact us at info@centeredgesoftware.com.

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