IHRSA Member Retention Report examines how clubs can avoid 45% of cancellations

The Findings: Better Member Communication is the Key

Boston, MA -- November 6, 2014 -- Today, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced the release of the IHRSA Member Retention Report (Volume 2, Issue 3). Conducted in partnership with The Retention People (TRP), this edition explores how members value different types of communication, including in-person, phone, social media, text and email. The impact of various media on retention is also explored. Based on findings from TRP research, the report shows that face-to-face interactions with reception and fitness staff may have the greatest impact on retention.

“The most recent installment of the IHRSA Member Retention Report will help club operators fine-tune their strategy for communicating with members,” says Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products. “Although the preferred communication media varies by gender and age, interaction with club staff plays a key role in keeping members. Combined with a targeted online communication plan, in-person communication help members feel at home in their club and look forward to frequent visits.”

Based on the responses from 10,000 health club members in the U.K., nearly nine out of ten members value interactions with fitness staff (87%), but less than half receive it (43%). Longer tenured members, those who have been with a club for more than three years, are more likely to report greater engagement with  fitness and reception staff  than new members, who have been with the club for less than a year. While this report confirms that face-to-face communication is the most valuable, it also highlights the importance of communication members receive outside of the club walls. Nearly two-thirds of members value receiving emails (65%), while more than one-third value receiving social media updates (34%). 

According to the report, club operators may help boost retention rates by incentivizing staff to interact frequently with members. Through staff interactions and periodic member surveys, club managers may also learn what other types of communication members value. Managers can then target communication specific to member preferences. 

“Communication is only as effective as the action that it creates,” says Claire Holmes, TRP’s General Manager for North America. “This report highlights how critical it is to understand and deliver the type of communication that will influence each individual member’s behavior. It’s also a clear indicator that email, text and social media have a significant part to play in engaging certain member demographics, alongside in-club interactions.”

Read the full IHRSA Member Retention Report to find out more on how your communication strategy can play a huge part in supporting member retention initiatives. The IHRSA Member Retention Report, which examines a different aspect of retention in each installment, is available free to IHRSA members at ihrsa.org/research. Member login is required to download. Non-members can purchase the report for $29.95 at ihrsa.org/store. The IHRSA Member Retention Report expands on insight provided in the IHRSA Guide to Member Retention, also available at ihrsa.org/store.


The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and fitness promotion. Additional fitness industry research can be found at ihrsa.org/research. Find a quality IHRSA club at healthclubs.com.

About The Retention People

The Retention People (TRP) are leading researchers in health club member retention. TRP uses research to drive the development of effective retention solutions.  These include digital products, retention processes and training packages that improve the member experience.  TRP works with club operators worldwide to create promoters of fitness brands and increase member loyalty.

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