How and why the fitness industry loses revenue from travelers

Our co-founder Kenn wrote about the recent explosive growth of both the travel and fitness industries, and how, contrary to what you might think, the fitness industry hasn’t benefitted from the rise in travelers. In fact, the increase in travel might actually be harming gyms. Find out why and how, and get the solution, in Kenn’s article below.

The travel market has exploded recently, thanks in large part to platforms like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, etc., which make it easier and cheaper for more people than ever to travel. This is obviously a good thing for many industries as increasing amounts of tourism dollars flow around the globe. One industry that hasn’t benefitted as much, however? Fitness.

The fact that more and more people are traveling more and more frequently means that consumers’ demand for convenience and easy, fast service is at an all-time high. The inconveniences associated with working out while traveling are well-known – from substandard hotel gyms to never-ending registration and payment for a day pass, it’s little wonder that many travelers opt to skip the gym while on the road. This can create a vicious cycle: when gym-goers allow their active lifestyle to lapse, even if just for a short period of time, they’re increasingly likely to not renew their gym membership when they get back home, as in just a week you can lose both your fitness level and your gym-going habit. IHRSA estimates gym membership churn at 30%, and over a quarter of lapsed gym members say that they didn’t renew their membership because of inactivity and being unable to keep up with the gym-going habit.

The outcome is that rather than benefitting, gyms now are actually losing money when people travel.

By The Numbers

Let’s look at some numbers:

  • Approximately 1.2 billion people make trips of at least one night away from home every year. The average trip length is 7.3 nights. This results in a global travel market with a net value of around $7600bn every year.

Right off the bat we can see that the travel industry represents huge potential for gyms.

Now let’s do some quick math:

  • Approximately 162 million people have gym memberships. We can conservatively estimate that 50% of these gym users travel, and that 50% of these people want to work out when they do. That gives us a potential user base of 40 million people.
  • If we (again, conservatively) estimate that each of these 40 million people travels 3 times a year and wants to work out while doing so, and that each person is willing and able to spend $8 for each day pass, we’re looking at a total potential revenue of $1bn every year – money that gyms today are losing out on.
A New Opportunity

Some gyms know first-hand the value of the traveler market – our co-founder Kenn recently went to a gym while on vacation in Thailand where over 70% of the gym’s patrons were tourists! It makes sense for gyms like this to have traveler-friendly amenities and services, like easy purchase of day passes and partnerships with nearby hotels, built into their existing business models. For many gyms, however, the traditional membership structure is still going to be their bread and butter.

Most gyms know that travelers are an important demographic and potential revenue source. Realistically, however, most gym operators simply don’t have time to figure out how to attract travelers and to implement an acquisition strategy. With so much of most gyms’ operations and revenue tied to memberships, shifting attention away to focus on one-time visitors can feel like a losing proposition. Marketing to travelers, forging new partnerships, overhauling your payment system and registration database to accommodate day pass sales in addition to membership sales – sounds daunting, right?

It doesn’t have to be. TrainAway is here to do all the legwork for you. It’s simply and easy to sign up to become a TrainAway destination, and from there TrainAway will take care of all those logistics and through the platform help you capture some of that untapped revenue we described earlier.

Other platforms have tried to be the Airbnb or Uber of the fitness industry – and failed by neglecting to provide dual-sided value to both gyms and gym-goers. But at TrainAway we have two goals: to create value in the fitness industry by helping gyms attract new users and income, and to make it easy for fitness users to stay healthy and active even when they travel.

Now that we’ve explained how and why the travel boom today actually creates a problem for gyms, we’ll conclude with two questions:

  • Why, with all the evidence we’ve laid out above, should gyms not become TrainAway destination?
  • And more importantly, can they afford not to?

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