HCM drills into the detail of Sport
England’s Moving Communities
initiative with leisure-net’s Mike Hill
What does this mean for the sector?
Moving Communities is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the industry to gather data, insight and intelligence on a sector-wide scale, helping to inform key decisions that will shape the way we operate in the challenging years to come.
This opportunity has come about off the back of evaluation and monitoring for the National Leisure Recovery Fund, but can develop into something important and valuable for the sector.
For the first time this will give us a clear picture, across most local authorities in England, of how leisure centres are performing in terms of finance, participation, the customer experience and the social value they bring to their communities.
Operators will be able to compare their performance against national averages and wider data sets. It’s going to be a step change in terms of the breadth and depth of understanding we have about the active leisure sector.
Will the results impact funding going forward?
The insight that Moving Communities will give us will be a valuable part of “making the case” for future local leisure provision, not only from a national government point of view, but also Sport England’s and individual local authorities’.
It’s not only about how fast customers return and in what numbers, but also who comes back. The last 12 months have exaggerated many existing inequalities in the country and we need to ensure that hard to reach groups – who were often relatively inactive prior to COVID-19 – are not left behind even more, increasing the activity and health gap even further.
Will you compare the types of offering against the results and if so, how will this work?
The Moving Communities initiative will help to provide insight into the sector’s recovery from COVID-19. For example, it will investigate whether certain demographics are coming back to their local centres more than others and establish what best practice looks like and how we can share it.
We know from previous research, carried out by Leisure-net, that people in older age groups and women are generally more concerned about returning, and have more of a focus on cleanliness and other safety protocols, so it’s essential that operators and local authorities find out very quickly, whether their re-opening systems and processes are up to standard and giving returning customers the confidence they need.
As part of this, certain sites will also be undertaking Quest Prime – the new version of Quest – which is offering operators a tool to measure their readiness and standards against national performance levels.
It’s also important to share best practice, so all the findings will be made available nationally on a quarterly basis, through a series of reports and webinars.
Will the data be anonymised, or will it be possible to see the performance of individual facilities?
Local authorities and their operators will be able to see their data and KPIs for their own sites, and compare them against national benchmarks using a series of filters. All data will be anonymised and amalgamated centrally in order to produce these valuable benchmarks and the overall national picture.
How has your research been designed to ensure operators can effect change based on the results?
The Moving Communities Customer Experience Survey will be the largest of its kind ever carried out in the sector. Each local authority and operator will be able to see their results on a site by site basis and compare them with the rest of the sector.
The survey has key questions in it, such as Net Promoter Score, the new Customer Confidence Indicator and Overall Satisfaction, as well as new sets of questions looking at the value that customers feel their local centres deliver in terms of their activity levels and wellbeing, and their future plans for activity.
With the change of activity patterns over the last 12 months, insight into customers’ attitudes and perceptions will be more critical than ever to service providers.
What role will the partners play?
Leisure-net is the lead partner in the consortium, we’ll manage the overall programme, including communications and education/feedback to the sector.
4global is leading on the data collection and reporting elements and building the new Moving Communities platform, while Sheffield Hallam University’s Sports Industry Research Centre is bringing academic rigour to the process and will also be producing the quarterly sector reports.
Management consultancy, Max Associates, is focusing on keeping the initiative aligned with what’s happening on the ground with local authorities and public sector provision. Finally, Right Directions is leading on Quest Prime, the operational/quality check within the process – a key element of the study.