Business is going to be like the Wild West for the next few years, with opportunities emerging, investors vying to back a ‘sure thing’, an inevitable percentage of business failures and competition coming from every direction. This much is clear from the frenzy of activity happening in the market since lockdowns started to ease around the world.
The pandemic is also re-shaping all sectors of the leisure market, making change inevitable when it comes to competition coming from new directions.
Although a big focus has been on how home fitness and digital will impact brick and mortar operations, this debate is now turning back to the reshaping of the facilities market.
The hospitality industry has been a sleeping giant in terms of its potential to harness the growth of health, fitness, activity and wellness, but the pandemic has woken it from its slumber.
The global tourism sector lost a billion trips in 2020 according to the World Tourism Organization and hotel strategists are turning their gaze to the health and fitness sector in their quest for alternative income streams from reliable, repeat customers.
We’re seeing hotel operators refurbishing their gyms or opening new ones and pointing their marketing firepower at local audiences to sign up consumers as members, bringing them head to head with gym operators.
There’s also an emerging trend within the hospitality sector of hotels changing to be full-service private members’ clubs and this will create new competition for gyms in urban locations.
The resorts sector is eyeing the fitness market too and in this issue, we talk to Stelian Iacob, CEO of Therme Group (page 16), which is doing a global roll-out of its health and wellness day resort concept, with eyes on Asia Pacific, North America and mainland Europe.
Therme is currently on-site in Manchester UK, building a 100,000sq m resort that will accommodate 7,500 people a day. This may sound ambitious, but three more are planned for the UK alone.
Therme is a broad offering, with pools and spa and wellness facilities, as well as a programme of exercise options, fitness classes, yoga and Pilates, starting at £14/day.
The company has traded well through the crisis at its existing sites and says the model is pandemic-proof.
So with all this change happening, consumers will have an increasingly wide range of choices when it comes to what they join and where and how they spend their money.
We can expect these new businesses to invest in, join and enrich our sector, as well as representing new competition. Existing health and fitness operators and trade organisations will need to be alive to the need to respond.