Any company can learn something from looking at how other businesses operate. You shouldn’t limit yourself to your own industry, though.
In the commercial gym market, we can learn quite a bit by looking at some of the best practices that other industries have used. For one such case, we investigated the airline industry and their pricing policies.
One difference between the airline industry and the commercial gym market is that the airline industry is an oligopoly, which, as defined by Wikipedia, is an industry dominated by four or five very large players that will oftentimes move in unison. As an example, when one airline announced they would charge for checked luggage, others quickly followed. I am pretty sure that wouldn’t be the case in the gym industry!
There are a lot of similarities between the two industries.
A treadmill in one club is the exact same as a treadmill in another club. Similarly, a plane ride from Washington to San Diego (the site of the 2010 IHRSA trade show, by the way) on United or Southwest or USAir gets you the same result…you get to your destination.
Comparing prices online between different gyms or airlines is also pretty simple and straightforward. The cost-conscious consumer may be willing to put up with some inconveniences, like driving an extra 5 or 10 minutes, to go to a less expensive gym. That same consumer has the option of adding a stop in a flight to make it less expensive. I still don’t understand how adding a stop makes it cheaper but maybe someone from an airline can address that!
What Can we Learn from the Airlines?
Pricing for seats is similar in practice to pricing for personal training. You buy one seat just as you buy one training session. There is one major difference, though — airlines charge more for the best seats: aisle and emergency row seats. Maybe the gym industry could charge more for personal training booked during the best (peak) times. The 5:30-8:30PM time slots are certainly more in demand.
Interestingly, most clubs already allow different pricing for different trainers. Different pricing by time would allow a gym to take it to the next level and receive a premium for the high-demand time slots, as well.
This principle could also be applied to classes. A bargain-conscious member may be more inclined to make it to the 5:30AM yoga class instead of the 7:00AM class if it saves him or her some money.
Take some time to examine another business in another industry. Look for ways to utilize their best practices in your own company.