This summer when your loyal clients take their summer vacations, jet away to long beach weekends or merely head outdoors rather than into the gym, your client base may dwindle. With your prime training times temporarily vacant, it is time to seek out a new type of clientele.
These clients can’t find the time to exercise during their hectic lives at home. They hold high-powered jobs, boast a disposable income and have competitive natures, yet often overlook their own health and fitness. For many, a mindless sunbathing vacation doesn’t hold enough interest or activity. They need a challenge and need the exercise. Luxury hotels have identified this market and now cater to people looking for a “destination fitness” challenge during their vacation.
Destination fitness programs give fitness professionals the opportunity to provide health and wellness services to the vacationing population. Services include fitness camps with weeks dedicated solely to losing weight; personal training in hotel rooms; boot camps in local parks; and even group tours that incorporate jogging, walking or biking with seeing the sites. Increasing your tourist business will lead to more local business and a stronger presence and status in the fitness world.
This summer, target those looking for a healthy way to spend their vacations. You can help them improve their life while helping your business thrive—and possibly
financing a luxury vacation of your own.
My interest in destination fitness began while I was vacationing in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the posh Tigerlily boutique hotel. I was elated to see that alongside their modern decor, fully loaded iPods, remote-control fireplaces and huge plasma screen TVs, they offered an in-suite personal trainer. They advertise this service not only among their amenities on their website but also in their in-room guide. The ad for a local personal trainer includes his biography and contact information for scheduling your session.
In fact, several upscale hotels offer such services. For example, the Four Seasons in New York City has three personal trainers on call and conducts training sessions in Central Park or its own gym facility, with premium fees attached ($225 for a 50-minute session or $280 for an 80-minute session). The Bellagio in Las Vegas offers a line of yoga, strength and abdominal classes for a small daily fee or free with any spa service. The Los Angeles Athletic Club’s 80,000-square-foot facility offers guests of the hotel
affiliated with it everything from a staggering 70 group exercise classes a week, to two indoor swimming pools, to four handball courts.
Offering fitness services enhances a hotel’s image while costing the company very little. “A number of leading hotel brands have conducted extensive guest surveys, with fitness ranking on average as the
second or third amenity priority for travelers when assessing and choosing a hotel,” says Bryan Green, president and CEO of Advantage Fitness Products, on Hotel Executive.com. That’s why they need
excellent on-call trainers and fitness instructors to ensure the quality of their programs and the satisfaction of their guests.
As a personal trainer, how can you profit from destination fitness? Your first step should be setting up a plan of action. Ask yourself what you will do for vacationers. Remember that while clients will want a workout, they are still on vacation and will want an element of fun and luxury. As you plan your services, bear in mind that creativity often enhances marketability.
Teaching Classes/Giving Tours. Using the natural surroundings that have already lured vacationers to your area, you can teach a heart-pumping, muscle-building fitness class. Parks and beaches make the perfect settings for these classes. For example, New York’s Central Park boot camps command from $20 to $30 per person per class. Sightseeing tours have become increasingly popular as a quick, easy and entertaining way to explore. By including a wellness aspect into a tour, you will make these attractions all the more attractive. Walking and biking tours have taken off in many cities. Why not host a walking tour that includes triceps dips on a bench while admiring the White House?
Training Visitors. Wealthy visitors to your city may require a bit more privacy and personal attention for their training sessions. Moving your practice to private gyms or even your clients’ hotels will
afford you the opportunity to train
with privacy and steeper price tags. “Remember these clients want the best of the best,” says Cedric Cosiac, NASM, CPT, who trains privately at the Ritz Carlton hotel in New York City and at a Manhattan fitness studio. “On vacation they eat the best food, they buy the best clothing and they demand the best training.” He also recommends that you rent space from a high-end studio, as these clients demand a luxurious ambiance.
Hotels like the Four Seasons can get away with charging $225 dollars for 50 minutes, but they have a captive client base willing to spend their money on top-end services. To start your business, you will have to do research. What are others charging in your area? What are your clients willing to pay? What are vacationers willing to pay? What are your costs? One of the best ways to
assess the demand for your product and to establish a desirable cost is to set up
a survey. Find a hotel or tourist attraction in your area to partner with to conduct your survey. Be sure to include price ranges for survey participants to choose from. From their answers, you will gauge what your target audience is willing to pay for your services.
Once you have decided what type of services you want to offer to visitors, you need to market these services. Here are a few things to think about:
Set Up a Business Website. As you visit hotels, shops or tourist attractions in your area to build your network and potential partnerships, have information about your services readily available. A business card with a website detailing your programs is a good way to establish yourself. You may create a new website or use your existing one by adding a page for your destination fitness programs.
Develop Your Contacts. Contacts are your key to excelling in the hospitality world and securing new clients. Do not be afraid to reach out. The more contacts you have, the more opportunities you will have. Helpful contacts include local sport retailers, tourist attractions and hotels. Smaller hotels may be more willing to set up partnerships with you. Offer a percentage to them for in-room training in exchange for their promotion of your services.
Adding destination fitness to your current repertoire will enhance your brand and attract new clients. Professionalism through having reputable personal trainer insurance, creating a business website, conducting marketing surveys and using new social media marketing opportunities such as Meetup (see sidebar) will ease this addition. Having the courage to approach businesses for partnerships will expand your network and help appeal to your new clients. Destination fitness will impact your business positively while inspiring your new clients to change their lifestyle and adopt a healthier daily workout regimen.
Setting up a group on www.meetup.com is a great way to establish yourself and find people interested in your destination fitness (and other) offerings. Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. The site has 6 million monthly visitors and boasts 6.1 million members. In fact, each month 2.2 million people RSVP to group events like the ones you can create. “Meetups” currently take place in 45,000 cities worldwide, with more than 2,000 groups getting together in local communities each day. Meetup is an excellent way to test the success of a new program.
You can choose from three subscriptions:
- $12 a month for 6 months (a single $72 charge)
- $15 a month for 3 months (a single $45 charge)
- $19 a month
Each subscription renews automatically and has a 30-day money-back guarantee from the date of your initial purchase. Purchasing a subscription entitles you to run up to three Meetup groups under the same subscription. Once you are an established group, you can entice sponsors to advertise on your page to cover these costs. Many sponsors will even organize a free event for your group.
I run a fitness group in New York City and have had local gyms and running stores contact me in order to reach out to my participants. I charge $25 to small businesses and $50 to larger organizations to advertise on our site for one month or to put on a Meetup event together.
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