The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



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The Keys to Building Community

By Jon Feld

In a recent post, I mused (briefly) about the choices IHRSA makes for its International Convention & Trade Show keynote speakers. While I mentioned my discussions with CEO Tony Hsieh, author of Delivering Happiness, I never really delved into my thoughts about why he was uniquely qualified to present at the event.

In comparing the ways in which Zappos and clubs serve their customers, Hsieh  says, “In a lot of ways, we built our brand around customer service through the phone. With the face-to-face contact that clubs enjoy, you have a bigger advantage in creating a personal, emotional connection than through telephone or e-mail.”

In that previous post, I discussed the passion most entrepreneurs share for what they do and for those they serve. Hsieh takes it a step further with Delivering Happiness. Certainly, creating the best possible experiences for customers is the driving force behind what Zappos does and what club operators seek to achieve. But Hsieh’s vision has taken root and he’s beginning to achieve what we in the club industry already have: a community growing around his service ideals.

One point he makes in the book is that you need to have the mindset that you will “seek to change the world.” And that point has taken life beyond his pages. The Delivering Happiness Movement has raised funds for charity and more. “We wanted the book to be the spark that caused Delivering Happiness to take on a life of its own,” Hsieh related. “We’ve heard that there are physical communities around the world and we want to continue to build out multiple communities online.”

In my view, that’s the strongest link Hsieh has to the club industry: He’s found a way to spread the gospel and have a positive impact on lives outside his business. It’s a goal we’ve spoken to with regard to reaching the deconditioned and other markets for several years now. To that end, his presentation may unlock some secrets to building community that we can put to work for the long term.

Check out the full interview with Tony Hsieh in the March issue of CBI , available next week.

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