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IHRSA/Mercado Fitness: An Industry Fiesta

In just three years, the IHRSA/Mercado Fitness Mexico City Conference & Trade Show has become the preeminent industry event in Mexico, which, by any gauge, is one of the five largest markets in the Americas.

According to The IHRSA Global Report 2016, the country now has 7,826 fitness facilities, with some 2.7 million members, and annual revenues of $1.5 billion—and all of those numbers are growing.

Testifying to the sector’s vibrancy is the fact that, this year, attendance at the 3rd annual IHRSA/Mercado Fitness (I/MF) gathering, taking place October 26–27, at the World Trade Center in Mexico City, is expected to jump by 20%, topping 6,000.

Upgrades and Improvements

The increase is being driven, in part, by the numerous upgrades and improvements to the 2016 edition of I/MF.

“While the 2014 and 2015 events in Santa Fe were very successful and well-attended, this year the conference and trade show will take place in the heart of Mexico City, which will boost attendance,” says Jacqueline Antunes, IHRSA’s senior manager for Latin America.

In addition to increased accessibility, I/MF ’16 boasts a host of other enhancements, explains José Antonio Mársico, the CEO of Mercado Fitness Mexico, the program’s producer. It’s been promoted by well-known athletes and government organizations, has introduced a new web platform and app, and has fine-tuned its schedule of conferences and workshops to maximize the possibilities for attendees.

In all, it will offer some 10 conferences and four seminars that, together, will address virtually every essential, as well as some extraordinary, aspects of health club operations. And, as it has in the past, I/MF will attract operators from throughout Mexico and countries such as Argentina, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the U.S.

There will be simultaneous translation of presentations for non-Spanish speakers. “It’s exciting for us to be able to establish this event as the most important industry convention in Mexico and Central America,” says Mársico.

Conference Speakers and Lessons

Like its predecessors, I/MF ’16 will employ a solid base of knowledgeable presenters from the hemisphere— including Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina—and abroad.

Prominent among the key international speakers are Dr. Paul Bedford, the research director of Retention Guru, based in Croydon, Surrey, England; and Alan Leach, the regional manager of the West Wood Clubs, which has three facilities in Dublin, Ireland, and one in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Both men will give two presentations. Bedford, one of the world’s leading authorities on retention, attrition, and customer experience management, will speak on “Retention Fundamentals: What Factors Affect Retention, Attrition, and Member Loyalty. It’s Retention 101,” and “Conversational Behavior Change.”

Leach, a global “guru” in the sales and marketing arena, will, predictably, tackle the topics of “The Art of Selling Fitness” and “The Art of Fitness Marketing.”

Though this will be his first appearance at I/MF, Leach has presented in Mexico previously, as well as at the IHRSA/Fitness Brazil Latin American Conference & Trade Show in São Paulo. One of the things he’s discovered is that, when it comes to the sale and marketing of fitness services, things, worldwide, are much the same.

“In every country you have people who truly believe ‘their’ situation is different,” he says. “They say their customers are different. They say the economy is different. ‘People in our country don’t like to pay for ... this or that.’ But, in each of these countries,” he indicates, “you have forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are creating very successful fitness companies. And they’re building these brands using the same professional sales and marketing systems that successful fitness companies have been using in the U.S. and Europe for years.”

Continue reading “An Industry Fiesta” in the October issue of Club Business International.

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