Incentivizing Health Club Member Participation in Non-dues Programs

Increase retention and membership value by incentivizing health club member participation in non-dues programs.

The following post was written by Chez Misko, COO of Wisconsin Athletic Club, for our Best Practices series.

Member Retention  Lag Fit Pilates Column

Question: I’m thinking about giving members a 5% credit on their membership dues to spend on in-club services. It works in retail. Will it work in fitness?

Incentivizing health club members to participate in non-dues programs is a fine idea, and produces a number of benefits—among them, increased retention.

When designing an incentive program such as this, I’d recommend the following: Keep it simple. Make sure that the value it provides generates action. Be certain that you can track the campaign’s success. Include an expiration date in the offering.

I personally prefer programs that reward, recognize, or demonstrate the club’s sincere appreciation to a member—that, as opposed to issuing them a blanket, unearned credit. The latter could easily be perceived as undercutting the value of a membership.

And you could easily find yourself facing a prospect or member who wants to know, “If you’re going to credit me 5% of my dues every month, why don’t you just charge me 5% less up front?”

On the other hand, sending a new client a congratulatory card and a $25 club gift certificate once they’ve successfully completed their first 90 days as a member might create more good will and boost your non-dues revenue sales. Following up with a personal call to explain the various ways they can use the gift could well seal the deal.

Author avatar


This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.