Studies on how experiences influence behavior, specifically in relationships, have found that there is a far greater ratio of positive to negative experiences required to make people happy. As an example, successful marriages maintain a 5:1 ration of pleasant feelings to bad, whereas relationships with one to one good / bad ratio have a far greater chance of ending. Researching the effects of design on pleasure, it is believed that humans need three positive experiences to compensate for every bad one. So simply doing one good thing to counteract a bad experience won’t be enough, and will still leave a negative feeling. One bad feeling about your club for a prospect will require your sales team or staff to provide there positives just to get back to level ground. Based on these studies, operators really can’t afford many bad encounters if we aim to keep our members happy.
Specific design that can make some members feel good, may not for others. A common mistake made is that one very good design positive can eradicate a host of negatives. An example is using all resources to make the lobby look good, while leaving bad lighting, worn materials, poor acoustics, and inadequate airflow in the rest of the club. In fact, some users will be affected by design features profoundly different; where the new front desk may not matter to a regular as much as a great shower or up to date equipment will.
Design can help move the prospect to a new member, encourage the new member to become a regular, and ultimately provide the right environment to allow the easy transition from a regular to an enthusiast. Each require different strategies and dedicated efforts to keep them in that happy zone
Prospect to Member
The prospect for example, never really uses your club. Most of what they will be excited about will come from what they see. This is similar to a retail experience. While touring the club, prospects are thinking, “do I like this place?”, “do I belong here?”, “how easy or hard will it be to come here?” Do I feel safe here?” This group critically needs overwhelming positive feelings to overcome the stress of joining. First impressions are very important, so a nice lobby, in this case, will sell. The design should get them excited as they move through the club. The most important design feature to this group is to develop the tour, which should be carefully designated and choreographed. These predetermined pathways should clearly and naturally show off the best attributes of the club.
Member to Regular
The design considerations to accommodate this group are more pragmatic, since they are already a member. We want to make it easy use the club. They use the showers, wait for a treadmill, and experience the environment in a very different way. The design features that help with this group have more to do with flow, accessibility, socialability, convenience and comfort. We want to make it easy to navigate from point A to point B. They will appreciate legitimate studio space and programming without waiting in tight hallways and stairways. The experience of being able to get a great work out, take a shower, and get dressed for work becomes important. Any hassles associated with using the club needs to be eliminated. Hassles equal negative emotions; remember we need three positives to one negative to just be perceived as average. Two cardio decks give me options and different energy levels. Social nodes that encourages meeting new people offer incentives to come back. Certainly programming and classes will play a big part, but easy in and out for storage in well in designed rooms do make a difference.
Regular to Enthusiast
As a member moves to enthusiast,, design influence around imagery becomes less critical, but design intelligence that supports the workout remains important. Success and accomplishments will feed the enthusiast. But is your facility designed to accommodate the diversity of programming necessary to keep this group engaged? Yes, great water pressure is a bonus, but give me enough room to do my individuated or small group trainings. If the newest trend is shoehorned in a hallway, they may look elsewhere.
Design has much more influence in your club than what you may expect. Good design, that considers all the users, can be the basis for a long lasting relationship. Keeping members happy as they evolve to become your biggest supporters is certainly a relationship worth the effort.