Club Industry 2012: Learn more to earn more at Club Industry with panel and seminars

Club Industry is underway in Las Vegas, and the SNEWS team will be live Tweeting from the event tomorrow. Until then, here’s a little overview of some of the panels and educational opportunities you can take advantage of while in Sin City.

Nobody really wants what happens in Vegas to stay in Vegas. Not when you’re a hoping to educate folks in the industry about strategies that will boost business.

Club Industry is underway in Las Vegas and the SNEWS team will be live Tweeting from the event tomorrow, but until then, here’s a little overview of some of the panels and educational opportunities you can take advantage of while in Sin City.

A notable panel is one taking place from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m., Friday, on the show floor near the Theatre Area that addresses techniques to utilize social media to promote word-of-mouth marketing.

One panelist is Rob Fuggetta, founder and CEO of Zuberance, a brand advocacy company based in San Francisco and author of “Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force.”

Other panelsts include Teresa Coffre-Gordon, chief marketing officer of Millennium Partners Sports Club Management; and Kari Bedgood, vice president of marketing and PR at Club One, Inc. The panel is moderated by Bill McBride, president and COO of Club One and chairperson of IHRSA’s board of directors.

“My message is simple,” Fuggetta told SNEWS. “Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful way to market your club. I’m going to share with people at Club Industry how they can tap into the power of word-of-mouth to get more referrals and more memberships.”

Fuggetta said word-of-mouth marketing is conducted by everybody, and those people loyal to a certain club, fitness retailer or brand can be called brand advocates. Right now, he said, there are many companies missing opportunities to connect with brand advocates and have them continue to spread the good word about their business.

“Every club has people who love that club and recommend it,” Fuggetta said, adding that the same applies to fitness specialty retailers. “Word-of-mouth referrals for many clubs represent half their business.”

Referrals from friends are more powerful than advertising or other types of promotions to get people in their doors without them.

“Ninety-five percent of people ignore and don’t trust advertising,” Fuggetta said. “What they do trust is their friends’ recommendations on everything form a book, a movie, a club.”

Though word-of-mouth marketing has been around since the beginning of time.

“It’ been around ever since Eve said to Adam, ‘Here try this apple. You’ll like it,’ ”

Today it takes its form on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp! Fuggetta said, and fitness clubs and specialty fitness retailers alike need to create a word-of-mouth program.

“You go out and talk to marketing people for clubs and they don’t have a word-of-mouth marketing program,” Fuggetta said. He encourages businesses to find those referring them on the three online platforms, reach out to them and encourage them to continue to talk good about their company. 

“Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful for your readers as well because when someone has a good experience with fitness equipment they’re going to tell other people about it, and when they have a bad experience they’re going to tell people about that, too,” Fuggetta said. What businesses need to do is give people a way to broadcast their good feeling about an experience with their company, like a profile on their website or a shout out on Twitter or Facebook, or a chance to write another review on Yelp.

While the panel is invaluable to attendees, there are other opportunities for education. The trade show floor is open today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For a full list of seminars and events, click here.

--Ana Trujillo