I write to you today to transparently address some of the issues raised on our social media platforms, in particular our new mobile app and the booking of classes.
We began development on our new mobile app late last year. Envisioned to be a more robust and feature-rich version, the app is designed to give members more convenience and increase engagement through gamification and challenges, with other feature releases to follow.
The app was due to be rolled out over several months under ‘normal circumstances’ with the gradual on-boarding of members in a controlled manner but the pandemic forced an earlier release to our members to facilitate a safe return to the gym.
However, with Phase 1 lockdowns easing simultaneously in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore, we saw an unexpectedly high volume of members on-boarding with the app at the same time. This regrettably led to high traffic which put stress on the system.
We are sorry for the inconvenience caused and our developers were working around the clock to settle those particular issues.
Availability of Class and Gym Floor Access Slots
One additional problem we expect to resolve in the following weeks is with regard to class bookings. For this we have some way to go with development work and seek our members’ help to mitigate much of the challenge.This is explained below.
Over the last few months, we have been in close dialogue with Sport SG and industry colleagues to agree to a set of Standard Operating Procedures for the fitness industry. Based on the guidelines issued by Sport SG on 17 June for the safety of all gym goers, each fitness facility is only allowed to admit a maximum of 50 people, regardless of the size of the premises. The full set of guidelines can be found on the Sport SG website.
The implementation of these guidelines has resulted in a restricted capacity where some members are unable to book a slot for their favourite group fitness class or club. The demand often outweighs the supply, and class spots can be booked up almost instantaneously when the booking window opens. In this particular case, this is not an app problem; in fact, the app is facilitating a very fast booking process. For clarity, we have made sure to maintain and, in some cases, increased the number of studio-based group fitness classes to try and accommodate as many members as possible.
The challenges with booking and the app are significantly compounded by three factors and we appeal for your help in sharing with other members to dramatically reduce the problem ahead of the next app update:
- During the period of 24 June until 31 July, there were 15,166 vacant slots which had been ‘booked’ but members had not shown up, thus depriving others of a workout or class. Please remember to cancel any bookings you are unable to attend, as early as you can.
- There are several thousand members who book multiple slots a day, thus reducing the opportunity for others. We plead to your sense of community to help fellow members by moderating your bookings at this time.
- Additional traffic is being created with thousands of additional ‘data calls’ with some members continuously hitting the ‘book now’ button when a slot is released, causing the member’s app to ‘freeze’ or an error message to appear.
We wish to stress that the gym floor and PT session bookings are a temporary measure built to comply with the necessary safety requirements, and we intend to lift them once government sanctions allow us to do so. From our records we note that clubs in the CBD and business parks have seen lower traffic during this time, which may increase members’ chances of booking a slot.
With regard to these challenges, the following measures will be introduced:
- Introducing a penalty for repeated no-shows and repeated late cancellations (3 strikes within a 30-day period will incur a temporary suspension of the booking function).
- Limiting members to a maximum of 2 bookings per day.
- Introducing a ‘waitlist’ function for classes to allow the timely release of a cancelled booking for other members to enjoy.
We are in the final phase of stress testing for these new functions and will share more information before the end of the month.
We recognise that members may wish to refrain from going to the gym until the COVID-19 situation eases. We would like to therefore extend the option of a complimentary freeze for September –please click here to submit your freeze request by 25th August 2020 to allow sufficient time for your September dues to be adjusted.
Over the years, we have operated and grown our business with integrity, continuous innovation, with robust strategic governance and prudent financial management. It’s for these reasons that we are here today and able to provide members with the experiences that they love.
And while we had not received revenue during the 12 weeks of the Circuit Breaker and Phase 1, we have committed ourselves to retain the vast majority of our staff, provide remuneration, and keep them engaged throughout.
We are so thankful to our teams for continuing to work hard, designing programmes and producing workout videos which we made available for free through our social media pages, as well as managing the call centre lines and social media enquiries. We receive thousands of calls, emails, social media comments and DMs as well as web enquiries daily – all of which we have strived to respond to in a timely, professional manner, and we apologise if we take a little longer than usual to attend to you.
We acknowledge that we have fallen short of the service you have expected from us over the years during these challenging times, however we would like to respectfully request that members refrain from using abusive language towards our staff. We appeal to your good nature to join with us and work together on the journey ahead to help us ensure we can remain a viable business and improve members’ experience, and continue to be here to support you on your fitness journey long after the threat of Covid-19 has passed. In the meantime, we assure you that we are doing everything we can to expedite improvements towards your experience and seek your patience while we do this.
Fitness First Singapore