Anytime Fitness is a health and fitness club with 3,000 franchised locations in 20 countries. Voted the top global franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine for two years in a row, Anytime Fitness prides itself on the strength of its community of franchise owners.
The company’s annual conference is a key way to bring this community together and energize them for the coming year. All franchise owners attend, and many even bring their staff and personal trainers — and it has been running for over 10 years since its debut in 2005.
In 2015, Anytime Fitness planned to hold the event in Nashville, Tennessee. They rented out multiple venues around town for the conference, along with honky tonks for nighttime events that included performances by famous country bands. Additionally, for the first time after 10 years, Anytime Fitness decided to take their annual conference digital.
Anytime Fitness looked for an event app to meet two goals that printed programs could not. The first was to facilitate engagement among attendees, from in-person interactions to community connection via social media. The second goal was to relay timely, ever- changing event information with a dynamic platform.
However, there was one thing that printed programs did really well: creative branding. The team had historically gone “all out” on the printed programs, with themes, custom photoshoots, and special print materials to convey character.
As a result, the event app had one more hard-and-fast requirement: to reinforce the Anytime brand and give people a memorable experience. “It was a very big deal for us to switch from a printed format to a digital format,” said Lofboom.
The team chose Attendify, and the Anytime Fitness event app became the backbone of the Nashville conference.
A favorite feature among attendees was the news feed, which added an extra layer of connectivity. “It was like our own private little Facebook news feed — a secret means of communication with only the people at the event,” said Lofboom. People could post photos and messages, and also cross-post to the real Facebook for more social media presence.
The app also spurred more 1:1 connections among attendees through features like private instant messaging and profile search with tags. For example, a person could search the attendee roster for all profiles of “Minnesota club owners” to see colleagues in their area and decide who to meet up with.
The app schedule kept things running smoothly. It showed two conference tracks: one for the main programming of Anytime Fitness and one for its sister company. Users could browse the schedule, click on an event, read the description, and check out the speaker’s profile.
The conference team could send a push notification to attendees if the time of an event changed. (And this also came in handy if someone lost their phone.)
The event organizers wanted to take advantage of their unique Nashville setting, so they loaded the Attendify interactive area map with pins highlighting “must-see” points of interest around town. They used another map to show the locations of exhibits at their big trade show.
“Attendify helped me transfer key elements from the printed program to the app, so that we weren’t losing any of the event’s feeling,” said Lofboom. When attendees started using the conference app, they were greeted with a warm welcome letter from the founders and the Anytime Fitness logo.
The app also supported sponsor branding for their three sponsors. In the past, they would have had a full page ad in a printed program, but now sponsors were promoted with strategically-placed banners in the app. “We worked with Attendify to determine which times of the day the app would be most utilized, and then posted our sponsor banners during those times for maximum viewing.”
They also used the app to increase signups for their affiliated charity, Heart First, where franchisees could sign up to be a “Heart First club” and donate a percentage of their monthly revenue to charity. During a particular session of the conference, an award was presented to the beneficiaries of the charity. “After that presentation, we were able to say, ‘go to digital conference app right now if you’d like to sign up to be a Heart First club.’ We capitalized on that live energy and emotion of the presentation.”
In fact, attendees continued to post in the event app up to half a year a!er their first-ever digital conference was over, posting selfies and connecting with the community socially.
Anytime Fitness is planning for their next digital conference with the event app, and looking forward to reenergizing their franchisees for another year.