Data InsightDigital innovation for booking fitness and sport activities

Digital innovation for booking fitness and sport activities

Gyms and leisure centres should make booking fitness and sport activities online as easy as hailing an Uber - Minister for Sport & Civil Society Mims Davies

A new survey released by Sport England highlights consumers current poor experiences of booking fitness and sport activities online and the impact of this on their participation.

A survey of 1,815 people conducted by ComRes between April 18 and 22 2019 found that it is twice as easy to order a takeaway than it is to book a sport or fitness class online. One fifth of adults have been put off doing fitness and sport activities because it was too difficult to find or book online.

Minister for Sport & Civil Society, Mims Davies, and Sport England Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, have urged sport and physical activity providers to commit to opening their data by the end of 2019.

To support this an additional £1.5m of National Lottery funding from Sport England to the Open Data Institute (ODI) will be announced by the Minister to continue OpenActive, a sector wide initiative which gives activity providers of all sizes, from large leisure groups to local sports clubs, the tools and training they need to open their data.

Open data in sport

ComRes surveyed 1,815 English adults aged 18+ between 18th and 22nd April 2019. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of English adults aged 18+ by key demographics including age, gender, region and social grade. Other findings from Sport England’s ComRes survey include:

  • Of the activities tested, including booking a holiday, taxi, concerts takeaways and barbers or hairdressers, most activities and services are considered easier to access online then fitness and sport activities with the exception of booking a haircut.
  • 73% of adults find it easy to book a holiday online and a majority say the same for ordering a takeaway (68%) while just a third (34%) say it is easy to book fitness and sport activities online.
  • Price, location, a description of what happens, the time it’s taking place and the difficulty level of the session are the top 5 things consumers want to know when searching for an activity online and deciding if it is for them – with price ranking as the most important.

62% of inactive adults say they don’t know how easy or difficult it is to book fitness and sport activities online.

More open data in sport – data about where and when sport and physical activity happens that anyone can access, use or share – will mean activity providers publishing information on the hundreds and thousands of sporting activities, fitness sessions and classes that they have available. Once more data is available it will also pave the way for innovators and entrepreneurs to create products and services that make it as easy for people to book a football pitch as it is to book a takeaway or holiday.

Untapped potential

Since OpenActive launched in November 2016, 27 organisations including GLL, British Cycling and Our Parks have published their data, resulting in over 170,000 physical activity sessions a month being made available online. Alongside this, Sport England has mentored 10 start-ups who are working on innovative tech solutions to get people active, to use this data. However, this represents a small fraction of the data held in the sector – highlighting significant untapped potential.

Sport England’s latest Active Lives research shows that although activity levels are rising, there are still 16.8 million people who aren’t reaching the threshold of 150 minutes of sport and physical activity a week to benefit their health. Within these figures there are stubborn inequalities. People on low incomes, women, black and South Asian people are less active than the general population.

With consumers increasingly expecting to access services online many sectors, including banking, transport and entertainment make this easy for customers. The sports sector has fallen behind in meeting customers online needs.

Opening data in sport will give consumers greater access to sport online in a way that fits into busy lives. Critically, it will enable the sports industry to better meet customer expectations and reach new audiences – those who want to get active but don’t feel able or know how to.

Last year, Tendring District Council (TDC) had revealed plans to develop a smartphone app to promote leisure and tourism within the district.

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