Implementing RSVP: PYRAMID's Fitness Class Reservation System
Initially a tool to manage building capacity, RSVP introduced asynchronous reservation processes that reduced interaction costs.
Project dates: June-October 2020
With fitness classes capped at 50 percent due to COVID-19, PYRAMID offered reservations via phone, walk-in, Facebook Messenger, and chatbot. As members became more comfortable to return to class, it was clear that a unified system would a more effective way to manage registrations.
Modifying the UX Research Plan that Stakeholders Love, I used a combination of generative and evaluative methods to discover user/stakeholder needs, and to determine the most intuitive system. Once complete, I implemented the system and managed its rollout.
What is the state of the current reservation process and what would make it more efficient?
To cast a wide net of member feedback, I constructed a survey in Qualtrics that I shared with each person who attended a fitness class in 2019-2020, according to PYRAMID's member-management system. Respondents were asked whether they had reserved a space in a fitness class since the club's reopening.
Those who responded yes were given Likert-scale questions about their reservation experience with corresponding open-ended follow-ups for them to expand. All respondents were asked about what other services requried online reservations.
Respondents shared difficulty in reaching front desk employees by phone and delays in receiving confirmation. They also expressed the need to be able to modify their reservations.
Staff & Management Interviews
I also needed to understand how reservation workflows were impacting staff, along with how a future reservation system could impact them in the future. I interviewed the club's Director of Operations, who oversees all staff, and Front Desk Leads, who were responsible for fielding reservation requests.
Front Desk Leads shared their difficulty in fielding a high volume of reservations at once, while also needing to focus on in-person tasks.
The Director of Operations shared an interest in using class reservations as a call-to-action for class marketing. Additionally, she shared the club's ambition to use a reservation system across more services than just fitness classes.
I began by dissecting the class interfaces of three popular fitness clubs: Equinox, Crunch, and the Y.
While Crunch and the Y presented classes in the order of class times, Equniox presented classes by franchise, building-in a way to promote certain classes.
I also considered the reservation systems that survey respondents reported using: those of Peloton, local healthcare networks, and OpenTable. Each of these services presented their appointments by type, similar to Equinox.
Synthesis & Analysis
Arranging the steps of each reservation method shows the volume of opportunities where staff and members fail to synchronize their efforts. In situations where staff are checking temperatures or cleaning equipment, they find themselves in a position where they have to delay an in-person interaction or risk members' giving up on their attempt to register.
In UX terms, the interaction costs of reserving a class become so high that it was easier to either show up without a reservation or to find another way to work out. To decrease those interaction costs, our new reservation system needed to offer an asynchronous sign-up process.
Given the need to ship quickly, we were in a position to use an existing SaaS. To establish criteria for selecting a system, I arranged feedback from surveys and interviews into an affinity diagram.
Which provides a more usable end-to-end experience for members and staff: Acuity or Calendly?
Front-End Usability Testing
To observe how members felt about each system, I used trial accounts of both systems to generate sample classes that members could reserve. While speaking aloud, six participants completed reservations using both systems. To avoid order effects, three participants reserved using Calendly first, while the other three reserved using Acuity first.
Participants unanimously favored Calendly over Acuity, praising its more-native feel and the ability to view class descriptions in the Calendly datepicker.
Admin Usability Testing
To observe how staff felt about each system, I added sample reservations into each system. While speaking aloud, participants were tasked with retrieving reservation lists and cancelling the class.
Staff members also preferred Calendly's interface, but were more agnostic than members in their feedback.
Since Calendly was favored by members and staff, we purchased a professional membership and created events for each class. For marketing purposes, we named the system RSVP, reflecting the inclusive nature of fitness classes. Doubling as tutorials, I created promotional posters that were placed on every pathway that led to a fitness class studio.
RSVP adopted by 96 percent of members within the first month of its availability. This drastically reduced the need for staff context-switching, enabling them to focus on in-person interactions.
Use Case: PYRAMID (At Home)
When Pennsylvania mandated gym closures again in December 2020, we launched PYRAMID (At Home): a digital platform with one month of live fitness classes, one-on-one training, and home workout challenges. RSVP played a crucial role in (At Home)'s user experience, and members' existing mental models of registration allowed for easier onboarding.
This project demonstrates the opportunity fitness clubs have to improve online sales by implementing shorter, more user-friendly signup processes. To date, I'm yet to see another fitness club adopt this strategy despite its success at PYRAMID. What's more, this project exposed me to the variety of ways that UX could have impact at fitness clubs, to the point that I've continued working with PYRAMID for the past three years.