Expert Interview Series: Adrian Thompson of imageHOLDERS on Using Mobile Devices in Fitness Centers

By Aaron Eisberg

Adrian Thompson is the CEO of imageHOLDERS, where he oversees the design, manufacture and deployment of tablet kiosk solutions worldwide.

We recently asked Adrian about how mobile devices are being used across businesses in all sectors including fitness centers. Here's what he had to say:

What inspired you to found imageHOLDERS? What problems are you hoping to solve with your business?

I started 20 years ago, designing and developing gift and homeware products. In 2003 I established imageHOLDERS to develop solutions to support digital branding in the form of print and the rising audio/video (AV) market. I have a passion for design and creating innovative solutions from a simple sketch, to bespoke solutions that can be rolled out to global enterprises.

In 2010 mobile technology made a significant leap with the introduction of the first iPad ... tablet technology was born. Straight away I could see the vast opportunities for businesses in adopting the consumer tablet technology and leveraging it to benefit enterprise. I got straight to work with my design engineering team and focused the business on developing stylish and secure tablet enclosures and iPad kiosks, quickly establishing imageHOLDERS into industry leaders within tablets enclosures and device integration.

My objective is to allow businesses to easily utilize technology to increase customer experience and engagement by providing a cost-effective, efficient and future-proof solution.

How are mobile devices being used in businesses of all types today?

Every industry can use mobile devices such as tablet technology to support their business strategy. We support clients from a variety of industry sectors including hospitality, retail, leisure, automotive, casino, corporate and healthcare - all of which have seen the benefits of tablet enclosure kiosks first hand.

Tablet enclosures and iPad Kiosks can be used for:
    • Access control and security
    • Check-in/out systems
    • POS systems
    • Loyalty schemes
    • Customer engagement
    • Digital menus
    • Entertainment hubs
    • Photobooths
    • Feedback and surveys
    • Meeting room booking
    • Digital concierge
    • Stock control
    • Wayfinding

What are the most common uses for tablets you've observed in businesses? What about the most unique uses you've seen?

The most common use for standard tablet enclosures is for gaining feedback from online surveys at universities or exhibitions. However, they are being combined more often with devices to create multifunctional tablet kiosks such as self-service payment terminals and POS systems within retail and restaurants.

We have recently installed our new modular tablet Compact Kiosk into Coral bookmakers across the U.K. to be used as interactive gaming and betting terminals, a unique project as it is the first of its kind in the world.

How have you observed technology changing the fitness industry?

The fitness industry has drastically changed over the past five years, with Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat bringing more visibility to people's health and fitness. Gyms can take advantage of this move by embracing the technological move that their clientele have made and actively encouraging interaction with their brands online presence.

2016 has seen wearable technology become a massive trend within the fitness industry. Gyms are able to link people's fitness goals with their wearables and merge people's personal devices with gym technology. This has improved marketing and data collection for gyms as they are able to personalize memberships and loyalty programs.

In what ways are mobile technology and devices being incorporated into the gym and fitness industry?

Consumers are expecting to be able to access fitness and leisure centers 24/7, and we've noticed how tablet technology is enabling this. With access control and membership kiosks, fitness centres are able to provide round-the-clock service without the cost of night shift workers on reception desks.

By utilizing tablet kiosks with built-in fingerprint readers, or barcode scanners users can gain access to a busy 24/7 gym through biometrics, which can also store data on the frequency of users visiting. Gyms and health clubs can use this data to provide a personalized experience for their customers, for example, if they notice a member has not visited in awhile they can send an automated email with encouragement or work out ideas.

Why should owners of fitness centers consider incorporating mobile devices like tablets into their gyms?

Clients like to feel like they are being invested in. The fitness industry is an incredibly popular and growing sector and there have been over 224 new public and private fitness facilities opened in the last 12 months across the U.K. alone. It's important to ensure that no opportunities are missed. Whether that's through opening times, payment methods or loyalty schemes, tablet technology enables gyms to provide great customer service and increase engagement.

What are best practices for using tablets and other mobile devices in fitness centers? What are the dos and don'ts?

Firstly, I would think about the "business case" for introducing tablet kiosks. Does the business need support with staffing resources or queue management? If the answer is yes then tablet kiosk are an ideal cost effective solution.

Then I would consider "how" the tablet kiosk will meet the business case. Providing current members the option to use their membership card or fingerprint (biometrics) to quickly gain entry without visiting the reception desk can reduce queues at busy periods or prevent the need for night time staff at 24/7 gyms.

Do some research before you invest in a tablet, I would suggest choosing a tablet that will work best with the software you want to run on it. You could end up purchasing a tablet such as an iPad and find out the software you want to use only works on Android. Also, if you want to turn your tablet into a multifunctional solution choose one that has additional USB or HDMI ports so you can easily connect other devices to it such as printers and scanners.

When investing in tablet technology it is important to ensure it's protected. Choose a tablet enclosure that is secure and can withstand heavy usage, but remains stylish. Consider the best positioning of the unit to ensure customer engagement and usage, is the tablet enclosure best placed on a wall, reception counter or a separate freestanding unit?

What do you believe is the future for how businesses use mobile devices?

I think more and more businesses will see the advantages of adopting tablet technology within their strategy as it is much more accessible and cost effective than previous solutions.

What trends or innovations are you following in your world today?

We are living within an era of rapidly changing technology but I am keeping my eye on a few trends including the internet of things, automated technology, actual reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), wireless charging and beacons. Some of these are starting to have an impact now such as beacons being utilized by business to increase customer engagement and loyalty, while others are still a few years away.

Looking for ways to incorporate technology in your gym? Start using AccuroFit to help your club members track their fitness data in real time. Request a demo today.

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