Leisure Industry: Predictions for 2018

Leisure industry trends 2018 Part 2 (1)

As the door closes on 2017, another one opens on 2018. A fresh new year can bring new challenges, and also new opportunities.

We spoke to 4 Leisure Recruitment MD Jean Wing Hing to see what he thinks is going to be the big news in the UK leisure industry in 2018.

What do you think is going to be the damp squib of 2018?

Jean: We are starting to get wind of more and more trampoline parks shutting down. Word on the street is that prices can’t get any more competitive and there’s not enough room for everyone. As operators struggle to diversify their offering, we’re predicting much flatter growth for this sector in the coming months.

What developments in the gym sector?

Jean: The health and fitness industry has seen an explosion of so-called boutique health clubs over the last couple of years. These are typically smaller clubs with quite distinct identities that cater for the discerning gym goer who shies away from the big commercial gyms chains. They were seen as quirky, trendy retreats that only those in the know were members of. But the boutique chains have aggressively been rolling out sites and, together with them being ideally sized for franchisees to pick up, the boutique market has become somewhat mainstream, dare we say.

So what’s next? Specialist seems to be the new boutique. Not only does a gym brand have to be cool, individual and all of the above, but it now has to deliver a specialized service. They provide products that are slick and well-packaged yet still appeal to the masses. Have a look at 9Round and Barry’s Bootcamp as great examples of brands doing things in a new way.

What’s happening in the world of wearable tech, a topic we’ve been talking about for years?

Jean: One of the biggest trends we’re seeing at the moment is gym companies really embracing the tech available on the market and looking to integrate with personal devices. Soon it’s not unfeasible that we will we all be connected to our personal trainers 24/7. Whether that happens in 2018 is unlikely, but it’s coming.

What about the spa sector?

Jean: There have been many developments in the spa sector this last couple of years and I think that mindfulness will be the hot topic in 2018. With the trends moving from beauty treatments to wellness treatments recently, the next step is offer treatments which are more holistic and incorporate mental health as well as physical health and wellness. Industry leaders are already starting to develop an offering which is more in the mindfulness sphere than ever before.

Thanks, Jean. We will look out for these in the leisure industry in 2018.

To see a review of our 2017 and what 2018 may have in store for us here at 4 Leisure Recruitment, have a look at our last blog post.

2017 in review: and leisure recruitment predictions for 2018

2017 has been another funny old year. Maybe not quite as odd as 2016, but nonetheless we’ve had Trump, cyber attacks, hurricanes and storms, attacks that have torn us apart and brought us together, and moved two steps closer (and one step back) to leaving the EU.

While it’s not quite been as eventful in the world of leisure recruitment, we have had our moments, and there’s certainly a lot to look back on, and also to look forward to.

Leisure industry trends 2018

Migration and the leisure workforce

In January, we reported on the news that authorities were taking a harder line on employing illegal workers, and that several nail salons had been targeted and found to be employing foreign workers illegally. https://www.4leisurerecruitment.co.uk/blog/2017/01/

Whether you think this is a good thing or not, it is likely that a shortage of talent will continue into 2018 as fewer people come to the UK to work from the EU, and some EU nationals that are here start to leave the UK. It will continue to be a challenge to colleges to create the work-ready skilled workers that the beauty industry needs, and to employers to recruit and retain the home-grown talent that they need to meet demand.

The continued success of outdoor swimming

In February, we talked about the renaissance of lidos across the UK. https://www.4leisurerecruitment.co.uk/blog/2017/02/

An upturn in interest in outdoor swimming, whether in natural pools or in lidos has been a big story in 2016 and 2017. The trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2018 with reports of increased investment in outdoor swimming facilities, and in the lifeguard staff needed for the facilities to operate. Lifeguarding will continue to be an in-demand job in 2018 and there will continue to be plenty of work kicking around for NPLQ qualified lifeguards both on a permanent and temporary basis.

If you’re interested in being a lifeguard, or in hiring them from us, please do meet our lifeguard recruitment team

Start of the conference season

In March, we again attended Professional Beauty London where Jean sat on the panel for the education seminar. Again, Jean talked about the importance of producing beauty graduates who can do the basics well, and on the role of beauty employers in CPD. https://www.4leisurerecruitment.co.uk/blog/spaandbeauty-news/professional-beauty-london-2017/

In 2018, we hope that colleges take on board what the industry is asking for in terms of core skills and work experience and rise up to the challenge of playing their part in producing the workers of tomorrow.

Discrimination and tightening employment laws

In May, we were discussing the issue of employee discrimination in job interviews and how employers can land themselves in trouble if they inadvertently, or otherwise, ask something that could be considered discriminatory towards job candidates. It’s a tricky area but if you’re planning on interviewing your own candidates, then it’s something you should gen up on now.

It’s unlikely that employment discrimination legislation will change much in 2018 – if anything, it will get tighter. Have a read of our advice at https://www.4leisurerecruitment.co.uk/blog/2017/05/

Crazy summer season

In the summer, our thoughts again turned to lifeguards. With the annual rise in demand for qualified lifeguards, we discussed why anyone would have any reason to be a lifeguard. In fact, we found more than one good reason. Have a read at https://www.4leisurerecruitment.co.uk/blog/healthandfitness-news/why-would-you-want-to-be-a-lifeguard/

Are you going to need lifeguards in Summer 2018? If so, our best advice is to get in touch with us earlier in the year. In our experience, our lifeguards get booked up quick.

Recruitment scams and schemes

In the autumn, we talked about recruitment scams. They are everywhere and you need to be careful. Even schemes which are not scams could cost you if you don’t know what the deal is. For a run-down of scams, umbrella schemes, and what to watch out for, see https://www.4leisurerecruitment.co.uk/blog/2017/10/

Happy Birthday to us!

This year, we celebrated our 15 year anniversary. We had cake. We may or may not have had a celebratory pint or three. What we did do was grill founders Jean and James on their journey so far. You can read what they had to say at https://www.4leisurerecruitment.co.uk/blog/4leisure-news/4-leisure-recruitment-is-15-years-old/

Prediction for 2018 – we will turn 16 years old. And probably have more beer and cake. Happy Birthday to us!

If 2017 is anything to go by, 2018 is looking to be another year of growth for us. We have a record number of leisure jobs to recruit for – have a look at our website to find the perfect leisure job for you. 

If you’re looking for a new job in 2018, get in touch with us. Please pick up the phone and give us a call, or email us your CV in confidence to info@4LeisureRecruitment.co.uk  

The leisure industry in 2017

As we take a quick look back over the leisure industry in 2016 there has been some huge changes from where we started the year to where it is ending. Thank you to all of those people who have been involved this last twelve months – we very much look forward to spending 2017 with you too!

Leisure trends in 2016 and for 2017

The UK leisure recruitment industry

At 4Leisure Recruitment, we have seen our team grow and are excited about the recruitment industry for 2017. Despite the pinch that the living wage is bringing to many employers, the leisure sector is showing great growth and strength.  It is impossible to ignore the political changes that have taken place in 2016 so it has to be acknowledged that effects on the leisure industry have been felt as part of the global shift in politics.

However, the UK leisure industry seems to have benefited from a lift in the number of people using the services available. The spa industry particularly has seen a boost as people seem to be pampering themselves at home instead of booking holidays abroad. We seem as a nation to be spending more time and money on ourselves which is great for the industry and leisure recruiters alike!

gym industry trends

Record gym membership

In May it was announced that gym and health club memberships had reached a record high. Awareness about personal health, fitness and wellness seems to be ever increasing. At government level plans are a-foot to merge the need to improve the general health of the population as a whole and tapping into the resources of local leisure centres and trying to capture inactive groups which can only lead to more leisure jobs, more gyms and more pools!


uk swimming trends

A dive in the popularity of swimming

However, swimming has seen a dip in the number of folks doing it on a regular basis, with reports that regular swimming participation has seen a drop of around 24%


But it may be that the reasons behind this include the very fact that there are so many other activities on offer that people are not exercising less in the pool, but more everywhere. 2016 has seen 564 new publicly accessible pools open.

We also have not experienced a drop in demand for qualified lifeguards, so it remains to be seen if swimming participation will have a major long-term impact on the leisure industry as a whole.

trends in fitness tech

Leisure tech

One trend we can’t ignore from 2016 is that of ever advancing technology. David Lloyd Leisure has had a major virtual fitness rollout and we predict 2017 will see much more of the same. There is no escaping the explosion of tech in the leisure sector, so don’t try to escape it. If you were one of the millions of users of Pokemon Go earlier this year then you certainly embraced the cultural shift to blending tech and exercise. We predict much more of the same next year and eagerly await the next big release.

Olympics and Paralympics 2016

Major events

2016 has seen the leisure sector grow at a faster rate than retail, possibly helped along by some huge events in the sporting world, including the Olympics and the Paralympics. A truly spectacular event with some brilliant performances both by teams and individuals. In case you missed our earlier blog post about some other sporting events you really don’t want to miss, take a look at where you need to go if you are looking for something to start a training schedule for in the new year. https://www.4leisurerecruitment.co.uk/blog/4leisure-news/five-not-to-be-missed-sporting-events-this-summer/

We very much look forward to seeing the rise of skateboarding next year too as one of the newest additions to the Olympic line up. It will be good to see new facilities and enthusiasts finding a wider platform.

Beauty retail staff

High demand for beauty and spa

2016 has seen us experience high demand for passionate beauty retail staff. It seems that more of us are willing to pay for good quality beauty products and we have been providing retail staff to help customers looking for advice on what to purchase.

The spa industry in general is taking advantage of the demand for beauty products and treatments – in November, Pure Gym launched a membership-style salon concept. We look forward to seeing this roll out further in 2017.


The rise of trampoline parks

Bouncing onward?

Trampoline venues have had a huge rise in popularity in the last 18 months. They seem to be popping up all over the place but the market is already becoming very aggressive with some already starting to close. 2017 is likely to see these businesses striving for diversification in the battle to compete. Some of our clients are already introducing facilities such as climbing walls, laser tag and “ninja warrior” style courses. As they evolve, these will provide more credible venues for the corporate market. There are plenty of businesses now focused keenly on the corporate event market and the ability to provide a full entertainments package with much more comprehensive catering options may be the difference between those that survive and those that don’t.

What else do we envisage 2017 bringing for us – well after some of the events of this year I think it is safe to say next year will be a complete adventure- one we look forward to taking with you.

Leisure Industry Trends for 2016

It’s that time of year again when we look ahead and plan for the future. Being in contact both with leisure operators and employees on a daily basis gives us the privilege of seeing the leisure industry from multiple perspectives. That, teamed up with our crystal ball skills, means we can have a good stab at what is going to be big in leisure in 2016.

Here are our predictions for leisure industry trends in 2016

Leisure Industry Trends for 2016

The end of membership plans?

2015 has been the year of the boutique gym. With the rise of budget offerings from big brands such as Xercise4Less, and the middle-ground being eroded, boutique gyms have filled the demand for more personal and luxury health and fitness facilities. Niche offerings such as cycling studios have popped up all over London and in other major UK cities.

On the back of this, eagle-eyed businesses have introduced pass schemes, giving members access to a wide range of gyms and fitness studios, often at a price much lower than going directly to the club. With access to a greater range of workout options at a cheaper price, pay-as-you-go passes such as those offered by PayAsUGym and ClassPass are a more attractive proposition for busy people who want more variety at a more economical price. It’s not hard to see why these passes are rising in popularity.

Sadly for the operators, it means an erosion in profit margins as they are putting forward the same offering but at a discounted price – and presumably the pass providers are taking a cut too – meaning many boutique leisure facilities are struggling to make a profit at all. While schemes such as these are great at picking up the slack in capacity, much like what the spa sector has been experiencing with deals from group buying schemes such as Groupon, in the long-term the special offers and “loss leaders” need to turn into sustainable custom and profit.

The general consensus from those that we speak to is to participate in long-term reduced membership schemes with caution. An over-reliance on this business model could well end up in a downward spiral where profits are significantly reduced.

It seems clear that these businesses are here to stay as they’re obviously popular with customers. New operators to the market will need to take heed and build their businesses with third-party referrals firmly in mind.

 The rise of the franchise

2016 is set to be a big year for the franchised health and fitness businesses. Inside information suggests that several major operators are about to hit the market in a big way having sat under the radar whilst franchisees waited for suitable property to become available. We expect a huge number of franchised gyms opening in 2016, possibly over 100.

And it’s not just health and fitness. Our visits to spa and beauty trade shows also show a strong trend towards the franchise model with some interesting concepts on the horizon. Watch this space!

The National Living Wage

The National Living Wage paying £7.20 an hour for all employees aged 25 and over becomes statutory in April 2016. This is an extension of the National Minimum Wage, and up to now has been entirely voluntary.

The National Living Wage will mean an increase in pay for many UK leisure industry workers, especially those near the bottom of the wage tier. Rightly, the government do not want to raise wages too high for those aged 18 – 25 as this will stifle employment of those who desperately need the work experience to make any progress at all in their careers. But for those who employ a large number of lower-paid over 25s, the National Living Wage could make a huge difference to company profitability.

It is only right that those who have experience and skills are paid a wage which enables them to live without having to claim in-work benefits in order to pay for a roof over their heads or to feed their families, but this will inevitably put the burden back onto employers. It is expected that jobs will be lost in 2016 because of this but hopes are high for the labour-intensive leisure industry. Until robots can make effective and quick pool rescues, or give a good massage, or deal with nervous and emotional clientele, the human touch is very much required in effective leisure operation.

For employees it may mean better pay but employers will be expecting more for their money. However, it should mean better staff retention and engagement, as wage levels tend towards a standard and the incentive to move for a pay rise reduces. It will certainly be interesting to see what develops in the second quarter of 2016 and beyond.

Olympic (and Brazilian) Fever

August will see the much-anticipated Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Pessimists expect that Olympic fever will be much lower than when London hosted in 2012, and they are probably somewhat correct, but we still expect an interest in niche sports again come the autumn. Who knows what the breakthrough sport will be this year?

The British team are hoping to improve on their impressive medal haul from 2012 but it will be hard to beat previous years’ success in sports such as cycling. Athletics and swimming are tipped to give Team GB their biggest hopes. Expect a flurry of people in the pool trying to butterfly, dive, and synchronise their way to future Olympic glory.

A tennis renaissance?

With the recent success of Britain in the Davis Cup, we fully expect a rise in interest in tennis come the spring. Which leisure operators will be in the best position to offer this in 2016? David Lloyd clubs is the obvious answer, but we also expect a rise in membership of good old fashioned local tennis clubs, and a push in the school sports curriculum to take advantage of any rise in interest from younger participants.

Leisure trends in 2016

2016, like any year in leisure, will be dynamic and interesting. With such close ties to customer demand, the leisure industry will be shaped by how it can best serve its paying customers. What you can be sure of is whatever the future holds for leisure operators, 4Leisure Recruitment will be there to make sure they have the skilled employees that can make all the difference between a profitable business and a floundering one.


Leisure and fitness trends 2015 – our predictions

Leisure and fitness trends 2015

Want to know where the hot leisure jobs will be in 2015? What will be the big leisure industry developments? Well, we don’t know exactly either but being at the coalface of leisure recruitment, we have a good idea as to what will be hot and not next year. These are the leisure and fitness trends to watch in 2015…..

Group cycling

We think that group cycling studios will be big with plenty of new players entering the market. With 2014 seeing the Grand Depart of the Tour De France, and the UK getting behind the Commonwealth Games, it’s not hard to see why the country has reignited its passion for cycling, but the question is will this love affair be more of a short lived fad? To some extent it’s going to be about how fitness providers engage with their market and how to create a successful business model. With the move away from gym-like memberships and towards a more pay-as-you-go structure, the ability to keep people interested in the longer term will be key.

Growth of Parkour.

An activity that has historically been confirmed to empty car parks and back streets has now come to the fore with dedicated academies and venues popping up across London, and businesses like Parkour Generations providing a more commercial approach to this exciting style of recreation. If you fancy getting in on this, there are courses springing up to teach you how to lead others in Parkour.

Wearable tech

It’s all about the tech! There’s been an explosion of fitness technology lately with watches and monitors of varying usefulness emerging to give you feedback on your fitness, health and tell you the time! Surely it won’t be long before the health club operators recognise the revenue potential for these devices. If they can get them integrated into their own fitness systems, they’ll have a very powerful tool for retention as well as secondary spend. We’ve already spoken to a couple of operators who are employing specialists dedicated to exploiting these opportunities.

Stronger focus on leisure professionals

Leisure operators are actually starting to provide a better work/life balance for their employees. For many years it’s been the ironic status quo for people working in the health and fitness sector that they were worked so hard that they were actually far from healthy themselves. Many operators, with a history of micromanagement and aggressive targeting have burned people out much quicker than in other sectors.

We’ve recently seen a positive trend in some of these businesses really investing time into their people to make sure they actually enjoy their work. With unemployment figures low, businesses have to make the effort to make themselves attractive to candidates, and by providing them a better work/life balance, they’re really starting to see some positive returns on their investments. Not only is employment longevity improving but the quality of work also seems to be better. We’re pretty sure that the most successful businesses in the sector in 2015 will be those with a strong people focus.

Spa & Beauty

Will 2015 finally be the year that the sector gets its act together and sorts out the accreditation issue? It’s been going on for a while but the industry leaders really seem to have the impetus to get something resolved at the moment and with businesses like HABIA driving the changes it can’t be too far away now and will surely improve the standards across the sector.

So there we have it – five things we will be keeping an eye on in 2015. What are your leisure and fitness trend predictions for next year?