UK leisure trust is first to publish open data

Here’s a big story you might have missed

I thought something pretty monumental happened on 2nd March 2017.

The headlines on that day included the House of Lords evaluating their Brexit stance, and President Trump making an altogether un-newsworthy speech (it’s lack of newsworthiness is what makes it newsworthy apparently). Brexit and Trump…nothing new there.

But here’s one that didn’t necessarily make the big headlines:

Did you see it?

Maybe not. It happened reasonably quietly, but for us at imin, and for the physical activity sector as whole, it was incredibly important. It’s huge.

I’ll tell you why. This represents the culmination of years of hard work by numerous organisations. It’s the first time this work has penetrated through the surface in a big way, and the first time its effects can actually be felt by those we’re trying to help — everyday people who are looking to be more physically active. Whilst today it might be 5 leisure centres in the London Borough of Newham, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m pleased, and extraordinarily excited, to say that several other major leisure operators are close to following in activeNewham’s footsteps — again, after many months of work by numerous organisations — to open their leisure data. These organisations are opening their data so that we (as a community) can incorporate that data into better and better services that can help to get people more physically active.

But there’s something else to this.

Having the leisure data open is just the first step. At imin, we’ve repeatedly referred back to the vision we started out with — let’s get open leisure data on lots of different online services (to maximise the chances of getting the right activity in front of the right person) but then let’s also make it immediately bookable from that initial point of contact with the consumer. That’s the game-changing step we need.

For too long we’ve settled with using static PDF listings, redirecting consumers to multiple websites, asking them to create user accounts to view availability or complete a purchase, and generally making it quite hard for them to find and book activities. Instead, this is our opportunity to make it as simple as possible. Let’s use the same philosophy from other technically savvy sectors and put the ability to purchase right in front of consumers. Let’s allow potential participants to find and book physical activities from across all the relevant services on the web, from local authority websites, to sports apps, to wellness services.

At imin, we’re already working with a number of leisure operators and other activity providers to make immediate booking of activities a reality from any online service. We eagerly await the first time that imin helps to power a booking from such an online service. Because it won’t just be about getting that one person more active. That first booking will be hugely symbolic — it will tell a story of the whole sector having worked together to make a fundamental shift in the way we deliver services and attract new customers. For the first time, as a sector, we’ll be taking the activities right to the customer, rather than relying on the customer to battle to find the product.

Stories like activeNewham show we’ve laid the foundations towards that first booking. We’ve done the hard early work.

Now it’s time to finish what we started.

To read the full story, click here.