Woman diving through the pool
Woman diving through the pool
Picture by Lars H Knudsen via Pexels

Sports facilities such as swimming pools are considered part of the social services of general interest and fulfil preventive health tasks. This is why public sports facilities are often in municipal hands. The city often owns these facilities and operates them itself or through companies in which it is the main or co-owner. However, the operation of these facilities is not always profitable. Many municipal swimming pools are subsidised in order to maintain them for the citizens.

In view of the tight municipal budgets, it is essential to maximise the utilisation of sports facilities. The best way to achieve this is to know the target group of the facilities and develop offers tailored to these groups. This should be reviewed and adapted again and again in order to recognise and respond to changes in usage patterns.


Swimmers at the edge of the pool.
Swimmers at the edge of the pool.
Picture by cottonbro via Pexels.

Your municipal swimming hall is generally well used. School classes have swimming lessons there in the mornings and the local swimming club regularly uses the hall for training or competition purposes. Senior citizens and sauna users also use the hall. However, outside of these established usage patterns, there are times when the pool is not used. During these times, no income is generated, while fixed costs such as heating and water cleaning continue. These are, however, urgently needed for the profitable operation of the hall.

Your task is to increase the utilisation of the swimming hall. Think about how the offers of the swimming hall and its opening hours can be better adapted to the target group. The first step is to get to know your target group better. Who currently uses the hall and for what purpose? Then determine the needs of the respective target groups and find out which changed or new offers you can provide so that the hall is used even more frequently.

Get in touch with the users of your sports facilities and find out what they want and expect, adapt your offers accordingly and reach new target groups.


Do you know your users?

First of all, look at the users of the swimming pool. Which groups of people do you currently welcome? What distinguishes them? What do they have in common? What do they value? For this purpose, carry out a target group analysis.

If you know exactly who your target group is, you can also create the best possible offers for them. One option to get to know your target group better is to first carry out a market segmentation. Here, you divide your users into different groups in order to be able to target them more specifically with your offers. The four overarching criteria for market segmentation (demographics, geography, psychographics and behaviour) can be used to derive countless market segments that can be further broken down and regrouped. Learn more about this classification in the article Types of Market Segmentation and carry out a market segmentation yourself.

Do you know what your users want?

You now know different user groups of your swimming hall with their characteristics. The next step is to find out what reasons these groups have for using the swimming pool, what they want and what you can do to attract them to your swimming pool more often. To do this, conduct a survey. Besides the important information you get, you also show the users that you value them and their opinion.

Not sure what to ask? Sit down in a team and think together about which topics you want to find out more about. On the one hand you can ask about current usage and check your service, on the other hand you can find out about interest in new courses or sports, adjusted opening hours or combined tickets. Watch the video Step-by-step guide to an effective user survey and learn more about setting up a survey.

The aim is to find out by means of a survey what works well, where there is potential for improvement and which offers can intensify the use even more.



Using the example of a municipal swimming pool, we have shown how you can focus more on user wishes in order to achieve a better utilisation of the hall. Because only if the swimming pool also fulfils the wishes of the citizens will it last as a well-used - and if possible profitable - leisure facility. Of course, you can also apply the measures shown to any other facility.

The methods shown are part of classic marketing strategies for products. Think of your indoor swimming pool or leisure facility as a product. Be attractive for users, present your strengths and optimise your offer to be used permanently.


Learning Objectives

  • Users are aware of the challenge of financing public sports facilities in institutional hands and know ways to define user groups and identify potentials.


  • What are some of the resourcing challenges to maintain amenities and run cultural services?
  • Who is using your amenities and why (and even more important why not)?


  • How can I improve the use of for a community pool or community sports club (football pitches and other amenities)?
  • How can I reach users to get their opinion on services?


  • How do I become active making the most of leisure and recreation in my city?


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Step-by-step guide to create an effective user research survey | Sarah Doody, UX Designer