CWA Launches Collective Marketing Campaign to Save Gyms

CWA Inside Voices campaign to save gyms
Photos by Becca Manners, courtesy of Climbing Wall Association

The industry’s trade association, the Climbing Wall Association (CWA), announced yesterday the launch of a new initiative to support climbing gyms during the pandemic. The collective marketing campaign aims to “cultivate support from industry partners and community ambassadors to help ease the financial threat climbing gyms are facing,” according to a CWA press release.

Called “Inside Voices,” the campaign calls on both gyms and brands to “bolster support for struggling climbing gym businesses” among their consumer bases. According to figures cited in the press release, zero outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported among 10 million estimated visits to North American climbing gyms in 2020. But due to primarily capacity restrictions and low consumer confidence, one in four climbing gyms responding to the CWA’s December survey question may permanently close in the next year.

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“The industry has risen to the challenge of figuring out strategies to operate safely within the restrictions of COVID. But getting their members and the public to see that and want to come back to the gym is a hurdle because there is so much fear,” said Laura Allured, the CWA’s Marketing & Communications Manager.

The announcement also noted the financial impact of the pandemic on climbing gym employees. Even as climbing gyms have retained 15 percent more of their staff than the average U.S. small business, more than 50 percent of gyms are seeing less than 50 percent of their normal revenue and may be hard pressed to continue doing so.

“It’s not as turnkey of an investment as people might think. Through the pandemic, the majority of gyms have only been able to reduce their fixed costs by about 20 percent. Fixed costs are the things you have almost zero control over: rent, payroll, utilities, insurance costs, etc.” said Garnet Moore, the CWA’s Director of Operations.

Gyms and brands can register to participate in the Inside Voices campaign on the CWA website. After registering, participants will receive a 6-week campaign kit which includes social media posts and graphics, email templates, press releases, posters and schedules. Registration will continue through March 22, and the consumer-facing campaign will begin on March 23.

Stay tuned to CBJ for more CWA and other industry updates.