The front lobby is the first impression of your whole facility. As a community rec center, you want to think about how your front lobby design makes current and potential new members feel.
“The front lobby must be designed carefully, taking both aesthetics and flow into consideration,” said Michael Defina, the director of membership sales at the Burbank Community YMCA in Burbank, California. “The front lobby is the first space members and potential members see when they enter the Y, so it is important that the space is presentable, clean, warm and welcoming – the YMCA’s dedication to community should be reflected in its welcome center.”
Visual appeal is not the only factor in affecting how members feel when entering your facility. The way your front desk is placed to conduct flow can positively or negatively alter a visitor’s perception, based on how easily and quickly your staff is able to interact.
“The space needs to be designed in a way that allows traffic to flow in a timely and efficient manner,” said Defina. “All incoming members enter through the welcome center, and front desk staff are expected to confirm active status quickly, but diligently. The aesthetic quality of the lobby should be balanced with the safety and efficiency of operations.”
When considering certain features in your front lobby, think of aspects that reflect what your facility stands for and how you want your members to feel when they visit. This can be as simple as the colors you choose, decorations and the amount of seating your offer.
“Every front lobby should have work stations that seem less ‘transactional’ and more inviting,” elaborated Defina. “There should be seating for members and guests that encourage conversation and community building – decorations in the lobby should reflect your organization’s purpose and ideals.”
While the design of your front lobby is important, not only for new members and retention, the key to simple design basics is to represent what your facility offers. “Our members are often drawn to the Y because of its community feel, so the more we can create a community vibe in our lobby, the more members we can sign up and retain,” said Defina.