How FitFest smashed its ticket sale goals
In December 2023, the debut edition of FitFest took place at the NEC in Birmingham, welcoming thousands of competitors and fitness enthusiasts to the biggest event of its kind in the UK.
Held across two days, the festival featured an array of the world's leading CrossFit athletes, weightlifters, rowers and functional fitness fans taking part in a series of competitions. It also offered leading brands the chance to showcase the best products and services in the industry, to an audience of fitness devotees.
We spoke with Mark Morgan, longtime fitness events organiser and one of the driving forces behind the FitFest, about the origins of the event and how they worked with FIXR to deliver a hugely successful debut edition.
What's the story behind FitFest?
I've been running fitness events for about seven years. At the start of 2023, my business ATHX merged with another fitness event business called Strength In Depth.
They are very targeted to CrossFit competitors, whereas I was running broader fitness competitions for enthusiasts; basically anyone who goes to the gym.
Together, we created FitFest. As well as being the home of Strength in Depth and ATHX, we also added an event with British Weightlifting and an event with British Rowing to create a festival of fitness.
How many people attended the event? Was it always going to be organised on a big scale?
The target was to get 8,000 people on site across the weekend - we ended up with 10,000.
We had 4,500 competitors (CrossFit athletes, fitness athletes, rowers and weightlifters) and 4,900 spectators, then the rest was made up of staff, volunteers, and vendors.
What was your introduction to FIXR, and why did you choose to use it for this event?
I used FIXR for a white-collar boxing event that ran a few years ago and I really liked the system, particularly how easy it was to use and to work with.
So when we came up with the concept for FitFest and we were looking at a few different systems, FIXR was the one that I recommended to our team. They then had calls with your guys and they were really impressed as well.
What was your experience like using the platform for FitFest?
To be honest, it all just works really well.
FIXR makes it really easy to create an event and set up different ticket types.
It's also easy to create promo codes, and it's really great on reporting. It's just a very simple system to use.
The tickets for competitors were run on separate platforms - British Rowing and British Weightlifting needed a bespoke system for each event - but all spectators, whatever they were there to watch, all went through FIXR which made things really clear and simple.
How did you manage entry to the event?
We used the FIXR Entry Manager for all the access control and ticket scanning, and again we had no problems at all. It worked really well.
As an event organiser, one of your biggest concerns is the flow when people turn up. You want everyone to be able to get in quickly, and you don't want to have massive queues outside.
You don’t want that aspect to let you down. It definitely didn’t. It was very smooth.
Which FIXR features did you find most useful in organising this event?
As an event organiser, being able to see the trends of ticket sales is incredibly beneficial.
The reporting features on the platform are great. The dashboard gives you enough information without being overwhelming. It's very easy for anyone to read, which is really useful.
Although I did become addicted to checking the sales every 10 minutes!
What was your experience of working with the FIXR team?
I found the FIXR team really flexible and receptive to our needs.
For example, we needed unique promo codes to be created because we wanted them to be single-use for competitors to bring a friend as a spectator. Your team were great in terms of doing that quickly, with no issues whatsoever.
How has the response been to the debut edition of FitFest?
Being in events for seven years, I’ve been quite lucky in that most of the time we get positive feedback, but you nearly always get the odd bit of negative.
FitFest is probably the first event where I don't think I've seen one negative comment, from either a competitor a spectator or a vendor, which is amazing.
We’ve still got to do a lot of work and we’ve still got to ensure that the event is better than it was last year. But the signs are very positive.
What are the plans for the future of the event?
The big focus for us, and what we’ll be working on with FIXR, is growing FitFest.
This year, the aim is to get over 15,000 people on site over the weekend.
We're going to do that by adding additional sports and activities while also growing the four that we had.
We're hoping to add a 5k winter run. We're going to add powerlifting, obstacle racing and potentially some strong man. So hopefully we'll end up with eight fitness-related sports and activities that people can take part in or watch.
We also want to grow the number of vendors. We had 48 vendors last year, and we want to try and increase that by 50% if not double it. There’s lots to do before 7th-8th of December, with loads of planning already going on. But the aim is to get 15,000+ people at the NEC over the weekend.
To find out how FIXR can help make your events a success, please get in touch below - we'd love to hear from you!