SIBEC EMEA and W3Fit 2023 Roundup

Jon Dickson has been on his travels again! Read on for Jon's overview of his experiences at SIBEC EMEA and W3Fit 2023.
SIBEC EMEA and W3Fit 2023 Roundup

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable period in the EMEA fitness events calendar of late and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to meet, catch up, and celebrate with industry colleagues in equal measure this past few weeks. In this article, I thought I would give a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at exactly where we’ve been and the excellent event programs we’ve been fortunate to be part of in Q3 and going into Q4, 2023. 

26th-29th September: SIBEC EMEA, Sorrento, Italy

SIBEC EMEA is hosted by Club Industry / Questex Events and this year’s event was held in the beautiful Sorrento, Italy. With a view of Mount Vesuvius in the distance, it made for a serene environment for operators and suppliers to talk.

But that wasn’t my only surprise. I was surprised and encouraged by how engaged and open-minded every single club operator was around embracing and embedding Artificial Intelligence into their membership sales and retention processes. 

In previous years at industry events, I’ve generally worked to a 50:50 rule whereby half the operators I met thought AI and automation were some form of mystical art, and the other half were keen to learn more about it.

At SIBEC EMEA 2023, 100% of the operators I spoke to over the week all believed that AI had a place in their business. Many also noted that it was more a matter of when AI was implemented,  not if!

Marjolijn Meijer, CEO of Netherlands-based Urban Gym Group  (owner of Trainmore, Clubsportive, TRIB3, and BTYCLB brands) was among the exceptional keynote speakers at this year’s event. She told an empathic story of the immense journey she and her team had been on to build Urban Gym Group into what it is today.

Catching up with Marjolijn on day two of the program, she took a few moments to share some wisdom with me about how highly she rated “fitness clubs with real soul.” This resonated and reminded me of a great book I read a few years ago called Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller, and the importance of bringing members along for the journey. 

Everything in Marjolijn’s presentation of the brands from their individual messaging, club design, member engagement initiatives, and loyalty programs confirmed what I believed about this operating team. They are constantly thinking about how their customers feel and tell compelling stories to keep them engaged. Something so simple but an art form that eludes a lot of modern businesses in the way they market themselves and their proposition.

Another highlight was exploring the wonderful Sorrento by night as part of our team-building exercise which involved everything from crafting homemade Limoncello, prepping Mozzarella cheese, and some questionable traditional dancing!

10th-13th October: W3Fit by We Work Well, Split, Croatia

The next stop on my European tour was the incredible W3Fit from We Work Well. The host resort this time Le Méridien Lav in Split, Croatia. W3 has already earned quite a reputation, thanks to the brilliant work being done by David Zarb Jenkins and his team. 

So, I was keen to represent Keepme and engage with forward-thinking operators in attendance.

Whether you’re a buyer or supplier, this event does not disappoint. What stood out above everything else with W3Fit was just the immaculate attention to detail. 

Our first team building event, on the evening of registration day, was a group circuit training workout party designed to break the ice and get people connected with zero formality. Then we enjoyed a brilliant program of speed dating style meetings where sociable walks and talks were encouraged if you got fed up with desk meetings. 

This was something you could tell all delegates appreciated and moved conversations beyond the contrived and unnecessary formality when making those all-important first impressions.

During two days of intensive introductory meetings, it felt like the operators had done their homework on who they wanted to meet. 

So much so that I had several delegates opt for a ‘walk-in’ meeting at the Keepme table in their free periods throughout the agenda. It serves as further proof of just how much intrigue there continues to be around the platform we’re building. Not just in member retention, but sales and our generative content creation tool as well.

With a massive turnout of club operator businesses of all shapes and sizes, I was privileged to get to know so many great businesses outside the formal meeting agenda. A night out exploring Split and a classy dinner on the final evening were real highlights.

26th October: ukactive awards 2023, Royal Armouries, Leeds

To round off a brilliant few weeks I was incredibly fortunate to be invited along to the ukactive awards where the very best teams and individuals in the physical activity sector were celebrated for their invaluable contribution to their communities. 

It was great to see Keepme customer, Lampton Leisure pick up the digital transformation award and our friends at Brio Leisure pick up an accolade for all the amazing work that has gone into their Winsford Lifestyle Centre.

I also got the chance to get to know Keepme’s new Chief of Staff, Steffie Bryant, an experienced and respected industry leader in fitness software. I know I speak for the whole team in saying we are delighted to welcome Steffie to the Keepme team. 

So it’s been an exciting period for us with some exciting events, new team members, and customers all joining us in just a short period. 

If you missed Jon at SIBEC or W3Fit, why not book a virtual coffee with him?

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