I’m spending two days in the Sahara, back to basics. Just 14 of my best buddies, a few camels (thanks for carrying our bags) and nature in its purest form – ice cold during the night, super hot during the day. An amazing experience, I can recommend it to everybody.

While wandering around from one sand hill to another you have a lot of time to think and chat about life, work, friends, and yes even the brilliant model of Tinder comes up in conversations.

We’ve known each other from university, and every five years we go on a(n unforgettable) trip. Spending a couple of days in the desert with friends who aren’t ‘in tech’ is refreshing. For instance, it can’t hurt to see that there are normal (very successful) people out there that don’t give a shit about Twitter, that have never heard of Snapchat, don’t have a clue how online companies make money and still think that Google is just a search engine.

It makes you think and rethink the things you have been doing.

desert3 730x356 Rethink

It got me thinking on how we at TNW can do things differently, how we can improve our services, events, coverage, our relationships and friendships. In this post I’ll stick to just events.

We have been organizing TNW conferences for eight consecutive years with great success. Each year we’ve managed to improve our conferences, to test new things, new tools. Over the past few years we have been nominated for awards in the events industry and the King of the Netherlands hung out for three hours at this year’s conference, which is all kind of crazy for people who had never even attended a business event before starting their own one, and who had no clue what it would take to organize an event. Basically it came down to us doing whatever we thought we should do to make it cool, fun and worthwhile attending.

That worked like a charm. I dare to say that the TNW conference is amongst the world’s leading tech events (check also the infographic at the end of the post). It has great content, always looks stunning and has its own charm, its own feel and vibe, something which has proved to be very difficult to copy.

How do we improve on something like this that has been so successful for many years? The answer; Rethink everything and build on the success, voice and vibe that already has been established.

The default is: change

For TNW Conference Europe this means that we’re introducing new speaker formats, new ways for early stage startups to connect with customers, press and investors, new competitions for the hottest European tech companies, better ways to connect to make sure you spend your time as effective as possible (while having a great time) and all packed in fresh and gorgeous design.

Basically we’re changing almost everything, all tools are reconsidered, new tools introduced, and we’ve never been more confident that it will be the best edition so far.

It’s not size that matters

We’ve asked a lot of people on the scene if the size (of an event) matters. We’ve asked if bigger is always better. It appeared not to be the case. TNW Europe has been sold out for the last four consecutive years (last year the max capacity was 2000) and has always had an intimate feeling. Not too small – after all, you are attending to meet interesting people and do business – and not too big – you still want to be able to find and talk to the people who are of interest to you and your business.

We have decided not to go as big as possible, but to keep it manageable for everyone involved. For 2014 we have room for 2,500 great minds from the industry (young, old -but still young at heart-, entrepreneurs, developers, investors, social media teams, marketing wonders, investors and leaders).

Driving down the price

In 2006 a ticket to the conference was €550 (excluding sales tax) for a one day (and compared to the 2013 event, it was a pretty crappy) event. Now, eight years later, the price for a TNW Conference Europe ticket is €530 and this is a two-day event. If you take the inflation into account, we have lowered the price by 21% while doubling the length of the event, have ten times as many speakers and a production level that is an order of magnitude better. That’s not even mentioning the networking tools, special apps, parties, drinks… well you get the point here. Better events at a lower price, that’s how we roll.

Hopefully we inspire other events as well, so the overall quality of tech events goes up while the price comes down.

2014 will be a great year, we will continue to improve and are looking forward to meet you in April in Amsterdam (or August in São Paulo, or October in New York).

I can recommend everybody to take a couple of days off and leave your connected devices at home. Just bring some of your best friends along and talk about life, love and your business. It’s refreshing.

Happy New Year

TNW infographic