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This article was published on November 3, 2016

How to keep 10,000 people happy

How to keep 10,000 people happy
Brian de Graft
Story by

Brian de Graft

Junior Marketer

Brian is a Junior Marketer on The Next Web’s Events team. He writes articles and social media posts for our conferences, plus other text-rel Brian is a Junior Marketer on The Next Web’s Events team. He writes articles and social media posts for our conferences, plus other text-related bits and bobs.

Over the years, TNW Conference Europe has grown from a niche event, catering to a few hundred insiders, to a festival-like tech extravaganza, hosting 10,000 tech enthusiasts in May 2016.

Though the location stayed the same, the amount of conference attendees almost tripled from 2015 to 2016 (including the side events and parties, a staggering 24,000 visitors were recorded!). This meant a lot more work logistically.

How did we not only keep so many people happy, but end up winning the “best European conference of 2016” award?

Here are three important points:

1. Give the people what they paid for

Let’s start with the obvious: One of the main reasons to attend a conference is to be among the first to hear the best in your field deliver inspiring talks about the newest industry trends and developments; indispensable knowledge to take away and apply to your own business.

And at TNW Conference – from Amazon’s CTO to Zipcar’s Co-founder – we invite true tech authorities; just take a look at our upcoming and past speakers.

Secondly, people come to network. Our business floor provided the perfect space for startups to showcase their next game-changers to clients, press and investors, and the meeting spaces enabled new partnerships to be made and deals to be closed. And with our networking app with LinkedIn integration, connecting with attendees and companies was one click away.

Quick, queue-less registration at TNW Europe with Azavista’s service.

2. Convenience is King.

Make things easy for attendees. For example, no one likes hard to access places in the middle of nowhere. For the last six editions, TNW Europe has been at Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek: a collection of beautiful old factory buildings situated in a gorgeous, centrally located park. It couldn’t be easier to call an Uber and get to the location from a nearby hotel or the city’s Airport.

And then there’s the waiting. Time is money, and with 10,000 attending your event, long queues to get in are the last thing you want. That’s why we’re so happy to have found Azavista, a complete solution for all our registration needs.

One of the issues with the registration service we used for our previous conferences was that they were pretty inconvenient: attendees’ passes first had to be printed onto stickers, and then stuck onto badges.

Azavista integrated seamlessly with our CRM and a ticketing solution, which not only gave us a 360 view of ticket-holders and check-ins, but also meant we could print badges as a whole with little friction. Within seconds of a visitor telling us their name, the right badge was around their neck. Good thing we’re using the service for our upcoming conference, TNW NYC!


To add to this efficiency, Azavista‘s software also allowed us to run pre-registration (without risking duplication) at lots of badge-claim locations across the city, including Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and central train station, the popular Hotel V, and Amsterdam’s old theatre, The Stadsschouwburg. Many visitors had their badge in hand minutes after setting foot in Amsterdam – easy peasy!

Of course, things like enough clean toilets, trash disposals and easy access to food and drinks are also essential, which brings us to our last point:

3. Go the extra mile.

It’s one thing to make an event good, but making it memorable is a different story. At TNW Europe we constantly try to one-up ourselves when it comes to what we offer our attendees – this year, we wanted a tech festival.

We’ve always invested a lot of money in show production and experience design. This year’s main stage was powered by the same media server that U2, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers use for their worldwide tours. Our main stage boasted a 9×9 meter full LED screen, and our two 7×9 meter semi-opaque LED side screens created the impression you were looking at a hologram of our speakers.

Three years ago, we pioneered the use of food trucks at a technology conference, but this we wanted to take it one step further. To really give it that festival feeling we created three food courts of 500m² each, partnered with local seafood restaurant Mossel & Gin, and called in the help of The Food Line-up to curate the best food trucks to produce a line-up of food and drinks that would rival that of the speakers.

In addition, we hired professional baristas to serve specialty coffees, invited a group of artists that dressed up like dinosaurs and added a variety of amazing music acts to the program.

Add a Hack Battle, workshops, a street BBQ, and epic parties, and you’ve got yourself an unforgettable event.

Want to experience one of our conferences first hand? Join us in New York or Amsterdam!

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