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Aaron Mirck3/12/19 10:51 AM3 min read

How The Next Web uses data to prevent long queues

The Next Web Conference (TNW) is the biggest tech event in Western Europe. On May 9 and 10, around 17,500 visitors are expected at TNW. This year, the conference will take place at the Amsterdam NDSM Wharf for the first time. Annick van Dijk, Marketing Project Manager at TNW, tells us how the organisation makes clever use of data to attract more visitors and to prevent queues during the event.

People trust The Next Web

The number of visitors of TNW is continuously growing. This is partly because many people buy their tickets (with a discount) once they are on sale, according to founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. “Apparently, people trust TNW and invest time and money without knowing who the speakers will be. Such a reputation is not built overnight.”

Personal tone-of-voice in mailings

Van Dijk explains that TNW has a rich marketing channel: a mailing list with no less than 70,000 people that want to follow TNW. She uses a personal tone-of-voice for this enormous mailing list. “We share ‘honest’ stories about the event. We talk about speakers and the programme elements that excite us. The person that sets up the mail also signs it, and explains why certain content is interesting.”

When composing the emails, the organisation pretends they are having a conversation with friends or family. “You would tell them things that add value. In doing so, we avoid ‘mandatory marketing emails’. We put ourselves in the shoes of the target audience instead.”

In the run-up to and during the event, TNW sends their attendees targeted emails regarding their personal programmes. “We try to make it as easy as possible, by sharing practical and relevant information before the event - e.g. like where to pick up entry wristbands. Visitors can pick them up at various locations in Amsterdam. Because of the large number of international attendees, we even have a stand with wristbands at Schiphol Airport.”

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Making clever use of data

A recent interview shows that TNW still considers itself a startup. This is visible in the way TNW uses marketing: in a clever, data-driven way. “For every mailing campaign, we segment on recipients that opened previous mails or purchased a ticket, to make sure the message is relevant. This way, visitors will never receive redundant information. As a result, our reminders for registering or buying a ticket are very effective.”

After the event, the organisation sends out a thank you mail email to the attendees, followed by a short survey. “Besides the survey answers, we also gather feedback through social media and our visitors chat. We try to use all of that data to improve the event in terms of content, possible queues and valuable meetings.”

Networking and short waiting lines

The Next Web has developed a custom event app. With this app, visitors can register for round table sessions and side events. “The app also facilitates the scheduling of meetings with other visitors. In addition, we made the location network-friendly: you can meet at the food truck, during side events, at the coffee bar or during inspirational sessions. We focus on content and making connections.”

Because visitors download the app, they keep better track of what they are registering for and, according to Van Dijk, visitors are more likely to actually show up for meetings and sessions. “Thanks to this data, we can determine the size of the room, which for example prevents long waiting lines at the after party. When there is more interest in a session during the event and therefore longer queues occur, we use that information for the following edition: we found out that certain topics are popular, even though not everyone registered in advance. Still, we can anticipate this next year.”


Startups want to get everything out of their data. The Next Web is no exception. Whether it concerns sending invitations, preventing long queues, or improving the event, every form of data is used to upgrade the event. As the founder puts is: “All year we strive for an improved next edition.”

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