4 great reasons why people attend conferences

“That glorious vision of doing good is so often the sanguine mirage of so many good minds.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

man on stage at a conference

What is the connection between attending conferences and one of the most appreciated novels ever written? Talking to a friend about Dickens’s novel I realized that I have my own personal story about two cities (better said about the people that live in those two cities). Two cities that, on the same day, will host two great events which Oveit proudly supports. On the 25th of October,  Gary Vaynerchuk and Steve Wozniak, 5500 miles apart, will help thousands of people find the courage to follow their dreams. And being involved in both events made me realize that, no matter the culture we belong to, when it comes to conferences we all have the same reasons for which attend them (and, more or less, the same expectations). In my personal experience, I noticed that people attend conferences for:

The chance of meeting their idols

As kids, most of us have athletes, movie stars or singers as idols. As we grow up and see the world from a different perspective we start to appreciate more the people who invested their time and energy to really make a difference. And some of the today’s leaders are entrepreneurs that influenced the world: Bill Gates, Gary Vaynerchuk, Steve Wozniak, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and many more. It’s reasonable to say that people will go the extra mile to meet their idols, so having a well-known leader on your speakers’ list will generate more interest for your event.

People attend conferences for networking

Conferences offer great networking opportunities, and many attend them just to find themselves surrounded by people with similar interests. A great way to encourage people to attend your conferences is to communicate the demographics of your past audiences (or if this is the first edition to make it clear to whom you address your conference). People hope to meet new customers, partners or even mentors at a conference, so let them know that this is possible.

Event badges will work as “icebreakers” within events, this is why we developed an app that allows #eventprofs print beautiful personalized badges – on the spot!

Hearing new ideas

If you think that the internet is full of new ideas…you’re right. But I can bet that every speaker has some great ideas that he keeps for special occasions, and speaking in front of hundreds (or even thousands) really sounds like special. Not to mention that the emotion of hearing it LIVE from your idol will make it very hard not to apply it; so conferences also work great in those moments when we lack not ideas but the motivation to apply them.

Investing in themselves

The only 100% secure investment is the one made in yourself. Today, more than ever, we live in a world where everything is possible and knowledge can break any barrier. Education offers us the chance of a better life (and the possibility to make the world a better place) and the Internet offers the opportunity of showing the world what we are capable of – with just a few clicks. People attend conferences because they see them as a great investment in themselves and self-investment is the key that will open any closed door. Create your event around powerful new information and your target audience will want to attend it.

These are some of the main reasons for which people attend conferences. But it’s important to remember that the overall experience will determine if people will come to your future events or not.

Apart from some cultural differences (that we all should accept and appreciate) we all want the same things when planning to attend a conference: to buy tickets with fewer clicks (remember that any extra step is a barrier that your possible attendee needs to overcome); to avoid queueing (cashless payments systems based on NFC really changed waiting times at big events; innovation (technology makes it easier for you to engage your attendees, making them feel important and appreciated – which they are); valuable information – the main reason for which people will attend your conference.

Do people STILL buy Museum Tickets?

Last week I had the privilege of attending Vienna Contemporary, a modern art fair with a love for technology. Oveit was a part of the CultTech hackathon and we won the innovation award for cultural institutions ticketing </humblebrag>. By being a part of the hackathon we were able to get insights from one of the largest and most beautiful museums in the world: The Kunsthistorisches Museum, home of one of the most exquisite art collection. Here’s how we’ve found that people still buy museum tickets:

If you’ve visited Vienna but somehow missed the museum, don’t worry, you are not the only one. As we gathered some data we’ve noticed that even though the venue is the third most popular thing to visit in Vienna, its number of reviews were slightly off:

Source: Tripadvisor

Source: Tripadvisor

So what is happening here? Why does KHM have 4 times less reviews than the Schonbrunn Palace?

We did a little digging and found some interesting things. And by a little digging I mean analyzing over 3200 reviews using Natural Language Processing (buzzword for using algorithms to sort through text data – we do a bit of that around here).

Here’s what we found:

People love going to the museum for different reasons. But they do love going to the museum.

We’ve got our first insight when we visited the museum (surprising, right?). There’s no algorithm to express the feeling of seeing people immersed in the works of art. Or children having fun by looking at a statue, a Bruegel painting or a crocodile mummy. Yes, they also have that.

The second clue was when we discussed with Florian Pollack, marketing and communications manager for the museum. He mentioned that many tourists would, unfortunately, miss the museum while visiting the Museum of Modern Art or the Natural History Museum. But those that visited the museum were in fact “overwhelmed and impressed” by what they have discovered.

So we decided to test that. We analyzed the review data and found this: the data showed people loved the museum. Ticket buyers where the best evangelists the museum had. We noticed a 96% positive sentiment among those that reviewed their visit to the museum.

Where are the museum ticket buyers coming from?

We digged through data and noticed that most of the museum visitors that reviewed their visits were not coming from Vienna. They were mostly tourists:


Top three cities that buy museum tickets: London, Vienna, New York. However, the long tail was quite long, we noticed. People came from all around the world and they loved their experience. So what exactly where they more interested in?

What are people most interested in when visiting a museum?

By analyzing the data we noticed some things popping up here and there. In case you are thinking about visiting the museum, here’s what the hot topics are:


Art: people were interested in the art collection, the art works, art history and art gallery. Basically – people are going there for the art.

They were mentioning the audio guide as a great resource and among the most interesting works where the coin collection, old masters works, Gustav Klimt’s work as well as Pieter Bruegel’s.

By the way – here’s one of the museum’s most treasured works of art, the Tower of Babel, a classic painting by Pieter Bruegel:

“Well yeah, but that’s just one museum, what does your data say about others… or maybe you don’t have any?” Yeah, we thought you might say that so we went ahead and studied some other museums you might have heard of:

The Metropolitan Museum in New York

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

These three museums had a combined 68211 reviews so this turned into a bit more than a side project for a blog post.

Here’s what we’ve found, starting with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam :

Visitors to the Rijksmuseum love the Night Watch, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, the gift shop and the coffee shop. Oh, and they want to buy museum tickets online.

The Rijksmuseum hosts more than 8000 works that tell the story of 800 years of Dutch history so visitors’ opinions were quite different. However, some common threads did pop up on our research.

London is again on top of our list of most reviews locations. Number two is Amsterdam, an obvious choice as most visitors are bound to be locals. The third spot: New York, New York. But look at number four and five: Sidney and Melbourne, all the way from Australia. If flying on the other side of the planet is not love of art, I don’t know what it is:


Rijksmuseum visitors love The Night Watch and they love Van Gogh

While studying the reviews we noticed (it was kind of hard to miss it) the most loved item in the museum’s collection: The Night Watch.


Source: Wikipedia

The painting, a work by Rembrandt van Rijn from 1642 is famous for three things:

  • its size (363 cm × 437 cm / 11.91 ft × 14.34 ft)
  • the light and shadows
  • the perception of movement

The work was finished in 1642, when the Dutch Golden Age was at its peak. That’s why you will see “Dutch Golden Age” as one of the hottest topics.

If you wanna get a preview of the painting, before deciding on whether you should visit the museum, the Rijksmuseum has all the info ready for you to preview. Fun fact – you can also see Obama visiting the museum and its most famous painting, in the preview page.

Van Gogh – One of the most famous painters in the world, partly hosted in the Rijksmuseum. Many visitors listed Van Gogh (as well as its close relative “Van Gough” 🙂 ) in their reviews. The reason is one of the most well-known self-portraits:


But these are not the only reasons people buy tickets to museums such as Rijksmuseum. Here are some of the other terms we’ve noticed:

  • art work
  • art museum
  • art lover
  • art gallery

Basically they love art. But they also love some of the other things the museum has to offer, and I might say that The Rijksmuseum is quite an avantgarde museum, building experiences around its works of art. People also come there for the high-quality audio guide, the wonderful gift shop and its coffee shop.

Before they visit they are interested in the entrance fee, buying tickets online and the museum member card. So if you manage a museum – you might take note of this.

PS: the ground floor is THE place to be. Here are the hot topics:


Visitors who buy museum tickets to the Van Gogh Museum = Rijksmuseum visitors. But they are looking at different things.

It’s probably no surprise that people who visit the Van Gogh museum are looking for Van Gogh artworks. But they are also interested in its life story, very interested in the gift shop and disappointed by not finding the “Starry Night” (it’s at the Museum of Modern Art)


Not pictured above: one of the artworks in the Van Gogh Museum 🙂

Visitors are also interested in the gift shop and buying tickets online. So that topic again.

For a more extended interests list have a look below:


PS: get ready for the long lines:


The Metropolitan: visited by New Yorkers, Brits and Aussies. Main point of interest: Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol and the Costume Institute

Unlike the previous museums, most reviews come from New Yorkers. By far:


Hard to see? let’s turn shift the perspective a bit:


As you can see most reviews come from New Yorkers, followed by visitors from London and then Sydney and Melbourne. Apparently, EU visitors are not really interested in visiting The Met, and if they are, they are a bit shy about it.

Regarding the interests, you will find that people who buy museum tickets to the Metropolitan Museum are interested in:

and more:


Regarding the overall feeling, I would say visitors were overwhelmed. Attributes such as great, wonderful and huge were used to describe the museum:


So – that’s the end – four great museums and 65 000 reviews later I can surely say that people do buy museum tickets. Each museum has its own stars and people are attracted to these culture stars. Visitors love to spend time enjoying the museum experience and they want to purchase mementos of these visits. They are interested in buying their tickets online, spending enough time within the museum and enjoying unique works. Oh and by the way: it helps to have a cafe.

AI Events – stats and intelligence on Artificial Intelligence events

We love AI here at Oveit. We see great potential in using Artificial Intelligence to solve real-world problems. That’s why we have set up a special program for AI event organizers (basically free Oveit usage for AI events).

But we went a little further. We wanted to know what makes a great AI event great. So our data science team did a little data digging and here’s what we found:

AI is already a global phenomenon. AI events are popping all over the world

We used Facebook’s events API to search for the most popular AI events and the things we’ve found are astonishing. You would expect AI events to show up in hi-tech areas, and they do. But they also show up in parts of the world where you would really not expect.

For example, the data gathered between the 10th and 14th of September shows the most popular AI event was hosted in Lima, Peru, followed by an event in Vilnius, Lithuania. And this brings us to our …

Top 10 most popular AI events

We selected the most interesting AI events and decided to see which is more popular, in terms of people attending.

Here is our top 10:

10. Artificial Intelligence with McKinsey & Company is presented by McKinsey and NOVA Aarhaus University and features topics such as processing natural language, recognizing patterns, and decision-making.

9. Startup Weekend Artificial Intelligence Mexico City, organized by TechStars’ Startup Weekend community. You will notice that this is not the only Startup Weekend entry in this list which goes to show just how influential TechStars is in the growing AI startups community.

8. The Artificial Intelligence Conference SF, organized by O’Reilly Media. An awesome line up of AI scientists, startup owners, and VC’s. This conference is the perfect mashup of technology, science, and startups, in the best spot on the planet for innovation to develop: San Francisco.

7. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is an event organized by the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge. Yes, you’ve read that right: Study of Existential Risk. The topics are covered by Max Erik Tegmark, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute.

Now, this is where things get really interesting. The Future of Life Institute was co-founded by prof. Max Erik Tegmark. However, the institute lists among its scientific advisory board some well-known people: Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Stuard Russell and yes… that is right: Morgan Freeman and Alan Alda. Definitely worth attending.

6. Bayesian Networks—Artificial Intelligence for Research was an event organized in San Francisco by the great people at BayesiaLab. The free seminar focused on using bayesian networks for aspects where data is scarce. Unlike Deep Learning and other machine learning techniques, bayesian networks can work great with “Small(er) Data”. It seems the event caught the attention of its intended audience: Bioinformaticians, biostatisticians, clinical scientists, computer scientists, data scientists, decision scientists, demographers, ecologists, econometricians, economists, epidemiologists, knowledge managers, management scientists, market researchers, marketing scientists, operations research analysts, policy analysts, predictive modelers, research investigators, risk managers, social scientists, statisticians, plus students and teachers of related fields.

5. Scientific Controversies No. 12: Artificial Intelligence was hosted by Pioneer Works, ‘a cultural center dedicated to experimentation, education, and production across disciplines’, in Brooklyn, US. The topics discussed were machine consciousness, willfulness and whether when such aspects arise would we be able to understand the newly silicon sentient beings. Pioneer Works Director of Sciences Janna Levin invited Yann LeCun, Director of AI research at Facebook and NYU professor, and Max Tegmark, Director of the Future of Life Institute and MIT professor to discuss these topics.

4. Startup Weekend Montreal – Artificial Intelligence – a Startup Weekend / Techstars event that gathers the AI focused community in Montreal. As stated by the event organizers: “Startup Weekend is a 54-hour competition designed to provide an amazing experiential learning opportunity for AI enthusiasts, developers, designers, and business-minded individuals to come together to create a business.”

3. LDN Talks The Future of Artificial Intelligence, hosted by Prof. Nick Jennings, Vice-Provost (Research) and Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Imperial College London. The event tackled the topic of computers and humans working together, especially now as computers are able to manage ever more complex tasks, due to new advancements in AI and hardware.

2. Artificial Intelligence Group Meetup happens in Vilnius, Lithuania and is powered by Rise Vilnius, a tech hub with offices all over the world, together with Baltijos pažangių technologijų institutas. The great guys at Rise Vilnius were kind enough to post a video on this first meetup, for those not able to make it to the meetup:

1: Startup Weekend Artificial Intelligence Lima – a startup event focused on AI, organized by StartupWeekend in Peru, which is itself powered by TechStars, a worldwide network of tech entrepreneurs. More info and registration options on the event can be found on the event’s website.

What are the hottest topics around AI events?

So you’ve seen the hottest events right now. But how about the topics discussed within these events? Well, we did a little more research and searched for the hot buzzwords and the most interesting topics discussed. Here’s what we’ve found:

The most important topics discussed within AI events:

0artificial intelligence60
1machine learning26
2startup weekend26
3knowledge discovery22
4big data13
5networks—artificial intelligence11
6knowledge acquisition11
7software platform11
8knowledge modeling11
9bayesian networks11
10network paradigm11
11expert knowledge modeling11
12digital marketing10
13complex software10
14star trek9
15bridge crew8
16computer science7
17science fiction7
18ibm watson7
19ibm ’7
20deep learning6

And if you want to see the distribution in a graphic format, have a look below:

AI events topics

As for the most popular words, here they are:


We really hope you’ve enjoyed this post and if you find it easier, add a comment below on another type of events you might want to get new insights on.

Do you use email marketing to promote your events? Learn how to increase the open rates.

Remember our article about email marketing and how it can help you increase the number of attendees for your events? Hope you’ve read it. Today I want to talk to you about what you can do to increase the open rate of your emails (in the long-term). We all want to have as many opened email as possible but with over 2.5 million email being sent every second it’s obvious that is harder and harder to gain people’s attention. So, without any further introduction, here are some ideas that will help your emails perform better:

open envelope

Timing will influence the open rates

“…timing is an art”. And fortunately, with email marketing, you can become a real artist.  Email marketing services help you gather relevant information about your subscribers, information that will help you contact them at the right time. Find out their time zones (you can add this into the registration forms, so every subscriber will enter the preferred time zone) and send emails accordingly.  When speaking about open rates you will see that there are some days and some hours that perform slightly better, but I strongly recommend testing to see what works better.


So will do the subject line

Almost half of the email recipients decide if they will open an email or not based solely on its subject line; just like people decide to read articles based on their title.  If you want to increase the conversion rates of your email campaigns (clicks, goals etc), you will have to start with the open rates and to do this you will need to work on your subject lines. How? I gathered I list of the most common ideas:

p.s. The best way to see what works and what doesn’t is to use some A/B testing for subject lines, sending the same email with two different subject lines. Your subscribers will help you out.


Don’t use long subject lines as more than 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices, devices that will cut down the displayed length of the subject line. It’s fine to use shorter subject lines as they just need to provoke the interest of your subscribers. Don’t over-communicate within subject lines, just do your best to make people interested in what’s inside.

Sell the sizzle, not the feature. In other words, you must concentrate on your subscribers, not your products/services. What ‘s important for them and how will you help them achieve what they want? If you plan a conference tell your subscribers what they will learn if they attend (this is what really counts), not that you have a 20 years experience in the event planning industry.

p.s. for example when talking about a cashless payment system (based on NFC technology) we know that the benefits are: less time in queues, no more fraud, increased order value and more…so we don’t start talking to our partners about the communication protocols (until after they see how NFC can help them).


Add a personal touch. Generic email addresses tend to make us lose interest, so try to use your personal email to send information. Although technically speaking you send a newsletter, a no-reply email address will make things difficult for your subscribers that want to get in touch. Take this “risk” of using the email address of a real person and you will see an improvement in the engagement of your subscribers. We use this method here at Oveit and I can confirm that you will see an improvement in no time.


Don’t get spammy. If you search information about ways to improve open rate of your email you will find many great bits of advice from countless professionals. As you probably already know people react to scarcity (it’s one of the six big principles of persuasion from doctor’s Cialdini famous book) and you will find many articles encouraging you to use the ideas of urgency and scarcity to convince people to take action. But be aware that is a very thin line between a great subject line that involves urgency/scarcity and a spammy one. And if you use it (in some cases you must apply it) don’t go “the tabloid way”: LIMITED TIME! OFFER EXPIRES IN X HOURS doesn’t sound like a professional way to announce that your early bird offer will expire, especially if we talk about a premium business conference (and also can trigger some spam filters – read more here).


Offer useful information

Although your subject line is very important because it influences your open rate is what you communicate to your subscribers that will determine their next action: will they respond to your CTA or will they unsubscribe from your marketing list? If you deliver what you promised (and offer useful information about your next events and one-time deals) people will have a reason to open your email (and give you some of their time). If you use spammy or misleading subject lines your subscribers will soon lose interest (not to mention that, in some countries, misleading subject lines are against the law).

Newsletters are a great way to stay close to those interested in your events and convince them to attend. You can share information, promote special offers or ask for feedback. As said before, you are the sole “owner” of your subscribers’ list and this makes it extremely valuable for every event planning organization, no matter its size or budget.