The Next Web (TNW) conference is an annual gathering of some of the world’s brightest in tech and media in Amsterdam. Behind the remarkable range of industry-leading speakers, this conference numbering in the tens of thousands is driven by a contingent of volunteers.
This year, TNW chose to use Soon, our scheduling tool for the mission-critical process of organising this few-hundred-strong volunteer team, who help make the conference run smoothly.
Looking for a partner
With such an extensive event to plan, TNW was looking for a strong partner who would also be invested in their success than just a software provider. Soon stood out to TNW after initial meetings, with our proactive hands-on approach in discussions and comprehensive support offered.
"Throughout the process, we worked as one team with TNW, regarding their success as closely as our own."
From streamlining processes to providing meaningful insights, we are always striving towards the next degree of excellence.
Together with TNW, we analyzed and examined the specific requirements in TNW’s processes from scheduling to communication.
Unique conference, unique needs
Unlike a typical company or teams, TNW was only working with volunteers in this one-off instance. This meant a need for quicker onboarding and learning of Soon than the typical discovery flow designed for a long-term user.
Since the conference also only takes place over 2 days, with an additional 2 days of pre-event activity, volunteers needed to be efficiently directed to view that week upon logging in. This is different from the default view which shows the current week.
Volunteers were also invited to pick up types of responsibilities (shifts) for each day of the conference, to give maximum freedom of choice. However, they should only be able to select one shift per day to ensure TNW has all their bases covered.
Understanding these from Arlette, TNW’s event manager, special onboarding messages were created in Soon to guide TNW volunteers to the available positions and worked closely with the TNW team when questions from volunteers rolled in.
It is the integral reason for a smooth implementation and that set Soon clearly apart from others.
A more accessible, dependable and collaborative way to schedule
With their clear and intentional information design structure, Soon's system allowed TNW to dextrously organise their 350 non-staff volunteers. TNW gained time and energy that could then be spent elsewhere creating a delightful conference and volunteer experience.
Creating and communicating the schedule
- Headstart with Open Shifts – Weeks before the first volunteer signed up, Arlette created each of the 60 shifts needed to run the conference without having to assign anyone. These varied from “Airport registration”, “Badge check - media lounge” to “Stage ushers” and “TV studio assistant”.
- Devil in the details – Within each shift, TNW could specify descriptions, time, date and roles needed. This created a clear reference point that volunteers could come back to anytime.
- Smart scheduling – For each role, Soon lets TNW define the upper and lower limits, and automatically makes sure no shifts get overbooked. Soon's availability insights also ensures volunteer don't accidentally join double shifts.
- Autonomy – TNW could either invite the volunteers to the team by adding their emails or share the invitation link. Volunteers then could pick up shifts with open roles which appealed most to them.
- Like magic – With all information detailed for shifts in Soon, it minimized repetitive questions for The Next Web team, who could sit back and watch the shifts fill up in a short time.
Staying on top of changes
- Real-time advantage – Everything is online - no more risk of outdated information or confusion over conflicting versions. Volunteers are notified of shift updates immediately so everyone is on the same page.
- Overview and awareness – Event managers could focus and act quickly with Soon's shift statuses. With a clear overview of shifts that still needed to be filled or had issues requiring their attention (e.g. cancellation requests, or insufficent availability left to fill shifts), TNW could zero in and solve in a timely fashion.
Communicating according to shifts
- Keeping it together – Shift-specific chat system allows for clear communication and dialogue between TNW and volunteers in the right place.
- Laser focus – This keeps discussion highly relevant to respective shifts, so volunteers only get what they need.
"Soon has saved me in total about 500 individual emails. I could address people in a single shift with all the info they need, and target only the people I actually needed to inform, instead of manually contacting them over and over."
The next success story
Soon is borne of our belief and commitment to “make better experiences”. We have vast experience with customer support centres, web care teams, order desks and now, one of the greatest tech conferences to date.
We are always looking for new opportunities to make a true impact. Do you work at, or run a forward thinking company and want to level up your team experience through the way you are scheduling and managing your workforce? Let’s talk!