Web Summit is an annual technology conference held in Lisbon, Portugal. When it started in 2009, Web Summit was held in Dublin, Ireland. In 2016, it moved to Lisbon. This year from November 1 to 4, 71,003 people showed up, along with 2,296 startups, 342 partners, and more than 2,000 members of the media.

What does Web Summit offer?

The Web Summit describes itself as "the world's largest technology conference." Many people all over the world recognize the name and understand the promises made by the brand. Their marketing team is fantastic, and they've got lots of experience under their belts from working in the industry for several years. In their advertising, they highlight these benefits.

  • Being a part of the world's largest technology event (showing up)
  • Global brand partnerships (Registered and valid event worldwide)
  • C-level Speakers  (Learning opportunities)
  • Connects investors and startups (Investment opportunity)
  • Networking opportunities (I can sell my product or service)
  • A small business trip to Lisbon/Europe (Great if your company pays the expenses)
  • Perks from sponsors (Just a plus)

When you buy an event ticket, you naturally expect the brand to keep its promises. Let me now discuss the Web Summit experience.

So, how was Web Summit?

You can view a map of the event location below. The following is a snapshot from within it. The map clearly shows the main stage as well as the five pavilions housing the fifteen smaller conference stages. The total area of the event is over 200,000 square meters, and the only way to get between the various stages and pavilions is on foot.

Across the globe, you can find enormous structures like that. Increasing the size of an airport or hospital beyond a certain point causes them to become inefficient. This event is one example of it. There is a 15-minute time commitment if you want to walk from the main stage to Pavilion 5 to catch a different speech. Is there a way to estimate how long it would take to go to all of the partner booths (342 of them) or all of the startup booths (2,296)? Every time you turn around, you have to go for another walk. All in all, that pretty much sums up my day.

  • Walk, walk, walk… (from metro to event area)
  • Wait in line for security control (45-90 minutes)
  • Walk, walk, walk…
  • Attend a speech
  • Walk, walk, walk…
  • Meet with some startups
  • Walk, walk, walk…
  • Wait for food (20-25 minutes)
  • Walk, walk, walk…
  • Visit some partner stands
  • Walk, walk, walk…
  • Meet with some startups
  • Walk, walk, walk…
  • Attend a speech
  • Walk, walk, walk…
  • Visit some partner stands
  • Walk, walk, walk… (to the metro)
  • Wait for metro tickets (40-60 minutes) (only for day 1)

Even with three days to talk to as many people as possible, I only managed to reach around 100. After a long day of standing in lines and walking around, I collapsed into bed. I assure you, I was not alone. Check out these tweets where people are expressing their frustration with the wait time in lines. Nearly fifty thousand people showed up every day, and the average wait time for a manual security check was one hour. Aside from the five lines, there was also no x-ray body scanner. They made everyone wait for hours in the pouring rain.

The torment continued even if you just wanted to take a break for a bite to eat, a cup of coffee, or the restroom. Waiting in line was a constant experience. This gathering ought to be renamed Line Summit 2023 for next year.

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