A Wi-Fi Primer for Event Organizers
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Wi-Fi networks at events are becoming more crowded by the minute, and the result is like rush hour in Manhattan: everyone’s moving a little bit, nobody’s going very fast, and everyone’s frustrated. With the explosion of smart phones and tablets, it’s not uncommon to see attendees using two Wi-Fi-enabled devices at the same time. Attendee and exhibitor expectations for connectivity have never been higher. Unreliable or slow Wi-Fi can cause people to leave an event in search of an Internet connection, cripple an exhibitor demo or disrupt your own attempts at viral marketing.
With a little bit of education and planning, you can be prepared to have a productive conversation with your venue about your Wi-Fi and Internet needs. Here are four simple steps:
1. Start with your event’s floor plan.
- Where do you require Internet access? Do all breakout rooms require Wi-Fi? What about the exhibit hall floor?
- How will you provide Internet access in each area? For how many people? Will you use a combination of wired Ethernet drops and Wi-Fi?
2. Determine the needs of your stakeholders.
- Will the network be open to attendees and exhibitors? Will there be a separate network for speakers and staff?
- What types of devices will your attendees bring to the event (smart phones, laptops, tablets)?
- What types of content will they consume on these devices (voice, video, social media, email, mobile event apps)?
3. Determine usage needs according to your program schedule.
- Are there peak usage times when everyone will be accessing the network (during a keynote speech or tech training session)?
- Do session rooms require extra bandwidth? Will presenters be streaming video?
- Are you producing this as a hybrid digital event for which you need to stream certain sessions?
4. Define your on-site support requirements.
- What level of support will you offer attendees, speakers and exhibitors if they have issues connecting to the network?
- Is there telephone technical support? Do you require a help desk staffed by a network engineer?
Excerpted from permission from the white paper, “How to Discuss Your Event’s Wi-Fi Needs: A Primer for Event Organizers,” published by Ian Framson, CEO, Trade Show Internet.The Full White Paper can be downloaded here.
Ian Framson has 10 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive and investor in software, security and Internet companies. In 2008, Ian co-founded Trade Show Internet, an independent supplier of Internet connectivity to the event industry. Prior to co-founding TSI, he spent 5 years as a co-founder of Reach Systems, a security software provider.