A fast, reliable and secure Internet connection is probably the most crucial part of an event's success and yet, it is probably the most misunderstood metric. And it isn't becoming an easier. Just like a gallon of coffee is priced differently from city to city and venue to venue, so are Internet charges. But unlike coffee where you can have a pretty good estimation of the amount you need based on the number of attendees at your event, Wi-Fi is much harder to understand.
Here are four ways corporate meeting planners can use to help keep event Wi-Fi costs under control:
Stop Being an Ostrich.
All the things that make good planners great, like negotiating the right amount of F&B and a competitive room block, are now parlayed with the need to negotiate and understand Wi-Fi services. You don't need to be an expert, but it is important that you have the knowledge to ask the right questions of the venue and supplier in order to meet your attendees' needs.
Know Your Bandwidth Needs.
The concept of bandwidth is relatively easy. Think of a pipe pushing something through it. The larger the pipe, the simplier the flow (such as water) and the less pipes coming into the major pipe from different sources, the easier and faster it is for the water to get from Point A to Point B .
Same with bandwidth.The larger the pipe, the less connections to the Internet and the simplier the data packet are all elements of making the transportation of data fast. But this is where you have to be clear and understand exactly what devices your event participants are bringing and how they will use those devices. For example, free Wi-Fi is usually shared among all the venue's guests and if your event attendees are streaming video and connecting mulitple devices to the network, you can see how the system could slow down or even break.
Chances are you will need to rent a Wi-Fi network array especially if your event is large and the data transmission is complex.
Start Your Bandwidth Negotiations Early in Your Planning Process.
Once you know what you need, now you need to put a contract in place. Just like anything else associated with a event -- guest rooms, food and renting audio visual equipment -- this requires time, patience and understanding. Negotiation is just that...going back and forth in order to get what you want at the price point that will work for your budget.
Go with a Wi-Fi Expert.
Many organizations and venues claim to be Wi-Fi experts, but in the end, they really don't have the experience to know what to do with your requirements. Ask probing questions and make certain to obtain referrals highlighting events that are simular to yours. Most important, ask how they will manage the "peaks and valleys" of bandwidth demand.
AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, has been delivering successful Wi-Fi network arrays to events since 2011. They have both the knowledge and equipment to make certain your Internet connection is fast, robust and secure. Check out their Facebook Fan Page for great tips on how to manage your WiFi at events!