What is Wi-Fi?
As defined, Wi-Fi allows the transmission of information through the use of radio waves. Typically the lower the radio wave frequency, the larger the range but in turn lowers the quality of speed. With new advancements in technology, a spike of increased Wi-Fi demand and capabilities has occurred. So much that by 2018, Cisco sees Wi-Fi connections surpassing wired.
Event planners and attendees alike are suffering from this lack of a connection. As stated in a Corbin Ball article, “With hundreds of mobile event apps now available, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity have become the lifeblood of event communications. This has not been without challenges, with hotels and other event venues scrambling to keep up with the exploding demand.” Although venues are working to meet this spike in demand, it’s up to the event planners to select the most appropriate venue for their conference needs.
When deciding a venue, planners face the challenge of figuring out the venue’s ability to provide good quality Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. The amount of Wi-Fi connectivity needed can be determined by the specific needs of your conference and attendees. For example if you have mobile event apps, Wi-Fi connections are going to be very important. But if you’re hosting a nontechnical event, you may not need Wi-Fi to be as accessible to event goers. However, don’t just assume certain users won’t need access. The frustration from an attendee not being able to connect to the internet or to mobile event apps is a tough problem to overcome.
Planners also face the challenge of finding a venue that provides enough Wi-Fi access at an affordable price. To mitigate your total cost, there are a few things as a planner you can do. For starters, select specific areas in the venue to offer Wi-Fi connectivity and direct attendees to these locations when needed. Areas to offer Wi-Fi will depend on the conference, but break areas and other networking places are a good place to consider. You could also limit Wi-Fi access by setting up password protection. As stated, do your best to pick users to grant access to and refrain from excluding anyone that might need to connect to Wi-Fi.
The APEX – Event Bandwidth Estimator online tool can also be used to determine the need for Wi-Fi at your event. Calculations are based on number of users, level of usage, and the use of multiple devices per user. Just enter your information and the estimator will tell you the recommended amount of bandwidth for your conference.
Whether you are working with the venue or a third party provider, always talk to the people providing Wi-Fi directly. It’s important that price and capabilities are clearly outlined before you sign the contract so nothing comes as a surprise the day of the event.
Want more info on Wi-Fi for events? Check out Why Wi-Fi? Part II.