Wi-Fi is a necessity for the successful running of meetings and events, but it doesn’t come without its own set of problems. Over the years, we’ve supported thousands of events across the globe and know from experience that Wi-Fi capabilities and reliability vary enormously. Last month we partnered with the HBAA and Event Industry News to survey event planners and uncover their frustrations when it comes to Wi-Fi and consider the future of Wi-Fi at events.
You won’t be surprised to hear that slow Wi-Fi speeds for basic tasks, lack of coverage in key event areas and bandwidth issues when delegates connect at the same time were all problems highlighted in the survey.
The survey also revealed 80% of event professionals surveyed want a transparent industry standard that is clear on service levels for Wi-Fi, but until this happens we’ve listed some key questions to ask your venue, to ensure you overcome some of these frustrations and avoid an event technology meltdown at your next event. Make sure you ask these questions in the early planning stages, that way you'll know whether the venue is a no go for your connectivity needs.
Here are our top 5 Wi-Fi questions to ask your venue:
1. How many concurrent connections can the Wi-Fi network hold?
As a minimum, every space you are using at the venue (plenary, breakouts, registration, dining) should be able to hold your required number of concurrent connections. Look at the different areas and consider what delegates will be doing in each, as the number of concurrent connections required may vary between spaces.
For example, if you have an audience that tends to open laptops during meetings, you will need to double the number of connections, i.e. 200 people with laptops = 400 concurrent Wi-Fi connections in the plenary zone (to allow for 1 phone and 1 laptop per person). It’s likely you’ll need less connections in the dining room and breakout areas.
2. How much bandwidth can you dedicate to my event? Is it enough for what I need it to do?
Many venues will state the total amount of bandwidth they have available, sometimes quoting a big sounding number like “we have a 500Mb line”. In this case the bigger the number the better, but it’s important to know what that bandwidth is being used for. Are there other large events at the venue using the same bandwidth? Is the bandwidth also used for the venue back office? Venues can help make your available bandwidth more predictable, find out if they can offer either of the following:
- Guarantee you a minimum “share” or partition of the bandwidth.
- Throttle the amount each user gets to ensure one device doesn’t hog it.
3. How much bandwidth do you need?
It’s very easy to say “it depends” but that’s not very helpful! As a guide, you can comfortably accommodate 5-10 people for every 1Mb of bandwidth for tasks which don’t require an unusually high amount of bandwidth, such as voting and app usage.
4. What can your venue offer in terms of convenience for delegates?
Everyone has had experience of filling out a tedious form before being allowed onto Wi-Fi, only to be bounced off again two hours later. Venues may be able to provide you with your own SSID or Wi-Fi name, stripping away any login or registration procedures and ensuring your delegates stay connected for the duration, however this does vary from one venue to another.
5. Do you have technical on-site support if something goes wrong?
You will need to take a view as to how mission critical Wi-Fi is for you event. If your CEO is doing a live demonstration using Wi-Fi on stage, then paying for a dedicated Wi-Fi engineer onsite may be prudent. Some, but not all venues can provide this.
When the client needs it, we provide our own crew of event technology specialists and take responsibility for delivering the Wi-Fi ourselves. We also offer a detailed Wi-Fi audit of your venue’s Wi-Fi infrastructure and advise on its suitability for your event to give you complete peace of mind.
If Wi-Fi is causing you a serious headache, why not contact one of our event professionals today to discuss your next event. We’re also offering 10% off our event technology and service fees for any events that take place before 31st December*.
The results of the HBAA survey were recently unveiled at a recent 'Future in 15' event. Watch the YouTube video above for the full details. Adam Parry, Event Industry News Editor and Caleb Parker, Future in 15 host discuss their experiences with Wi-Fi and the findings of the survey.
*The discount offered will be based on the technology product required, number of attendees, number of event days and the location of the event. Logistics costs such as accommodation, crew expenses, flights and other transportation and parking fees will not be discounted. This offer is only valid on new enquiries.