Top Venue Site Visit Tips For Meeting Planners - Part 2 Wi-Fi

The use of smart phones and tablets at conferences has exploded. Thousands of devices gobbling up every bit of bandwidth possible, slowing down traffic to a crawl.

Attendees become frustrated and exhibitor demos become useless. Your event mobile app doesn’t work. The social media campaign you had hoped to integrate is a bust, and attendees leave because it hinders their productivity.

As addressed in Part 1 of this post, a thorough venue site visit is key to the success of your conference. We addressed accessibility, power and rigging then. In this post we are concentrating on Wi-Fi.

So, how do you prevent Wi-Fi gridlock? Simple, you develop a detailed needs assessment, discover resources and implement a plan.

STEP 1

Take a in-depth look at your event and venue. Where will you need Internet access? The registration desk? Keynote session? Exhibit hall? Breakout rooms?

How does the venue deliver service to these areas? Is it Wi-Fi or Ethernet drops?  Are there separate networks? What is the overall capacity? More on all this in step 3.

Will you require a separate network for event staff and attendees? Exhibitors and attendees?

STEP 2:

Determine who will need access in each area. Is it the staff, speakers and exhibitors only? Attendees en masse?

Do you know your attendees? Do they bring smart phones, tablets and laptops?

Are you sharing your program and materials digitally? If so, a larger number of attendees will access this information on their devices. 

Are you live streaming your event?

Is your event App network dependent or is it a native App that does not require Internet access?

Are there peak times? Certain rooms may require more bandwidth than others? Will presenters be streaming video? Will you use Skype or other online communication tool?

How will you support access? Will you staff a helpdesk for attendees with access challenges?

Is there onsite technical support or can you call someone if you need help? Will you need the helpdesk staffed by a network engineer?

STEP 3

Can the venue provide you with a coverage map? How many access points are there? What is the capacity of the network switches?

How many users can access each access point and at what speed?

What is the quality of the Wi-Fi signal in each room?

Are there separate networks available?

Are there redundancies in place in case the network goes down?

IMPORTANT

For events during which Internet access plays an integral part we recommend that you bring in an outside professional to evaluate the capabilities of the venue.  It is an investment worth making. Your event’s reputation may be at stake. 

Our next venue site visit tips post will address safety, security and staffing.