Oliver Richardson, director of DB Systems, says if there’s one thing that connects all successful events, it’s good Wi-Fi.
If I had a magic formula to predict the success of an event, I would probably be very rich. The fact is, there are multiple elements at work and there isn’t a single factor. But, if there’s one thing that successful events do have in common - and we’ve seen this time and time again - it’s good Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi has become as essential as toilets, catering and electricity at events. Gone are the days where it’s a nice to have, or an additional luxury.
Today’s event visitors expect to be able to get online whilst out of the office and indeed, if they can’t, they won’t stay long. Those events that have good connectivity enjoy increased dwell time and happy exhibitors and visitors – assuming that is, that they’ve got the all-important visitor bit right too!
With this in mind, it’s astonishing how many venues and hotels have invested only half-heartedly in connectivity, resulting in a tick-in-the box for free Wi-Fi and yet failing to deliver an adequate service. Sometimes the bandwidth is shared across multiple rooms and concurrent activities in one room can hinder connectivity in another.
At other times the bandwidth simply isn’t sufficient for the number of people trying to access it, or the access points are fixed in places which result in weak signals in some areas of the venue. Even some of the big exhibition spaces and the European Messes are falling behind the times with a lack of investment in robust, reliable, upscalable connectivity.
But the fault doesn’t just lie with venues, many agencies and organisers simply don’t understand the questions that need to be asked, or the level of bandwidth which might be required or the sheer volume of devices that need to be catered to (hint: it’s more than double the number of delegates).
Conference Producers have been known to use the Wi-Fi to try and stream a live video or accommodate a remote participant, not appreciating that a hard-wired connection for such activity is always the best option.
The other big challenge is that organisers have, historically, been reluctant to invest. How many organisers have a dedicated budget line for connectivity? It’s often a cost that is only really considered as an event draws nearer, and it becomes apparent that the app commissioned by the marketing team will need networking to be able to operate effectively.
We need to move our thinking forward so that it’s as natural for organisers to budget for connectivity as it is for electricity and catering. In real terms, the cost to organisers is actually pretty minimal and often at zero, since costs can be spread across the whole community of exhibitors.
The fact is, the frustration of exhibitors and visitors when faced with unreliable connectivity is a real show-killer. So, take the easier option – do your due diligence on the connectivity you’re being provided with, and if it’s insufficient to meet your needs, you know where to find us!