January 22, 2017

Improve your event Wi-Fi planning without becoming a tech guru. Identify your event’s Wi-Fi audiences and their critical needs to get off to a great start.

Event success depends on effective event Wi-Fi planning to satisfy demand for bandwidth-hungry apps, streaming video, and Wi-Fi-consuming connections. Robust Wi-Fi helps presenters achieve maximum audience impact. Wi-Fi fuels the activities exhibitors and sponsors engage in to generate their event ROI, while attendees count on Wi-Fi connections to maintain productivity out of the office. All three groups expect a steady stream of Wi-Fi whenever and wherever they need it.

Below we take a closer look at these three Wi-Fi audiences, and how you can avoid the pitfalls each presents at your next trade show, conference, or meeting.

Event attendees using Wi-Fi

Understand attendee demographics

Conference attendees expect to multi-task. They balance event activities with keeping up on work and personal communications. They check and respond to email, send files, surf the web, access servers and databases, and more.  Attendees feel entitled to instant internet connection at a minimum in all main and common areas.

Attendees’ first glimpse of a sub-optimal Wi-Fi plan may come at registration. Whether using a proprietary system or multi-function software from a company like Cvent, Lanyon, or eTouchsmooth registration requires robust, high-density Wi-Fi. A bad Wi-Fi experience when trying to buy a ticket or check in damages an event’s reputation right from the start. No one wants the first tweet of their event to be #WiFiFail.

Event exhibitor's using Wi-Fi

Integrate exhibitor intentions

Exhibitors showcase products and collect attendee contact info for their lead database. Flashy product demos and presentations pack exhibit booths with attendees, then marketing staff collects and uploads attendee data via lead retrieval scanners. Smooth operations depend on good Wi-Fi planning to provide reliable and speedy service.

When Wi-Fi access points overload in a busy exhibit hall, connections start to drop. On the other hand, installing too many access points creates WiFi interference. In either case if exhibit hall Wi-Fi is poorly planned, exhibitors end up with glitchy presentations or a slow-to-load video stream that pushes visitors away. With event ROI measured by the number of contacts collected, a strategic exhibit hall Wi-Fi plan is a must for exhibitors.

Keynote presentation over Wi-Fi

Meet peak demands

Keynotes and breakout speakers create the magic that draws crowds to your event, but without effective Wi-Fi planning to meet bandwidth needs today’s best presentations are left hanging. Live streaming video, real-time audience downloads, or audience participation via mobile apps; any of these can push an unprepared Wi-Fi infrastructure to its limits.

Incorporate speaker intentions into your Wi-Fi planning from the start. Use the information to predict and calculate peak Wi-Fi loads. Keynotes in particular can push an event’s bandwidth to its limit. Anticipating speaker-driven content and connections allows you to prepare for peaks and avoid maxing out your network.

Wi-Fi network planning

Anticipate and plan for Wi-Fi all your needs 

These best practices in event Wi-Fi planning will help you get started:

  • Start early and plan ahead. If you forecast WI-Fi needs early in your planning, you’ll have more time and budget to prepare adequate, reliable coverage.
  • Talk to your venue and ask questions. Find out internet usage patterns for the venue in advance.  Streamline check-in and mobile access. Identify areas with poor Wi-Fi coverage, especially in breakout rooms, and plan for them.
  • Consider coverage. Make sure your event Wi-Fi plan can supply the amount of bandwidth users will consume. For instance, attendees at a tech event may expect greater data transfer capability than attendees at a sales meeting.

Learn more about succeeding with event Wi-Fi planning in Shiloh’s 5 Tips to Improve Event Wi-FI.

What challenges do you face with event Wi-Fi planning this year?

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