Did you know, 80% of events professionals would like to see an industry standard on venue WiFi service and pricing in the year ahead.
According to a survey carried out by the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), more than three-quarters of planners would prefer a consistent and transparent way of understanding the service offering of different venues’ WiFi speeds and capabilities. While 90%, believe the industry would benefit from standardised pricing for WiFi that offers a fair market.
Typical pain points for planners include slow WiFi speeds for basic tasks (65%), lack of coverage in key venue areas (63%), and bandwidth issues when delegates collectively try and connect to the internet at the same time (59%).
Over half of respondents (53%) would be willing to pay for a dedicated network if it would guarantee a set internet speed for their event. While 88% of responses wish to see free delegate WiFi included as part of venue conference packages.
Currently, the most common way that planners learn about a particular venue’s WiFi speed and proficiency is either through the venue making suitable recommendations based on the total number of delegates (61%), or via a specific planner enquiry (44%).
Caleb Parker, Chair of the HBAA’s Technology and Innovation Committee, believes that an industry standard could work in a way similar to that of the star-rating system for hotels.
He says: “When we think of a five-star, four-star or three-star hotel, there’s a clear understanding of what service level you’ll receive. If something similar was in place to communicate WiFi standards, venues could then make their own commercial decisions on what to charge for that particular service star-rating. Currently, there’s too much discrepancy between venues who charge a lot for very little bandwidth and those who offer flexible WiFi packages either free of charge or for a lot less money.”
Speaking to the Hotel-O-Motion podcast in Germany, Parker stressed that part of the problem is that planners aren’t equipped to speak the technical language of WiFi, which prevents them from asking the right questions and understanding the limitations of upload and download speeds or a venue’s free WiFi capabilities for example.
He says: “If a venue offers a certain bandwidth for free, what is the impact of that bandwidth on 50 delegates compared with 1,000 delegates? The average event attendee now carries three devices so 100 delegates will actually require 300 devices connected to WiFi.
“Planners should also analyse, what kind of activity will the venue’s WiFi be able to support? Will it be limited to social media and emails? If there’s an event app, will everyone be able to access it on every device? And if there is an event app, will it require its own private network to ensure better connectivity? These are all questions that event planners should answer before signing a venue contract.”
Other questions that planners should ask include, whether or not a venue’s network capabilities are managed in-house or outsourced?
If additional bandwidth is outsourced, it’s likely to be more expensive and will need to be ordered further in advance, but may result in a faster, more efficient service.
“We have to understand that there’s a basic WiFi standard, whether it’s free or not. The capacity of that basic standard needs differentiating from what’s required for video conferencing or real-time audience interaction with the event app,” Parker concludes.
To help event planners understand your venue’s WiFi capability make sure you provide, not only detailed answers to every question a planner may pose, but also understand how to communicate that information in a coherent way in order to close the gap between WiFi expectations and deliverables in the next decade of this accelerated digital age.
By Mike Fletcher