September 28, 2018

Event WiFi and getting it right

When you set up WiFi for an event, you want to know that it’s going to work perfectly. Unfortunately, even with the venue’s best assurances, there’s no guarantee that everything is going to go according to plan. You can’t do a trial run with all of your attendees present, their wireless devices up and running. You can, however, take a few steps to ensure that you get it right when it comes to setting up the WiFi for your event.

Think About the People Attending Your Event

Who will be attending your event, and what will they be doing while they are there? In today’s society, people expect to have wireless access wherever they go. This is particularly critical at large events where connections are being made, information is being shared with people back at the office, and attendees are showing prior examples of their work, visiting webpages to display information, or doing fast research before making a purchase. If you’re hosting a technology event–for example, a convention dedicated to computer security specialists or a conference about technology in any form–it’s safe to assume that you’re going to need to provide greater bandwidth and more frequent access points.

Take a moment as you’re setting up your event to consider the people who will be there and how they’re going to be using their technology throughout the event. High usage groups may require as much as 8-12 mps per 100 users, while lower-usage groups may come in at more like 2-3 mps per 100. At an event filled with “techies,” you’ll also need to consider the number of devices that will come along with them: many of them may find themselves connecting with their tablets, smart phones, and laptops simultaneously.

Plan Well Ahead

Wireless access for big events is a big moneymaker, and the longer you wait to secure your WiFi, the more expensive it’s going to be. The sooner you start negotiating with potential providers, however, the greater your odds of securing a deal that will work for you. Don’t just assume that your venue will provide adequate internet access, either! Start with the assumption that you’ll need to provide wireless access for your event and that the venue’s existing system won’t be enough to handle your traffic. From there, you can always negotiate.

In your planning, also take into consideration where you want your guests to have wireless access. If you cover every hallway, alcove, and out-of-the-way corner at your event, you’ll watch the price increase quickly. On the other hand, you want to be sure that your guests have WiFi wherever they need it. If it’s not practical to cover the areas where guests will most commonly use their wireless devices, considering offering a specific lounge or hot spot area with wireless access.

Keep It Simple

Even in the most technically sophisticated group of people, there will be someone who has trouble figuring out how to access the WiFi for your event. Make sure that your guests have easy access to step by step information. Also, make it easy for your guests to find your connection. Choose a network name that’s intuitive for guests. A shortened version of the event name, for example, is easy to select from a list of existing connections. If you use passwords, keep them simple, easy to type in, and easy to remember. Make sure this information is posted clearly and conveniently so that your guests will be able to find it when they need it.

Monitor WiFi Usage During the Event

Not only should you check with your provider to see how much data was actually used throughout your event, giving you a great idea of where to start next year, you should also make sure to monitor your guests’ ability to access the WiFi during the event itself. Monitor hashtags associated with your event, watching particularly for #WiFiFAIL associated with the event. Look for frustrated people who are moving around in an attempt to catch the signal. Listen to what attendees have to say about wireless connectivity throughout the event. All of these steps will give you a head start on fixing everything next year.

Setting up the wireless access for your event can be a challenge. By following these steps, however, you greatly increase your odds of success. Your guests will appreciate the effort you’ve put into ensuring that they’re able to stay connected when it matters most to them.