. Understanding Your Wireless Needs | Meetings & Conventions

Understanding Your Wireless Needs

How to ensure you have the needed bandwidth for your meeting

After THE event
 Always ask the venue for a recap of bandwidth used, number of users and any other information they can give you that will be useful for your next event. History is important!

 Compile all feedback received from attendees and exhibitors that could relate to network performance. Both positive and negative comments can be used to design future requirements.

The following checklist was created by Pat Swan, global account manager for Atlanta-based ShowNets, LLC. Noting that wireless access is something every show organizer needs but few understand, former event planner Swan offers tips for its use on-site.

 Know your requirements before you talk to a venue or managing vendor. Consider all of the space you're using and the needs in each room. Don't omit any relevant space.

 Are your attendees device heavy? Many now carry two or three devices and use wireless for all of them. This is important information for your venue/vendor.

 Consider last year's complaints as information that can help your current venue/vendor understand your needs.

 What do your attendees do on the wireless network? Do they primarily check email, or do they engage in a lot of downloading/uploading? If the latter, you'll likely need more bandwidth.

 Will you have an app in use? If so, send it out in advance of the show and encourage attendees to download it before they arrive. If everyone tries to download on-site at once, say, at registration, you run the risk of overload and might have problems with the app.

 Are you doing any polling during your events? Share the details with your venue/vendor with respect to room location and frequency.

 Include Internet needs on your speaker questionnaires. Ask if they will use the Internet in any form (wireless or hardline) and, if so, what they will be doing.

 Avoid surprises. For example, tell your Internet staff in advance if you plan to give every attendee a gift device that they all are likely to turn on at once. Your staff must know of such potential heavy use to plan correctly -- or advise against it if the available network cannot handle such a load.

 Monitor your hashtag and respond to Internet issues.

 Check your bandwidth in different locations during the event and record your findings; verify that it's what you ordered. Use online tools such as speedtest.net.

 Give attendees a place to go if they have issues. Create an Internet Help Desk, or be sure you can send them to the registration desk to find help  

 A tip we often give: Know that wireless cannot travel through water; think of people as water. If you're in a crowded area and are having connection problems, move to a less crowded area.

 Post tips (or provide a handout at registration) on what attendees should do if they can't connect, such as the following.

 For smartphones:
 - Turn your device on and off.
 - In the Wi-Fi settings, instruct the device to forget the network and then re-connect.
 - Turn your Wi-Fi off for 15 seconds, then turn it back on.
 - Know if you have a 2.4 or 5.0 GHz device; if you have 2.4, consider upgrading.

 For problems with computers:
 - Manage your network settings by removing networks you don't use anymore; this forces your computer to find them again, which serves to refresh the settings.
 - Quit all applications (to start clean) and turn off or restart.
 - Try using a different web browser than you typically use (e.g., Chrome instead of Internet Explorer). The login site might perform better with some browsers than others.