11 of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Free, easy to access Wi-Fi is increasing expected by meeting planners

This is the eleventh in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows:

11. Free, easy to access Wi-Fi is increasing expected by meeting planners

Free basic Wi-Fi broadband internet access is expected by planners for attendees in the meeting room, guest rooms and the lobby. Although some luxury properties are clinging to internet fees as a profit center, internet access is viewed by attendees as a utility similar to lights and water. Planners are saying “do not nickel-and-dime us with add-on charges for basic internet access.” If “Motel 6” can provide free Wi-Fi, so should meeting hotels and venues.

However, the does not mean unlimited access. Internet bandwidth can be expensive and most venues cannot handle unexpected, very large demands.  If 500 event attendees pulled out their iPads to access HD video simultaneously, there are few venues in the country that could handle this without making special arrangements. If a group needs dedicated bandwidth, a dedicated IP address or other internet services, it is reasonable to charge for these. But basic, throttled access (with a minimum of 500kb/second download — fast enough to access email and limited video streaming) should be free.

Additionally, venues need to make logging onto the Wi-Fi network easier. Opening the browser and clicking “OK” is all that should be required.  As mobile devices are being used for internet access with greater frequency, make the logon screen readable in smaller formats as well. Better yet, use autosensing technology and provide a mobile web log-in page optimized for a smaller screen.

See more on the advances of hotel guest room technology at: http://ow.ly/6kJqx.

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One Response to “11 of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Free, easy to access Wi-Fi is increasing expected by meeting planners”

  1. Meeting Fairy Says:

    Very good point on wifi access. Now, this isnot going to turn around quickly.
    Architecture issues: A lot of the convention centers were built as fortresses, so now wifi access points are difficult to execute.
    Heavy investment: For a trade center, the wifi infrastructure alone can run from 500K to a lot more than that – not inexpensive technology.
    When talking to the infrastructure managers that try to keep the capital costs down while maintaining competitiveness, this is one of the wicked issues.
    Security: The other issue to consider is security of the wifi network. Everyone expects open access – with all the manageability complexity of the firewall and scanning.

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