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Need Internet for Your Meeting? Here is What You Need to Know
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 20:31

Avoid surprise invoices after the event and difficult conversations by arming yourself with some of the latest tips from industry experts on buying WiFi or wired internet for your meeting. Meeting planners may rely a little too much on their technology partners to guide them down the right path. You could be overpaying the hotel tens of thousands of dollars! Discover the right questions to ask, understand the latest terminology, and ensure your budget includes enough resources to make your meeting a success.

From PCMA Convening Leaders in January 2014, “Do You Know What You Need to Know about High Speed Internet Access?” and another training on Internet Connectivity offered by James Spellos, here are some recommendations for overcoming challenges with meetings related internet access. Let’s review the fundamentals gleaned from these two sessions and help you focus your planning and budget for success.

  1. There are two Bandwidth Types.
    • Shared environment: Usually free WiFi
    • Dedicated for your meeting: using virtual partitions
  2. Digital Density (or the number of devices): Personal WiFi or Mi-fi devices such as those sold by cellular phone companies, cell phones in general but especially Apple products which are “always transmitting”, wireless routers throughout the venue or neighboring businesses, etc. can all cause wireless interference and may restrict your available wireless signal / networks.
  3. Wireless Interference- How to prevent it? Ask meeting attendees to turn off devices while not in use (but you can’t really control that). To be safe make sure all presentations are hosted on a wired connection or spend a little more to rent a dedicated signal for your meeting (minimally the staff, speakers and exhibitors who rely on internet to conduct business if you can’t afford to host the entire audience). 

Planning Tips

  1. In your online registration form, ask attendees what devices attendees are bringing withThis will help you gauge how much bandwidth you need and help your plan for deploying new technology now or in the future like a conference mobile app.
  2. Consult with your mobile app provider to see how much bandwidth is required to power it, and plan on peak usage during the opening general session. Be sure your network can support this many users at one time.
  3. Before you even book the venue, perform a speed test during the site inspection in various locations throughout the venue your attendees may be accessing the internet, especially if you are paying for a specific amount of bandwidth. 
  4. Immediately after the event, be sure to obtain usage information from the facility. The technology team definitely has this information it’s just a question of getting to the right employee/vendor for the information. Use this data to build a history of bandwidth usage for your event. Let the facility know up front you will be collecting this information by putting the request in your contract, specifically what reports you want and when you want them.
  5. Investigate the facility’s access points. One access point in a ballroom means the people/exhibitors in the corners probably don’t get the signal since the signal is sent in a circle. Multiple access points in the room mean the circles overlap and everyone should be covered unless you have a high demand area like a press/media room in which case we recommend wired or dedicated again. Investigate : Quantity, Location, Generation.
  6. Consider pricing internet based on consumption. You will need your meeting’s usage history to determine if this is better or worse for your budget. Most venues collect this data but purge it after the event within a few days or weeks. So ask for this data up front: How much bandwidth was used and when was your peak usage?

So then, what’s it going to cost me?  You pay for what you get!

  1. Free is not necessarily better when it comes to internet. Free WiFi in a hotel is often shared between all public areas/guests. Often meeting room signals are shared with the Hotel SalesAt this time, our industry does not reflect any consistency in price therefore be sure you are comparing apples to apples in your proposals (per connection vs. amount of bandwidth).
  2. Ask the proposed venue: who manages the bandwidth, how big is the pipeline, how is it divided within the hotel, and how many concurrent IP requests can you handle at any given point? If they can only handle a portion of your expected audience you will likely need to bring in your own bandwidth from a local ISP which might be more expensive.
  3. Make sure your guests (or you) are not being charged per device. The average user has 2-3 devices with them these days.

 

 

Sources:

PCMA Convening Leaders in January 2014: “Do You Know What You Need to Know about High Speed Internet Access? By MaryAnne Bobrow, Michael Owen, and John Rissi.

The Ultimate Meeting Professionals Guide to Internet Connectivity, By James Spellos, The Meeting-U

 
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No Room at the Inn: A Meeting Logistics Lesson for All
Thursday, 05 December 2013 18:34

Have you ever been told by a hotel or convention center – “There’s no room at the inn!”? During the final planning stages of a recent conference the team at Special D Events was preparing  a very large number of attendee giveaway items for shipment. Potentially there would be several dozen boxes being shipped from all types of suppliers to the event venue. However, the venue was not set up to store or manage this many boxes, so we were left to come up with a packaging and shipping solution and ensure everything still arrived in time for the event.

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Taking Care of the Customer – Making Sure All Attendees Feel Welcome
Tuesday, 15 October 2013 13:21

This month we are working with Sheetz, a new client in the convenience restaurant industry. At the onset of planning, our staff spent ample time reflecting on the company’s strong culture of customer service when considering how to welcome attendees to the meeting. This corporate culture is evidenced by the pride their employees take in their company, communities, and food quality. As a conference or meeting planner it is our jobs to make guests feel comfortable, especially first-time attendees and international guests. We wanted to share some of the ways Special D Events helps create a hospitable environment for our clients’ guests.

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Mobile Apps - What you need to know about going mobile
Monday, 26 August 2013 14:55

 “There’s an app for that” – you’ve probably heard this phrase more times then you care to remember these days. People are using their smartphones for just about everything - email, games, financial management, finding recipes, online shopping, you name it. The mobile trend has carried over to the meeting and event world as well. Mobile apps are gaining popularity with both event planners and attendees alike. Here are a few tips for utilizing a mobile application for your next event:

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5 Votes

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Our Newest Employee Shares her Event Planning "Nuggets" of Knowledge
Friday, 01 February 2013 00:11

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Erin Fontana and I am excited to join the Special D Events family.  As a young professional, I have had my share of ups and downs as I have navigated the first few years of my career. There are lessons I’ve learned the hard way and others that I have graciously been spared by the timely advice of my colleagues, friends, and family members. I would like to share a couple of “nuggets” that I’ve gleaned from the past few years.

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12 Votes

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Event Pet Peeves
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 17:27

Pearl Jam has a song lyric that has always resonated with me: "if you hate something, don't you do it too?"

The answer is a resounding yes! Admittedly, I have no patience for slow people. Whether it be dawdling drivers or the half asleep cashier at Target ringing me up, I simply don't have time to wait for them. Except, that is, on those days when I'm moving at the pace of a snail. Then I don't understand why everyone is in such a hurry?

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11 Votes

3 Comments

Custom Corporate Gift Ideas
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 16:49

With the holidays quickly approaching many companies are looking for employee gift ideas.  Here are two interesting examples I arranged for a client this year in honor of its 100th anniversary.

For the first gift, we created a custom Monopoly board game customized with the client’s colors, logos and even the metal game tokens. The corporation is a large architecture firm and each of the properties on the board represented office locations. Not only was the board game a great gift, but working with USAopoly to create this one-of-a-kind gift was seamless.  We were provided with a detailed timeline based on when we needed to have the games delivered. We participated in weekly conference calls with the designer and project manager which made the whole process quick and easy.

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16 Votes

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Say What? Working with clients from other cultures and countries
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 17:21

 First off, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brooke Jakobsen, and yes, my last name is foreign. My husband hails from Denmark, hence the odd spelling. I have been a freelance planner at Special D Events for the past year and a half, and am happy to brag that I have a job that I actually love. It gives me an outlet to express creativity and to travel the world. It also comes with its challenges. Such as dealing with clients from all over the world.

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7 Votes

1 Comment

Budget Shortcuts
Monday, 24 September 2012 16:47

Being an event planner is a great profession. It is the perfect balance of left and right brain—creativity and business. Once you become an event planner there is, however, no turning back. Oh sure, you can quit your job and take on a new role somewhere else but that doesn’t mean your brain will be able to overlook a poorly laid out room or inadequate sound. You will never go to another wedding, tradeshow or even party without thinking things like, “I can’t believe there aren’t more high top tables for people to put their drinks down” or “How can they serve alcohol without so much as a crumb to nibble on?” It is a blessing and a curse, indeed.

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12 Votes

5 Comments

The Experience of a Lifetime
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 13:51

“Thanks again to all of you for an experience that Kelly, Elizabeth and I will remember for a lifetime!”

That written feedback from one of our recent event attendees was music to our client’s ears. It came from the VP of Manufacturing for a Fortune 100 company that was a key customer of our transportation industry client. We arranged for this client to host 130 of its top customers at the US Open in San Francisco, and it was a smashing success.

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13 Votes

2 Comments

Floating Away
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 16:50

Did you know there is a currently a national helium shortage? Scientists are predicting the American helium reserve may run out by 2018, possibly 2020 if we are lucky. To read more about why this is happening check out this recent article by Popular Mechanics>>.

So, what does this helium shortage mean for event planners? In short, it means we deflate to the bottom of the priority list when it comes to doling out the second most abundant element on Earth. Helium is used mostly in the science and technology industries. It is essential for hospitals and a key player in space exploration. All of the sudden, using balloons for décor and directional markers doesn’t quite seem as inspired as it once was.

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13 Votes

3 Comments

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