Why Wi-Fi? Conferences, Mobile Apps, & Internet Connectivity

Published by Gina Wentling | Topics: Associations, Conferences, Content Strategy, Mobile Apps

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wifiIt’s no secret that conferences are becoming steeped in technology, from attendees bringing multiple mobile devices to presenters asking the audience to follow them on Twitter. Not only are members toting smartphone and tablets, they’re using the devices more frequently and more extensively than ever before. Checking work email is a given, but now that check-in is accompanied by other activities, like updating a blog, live-tweeting the event, and sharing pictures on Instagram or Facebook.

The need for WiFi at events is clear, but going about securing it can be complicated and expensive. In Associations Now’s article on the topic by Christine Umbrell, several aspects of the issue are discussed, including clear communication with the venue from early in the contract process. The article also addresses how to meet members’ needs while staying within your budget. I highly recommend you give it a read.

As a provider of event websites and mobile event apps, it should come as no surprise that we are biased towards including WiFi in events. That said, we understand that not all associations, and some venues, are not ready to offer internet connectivity. Even if WiFi is available and used, it sometimes falls short of expectations, with inconsistent and cumbersome connections and molasses-in-January-slow downloads.

A mobile event app is a great resource for attendees, but how good is it if you can’t go online? Actually, it’s still pretty great! Omnipress offers a native mobile event app. When your attendees do have WiFi (at their hotel, for example), they can open the app and receive any new data. (This is known as caching.)

Once any updated information is captured, the app can be used offline to access session information, venue maps, speaker bios, and any other included feature. Because most information in an association’s event app is uploaded before the conference begins, this is a viable solution in many cases.

Alternatively, associations can use an event website with responsive design. (Websites with responsive design appear appropriately for the device used to view them, from smartphones to laptops.) If WiFi will be available at your meeting, this can be the smart move. Information published on an event website is indexed by search engines, for example, while the same is not true for mobile apps. An event website will positively impact your Google score, strengthening your association’s brand.

However you wish to deliver event information to your attendees, Omnipress can help you work with—or around—the WiFi issue. Be aware that the tide is turning, though; mobile devices aren’t going away anytime soon. Any attempt your association makes to hold off on providing WiFi is a stop-gap at best. The good news is that venues, while wildly inconsistent in their WiFi offerings at present, will continue to improve their services to meet demands from organizations that use their facilities.

What do you plan to use for your next event? Is WiFi a must for your membership? Please comment below!

 

About Gina Wentling

During her time as Marketing Communications Coordinator (2013-16), Gina wrote hundreds of blog posts for Omnipress. Her work has also been published in association publications. Read More.



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Comments

1.

February 5th, 2014kevin says:

Unfortunately not every venue “gets it” or they have internet barons looking after the wifi to make sure it will be a “you can get better but you cant pay more” experience. Some conference centers and hotels still think its 10 years ago and you can charge thousands for wifi. The smarter hotels know its like Baggage Fees and Southwest airlines. Take the fees away and we will reward you with our conference presence – if not we wont come. The hotels are starting to get it – slowly. The interesting thing is I am in the technology industry so we know what its worth and should cost – if we were doing brick making conferences or insurance sales conferences then maybe we would not know any better but really? What these guys charge is outrageous. have your attendees bring a cradlepoint modem with a cell USB stick.. the conference centers will complain that it interferes with their crummy equipment – well then turn it on and quit your whining. How can Starbucks and McDonalds give us wifi when we are buying a happy meal and a drink and we are spending thousands and you cant afford to give it to us to earn our business? Unfortunately most of the time the wifi is slow and expensive at these gouge places.


2.

February 7th, 2014Bob Hamm says:

Kevin, I have heard the same concern from my clients. They have an issue with the fees being charged for wifi access for their events. This now is an item that needs to be discussed and negotiated as a part of their original agreement.

I really like your comparison of McDonalds and Starbucks. How are they and many other companies able to offer their clients free wifi but venues still feel it is okay to charge for it? Especially when it is often very slow service.

This is yet another reason that our being able to offer tangible products like books, CDs, Flash Drives as well as native apps are in great demand. As the internet connectivity issue are resolved, our expanded online Digital Publishing Platform is ready and willing to assist with the hosting of the educational content for meetings.


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