More than three quarters (80 per cent) of hospitality and events professionals want a transparent industry standard that is clear on service levels for Wi-Fi. Nearly all (90%). believe that the industry would benefit from standardised pricing for Wi-Fi that offers a fair market.
These are among the key findings of a survey of HBAA members and the events industry at large with the HBAA, working in partnership with eventindustrynews.com and Crystal Interactive, on the evolving nature of event Wi-Fi and how venues can provide greater flexibility in service demands and transparency in pricing. The results were recently unveiled at the latest Future in 15 Show event, held at the Barbican in London.
Typical pain points for meeting planners include slow Wi-Fi speeds for basic tasks (65%), lack of coverage in key event areas (63%) and bandwidth issues when delegated collectively try and connect at the same time (59%).
Over half (53%), would be willing to pay for dedicated speed for an event, with 66% separately paying for a dedicated Wi-Fi name and password in the past 12 months.
88% of responses wish to see free delegate Wi-Fi included as part of the conference package. The most common way to research Wi-Fi availability at a venue was either through venues making suitable recommendations based on the total number of delegates (61%), or with an event organiser enquiring (44%). Delegates being able to check emails was the commonly listed use for Wi-Fi at events, with over 80% saying it was the main reason. Real-time audience interaction via an app placed second with 74%, while allowing event teams to check emails and content for the show with.
The survey results prompted a lively debate amongst the audience. Addressing the issue of reduced service speeds when overwhelmed, one participant suggested throttling the bandwidth to limit online access. However, all agreed that this approached needs to be communicated in advance to the event planner as early as possible.
Proving a unique perspective, one audience member declared that he prefers to use 4G encrypted mobile data only to prevent any potential intrusions. He then advised that venues which offer Wi-Fi should have a series of protocols firmly implemented to prevent data breaches. These should include bulletproof firewalls, continual infrastructure remapping as well an in-house specialist to rapidly handle security breaches, combined with external 24/7 troubleshooting processes.
Summing up the results, Adam Parry, Editor of eventindustrynews.com says ‘Wi-Fi is here to stay, the first thing we try to do when arriving at a venue is to log on to the internet. This is now clearly reflected in business decisions, with event organisers refusing to book a venue if the Wi-Fi is not first class.”
“Unfortunately, there still remains a disparity between expectation and standard. Agents and venues are all in agreement that there needs to be a global industry standard on pricing and servicing. Included should be buyer transparency regarding their service requirements and transparency with venues regarding their technology capabilities. Tonight marks the start of the conversation.”
Caleb Parker, Tech and Innovation Chair at HBAA and Host of The Future in 15 Show commented “This is just the beginning of an important industry-wide discussion. Wi-Fi is like oxygen to event participants but providing the right level of service at the right price isn’t a simple one-size fits all solution. I hope this spurs our industry’s experts to share their thoughts in a public forum either online or at future events like this one. We’ll continue the discussion on 7 November at Event Tech Live.”