Venues need to get 2.0

A few events I have managed over the years  stick in mind as those nightmare events, where you wished the ground would just swallow you up and take you away to a peaceful, moaning-delegate-free, problem-free, perfect world………….with bad-ass broadband that can handle 800 delegates all accessing the wireless network at the same time.

Yes, we really do wish.

As an event manager working for an organisation whose strapline is ‘Innovation in the use of ICT for education and research’, events 2.0 are fairly standard for us now. We livestream sessions, have event tags, aggregated feeds, event blogs and live blogging etc etc etc…

So it’s all good and very exciting plus I love working with the team on coming up with new ways to involve web 2.0 technology into live events, to continually enhance the delegate experience.

What I don’t love however, is venues who claim to be all-singing all-dancing and state of the art having spent a whole wodge of cash on nice leather furniture for the foyer or those trendy ergonomic seats, but install the lamest broadband you could ever imagine, wack in a wireless network and then put ‘High-speed wifi available’ on their website. Time to start banging head repeatedly against the wall whilst biting your pencil. This issue, has become the thorn in my side, the bane of my life, the pain in my *$%*. Sorry folks, it’s another ranty blog post!

Event 2.o in a venue 1.0 – it ain’t happenin’ folks.

How the hell are we event organisers supposed to create events for delegates who these days expect nothing less than an all-out web 2.0 shindig when they skip through the door to collect their name badge iPhone in one hand and laptop in the other, when venues just are not delivering the goods with the internet?

I am not afraid to say that hotels for me are the major culprits. I realise that for them its all about the beds but if they sell meeting and conference space and advertise wifi, then it must be nothing less than super-quick and super-effiicient – otherwise, why bother? Don’t even get me started on the fact that in many venues you still have to pay to use the internet……..

I am getting of tired of seeing tweets such as ‘wifi is rubbish’ – ‘is anyone else having trouble with wifi?’ – ‘if you go to the third floor and stand by the  coffee machine in the foyer you can get wifi signal’ at events.

Many dedicated conference centres have woken up and smelt the coffee, realising that if they don’t pull up their wifi socks, they will lose business. Bravo and well done. We embrace you. Hotels on the other hand always have the beds to bring in the profits, so don’t seem to care that much. Boo.

If you want decent broadband, then get yourself down to an academic venue. Broadband and wifi are bountiful, at speeds that hotels can only dream of getting their hands on. There are some brilliant facilities out there at Universities and Colleges around the country, many now with dedicated conference facilities, providing year-round availability. You also can rest easy that the profits that most of the conference offices make at academic institutions then get pumped back into the institution. Brilliant.

To save me from a world of pain, I have now introduced a set of standard questions that I ping over to possible venues about their internet, and if they can’t answer any of them…then I wave bye-bye. To me, there is no excuse for a venue having a broadband speed less than what I get at home. There can be no compromise. If Event Manager’s stopped compromsing on the internet provision, venues would start putting in decent broadband.

These are the simple questions that I send to venues. (simple to you and me, but alarmingly difficult to answer for some venues). If you are livestreaming and expecting all delegates to blog and tweet from the event, then you need to know before you even bother to go to see the venue, what their internet capabilities are:

  1. What is the internet bandwidth?
  2. What bandwidth can you guarantee my event?
  3. What is the guaranteed upload speed?
  4. What is the guaranteed download speed?
  5. Is there wireless access in every room/area that we are using for the event?

For livestreaming you will need dedicated uploads speeds of minimum 512kbs or more (and if a venue can’t guarantee that, then run, run for your life!!). NOTE that the upload speed may not be the general bandwidth that the venue states it can provide as more often than not it will actually be the download speed, so be specific about upload speed. Ideally you will also need a connection that is not shared with the delegates’ connection/wireless access point.

As a rule of thumb, I tend to work on the basis that a 200 delegate conference will require as a minimum 2mbs feed, for you to even consider doing anything vaguely web 2.0.You would be amazed how many venues cannot guarantee that.

So, get tough folks and don’t compromise. We want events 2.0 at venues 2.0.

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2 thoughts on “Venues need to get 2.0

  1. well said Ms Porter…seems to me that more and more the most important questions for event venues (especially in our geek bit of the universe) is wireless and power and so few venues get either of them right. It will soon be moans about the wifi replacing complaints about the food or heat as the number one item on the feedback forms!

  2. Brilliant, wonderful to find an organiser who get’s it !

    I have been banging the gong about poor connectivity at venues for years, great blog post. Take a look at our website – http://www.maxwifi.co.uk just in case you ever want to choose a venue you like instead of one that has the Internet you need.

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