Your Essential Wi-Fi Checklist: How to Make Sure Your In-Person and Virtual Events Don’t Lag
It’s hard to overstate the importance of thoroughly planning out your event’s Wi-Fi capability. While we don’t know when large in-person events will resume, some smaller in-person events are starting to take place this summer. And we think that hybrid and virtual events are here to stay — which means that ensuring your event has high quality, reliable internet speed and connectivity is super important. A lot goes into ensuring that your event’s Wi-Fi options are up to speed (pun intended). To that end, we’ve created a checklist to help you ensure that you cover your Wi-Fi bases when planning your event.
Determine your event’s Wi-Fi needs.
This one may seem sort of obvious, but it’s more nuanced that you may think at first glance. There are lots of factors to consider with this. First, you’ll need to think about your event’s production needs regarding the amount of people relying on the Wi-Fi. Will your lighting crews, videography professionals, or other operations associates need access to reliable internet as they work? The answer is likely yes. In addition, you’ll need to consider the number of attendees you’re expecting. If your event is set to have 500 people, your Wi-Fi needs will certainly be different than if you are planning on 50 people. Pro tip: we think it’s reasonable to expect that each attendee is likely to be using two devices. They may use their phone as well as a MacBook Pro or iPad, so it’s best to account for that in your tally.
Once you’ve determined a rough number of Wi-Fi users, it’s also important to consider how they’ll be utilizing it. If the event isn’t super tech-heavy, that’s one thing. If, on the other hand, you have an event app or platform, engaging software like polls and surveys, need participants to download event materials, or plan to use Wi-Fi for streaming, you’re looking at a whole different ballgame. In this instance, you’ll need more bandwidth to ensure that things run smoothly.
Get to know the event venue.
We recommend touring the venue multiple times so that you can consider some strategy. Since you don’t want to overpay for Wi-Fi you don’t need, determining the venue’s unique layout and strengths and weaknesses (in addition to your event’s scale, type, and expected number attendees) should help you determine the best Wi-Fi budget.
If your event is outdoors, it may require an entirely different Wi-Fi setup than if it were indoors. You’ll need to take note of the existing Wi-Fi connectivity at the venue. How strong is the area’s cellular signal? Ask the venue’s operations staff about how well the venue’s Wi-Fi handles events with larger groups of people. If they “include” Wi-Fi in the booking, specify who has access to it and how much bandwidth you’ll receive. If they’re expecting you to run all operations on without enough bandwidth, you’ll likely need to supplement. It’s best to know that up front. Note if the venue is in a place that accesses 5G Wi-Fi. If it doesn’t, consider renting it.
Additionally, pay attention to how your event will be laid out. For example, if you plan to have a keynote speaker in a larger auditorium, you may want a higher bandwidth for that space. If you know that people won’t linger much in the hallway outside, you could potentially save in that space. A professional can help you determine where you’ll need your strongest signal and where to strategically place access points. They should also be able to tell if there are items that might obstruct your signal (like overly thick walls) before you find this out the hard way while the event itself is taking place. In short, establish your event’s logistical plan and then make sure your Wi-Fi is set up to effectively meet your users’ and planners’ needs.
Create smooth Wi-Fi access opportunities.
We’ve all been there: looking around a room or shuffling through papers in an attempt to locate the Wi-Fi password. As an event planner, you want to avoid this unnecessary distraction. You (of course) want to make sure your event is secure with encrypted, password protected Wi-Fi. But for your event attendees, you want to make it as easy as possible to sign into it. We recommend using a safe, original password — but one that doesn’t have a ton of confusing, hard-to-read symbols that make it difficult for attendees to connect.
To that end, be sure to clearly tell your participants how to access your Wi-Fi. Send it out in your welcome email, have it printed on your welcome brochure, make sure that it’s posted in every room in numerous easy-to-spot places, add it the beginning of each presentation or slideshow. In short: don’t make your attendees have to search for it. This is distracting and time-wasting.
Do your Wi-Fi research.
Wi-Fi connectivity can be confusing, but it’s arguably the most important part of your event nowadays. Now that virtual events are becoming the norm, production for larger-scale events looks more professional than ever. Most large-scale events utilize lighting crews, professional videographers, and more. The production quality can sometimes look like that of a television or film. All of this relies on Wi-Fi.
If you’re outsourcing your internet, make sure that you choose a company who will help you if you encounter any issues during your planning stage or during the event. Choose a company that has high-quality equipment and will ensure that it’s customized and set up in the exact way that you need it. Ensure that your Wi-Fi team works closely with your production staff, event planners, and operations directors so that everyone is on the same page. Don’t overspend if it’s unnecessary — but be sure you check you have the right amount of bandwidth with this calculator needed for your event. In this instance, we think it’s better to be overprepared than worried you’ll experience a bogged-down network.
Consider the details and plan for future events.
Think about creating a landing page for when your attendees successfully log onto your event’s Wi-Fi. You might have pertinent event information there, but you can also use that space for sponsorship opportunities. This is an easy way to generate some revenue and relay information to your participants. If you’re using event planning software or creating a unique app for your event, this option may be included.
Also, pay attention to your bandwidth usage throughout the event. How many devices were logged onto your network? Did you have plenty of bandwidth? Not enough? The answers to these questions can help you and your team determine how much to purchase in the future and how to better allocate your Wi-Fi budget during your next event. While each event may be different from the last, what you learn from each one you host will help you plan accordingly for a successful Wi-Fi setup moving forward. And, as always, the team at eTech is here to help with any of your Wi-Fi questions, too.
About eTech Rentals
eTech Rentals a national technology solutions provider located in Southern California specializing in rental technology integration. eTech is committed to long-standing client relationships and consistent, reliable local service, trusted by expert event planners, film and entertainment production companies, and businesses in California and nationwide.
Learn more about eTech Rentals at: https://www.etechrentals.com/