05 Jun 2013

In the first of a two-part blog, Jay Goldson Head of DB Event Networks, providers of Wi-Fi and internet services to the event industry, looks at the factors to consider when getting your event Wi-Fi sponsored.

As the availability of Wi-Fi becomes increasingly expected at events, organisers are turning to sponsors to help with the costs, so that they can offer free Wi-Fi to all their visitors or at least provide some kind of Wi-Fi capabilities at the event. However, there are a number of factors to consider before adding Wi-Fi provision to your list of sponsorship opportunities. Here’s our quick-start guide to getting it right:

1. Venue

First up, if your event is at a permanent venue with Wi-Fi infrastructure you need to question whether the Wi-Fi system is available for branding and tailored service levels as this won’t automatically be the case. Most of the larger venues provide site-wide connectivity which is great, but this can make it difficult for them to provide branding opportunities if there is more than one event taking place at the same time. There are often ways around this of course, but you need to have a conversation with the venue to determine what’s possible, so make this your first port of call.

2. Reliability of WiFi provision

Another key consideration is whether the Wi-Fi provision available is of sufficient quality and reliability that your visitors will have a good experience and your sponsor will not be disappointed. The value in associating a brand with a service can quickly have the opposite effect if the service isn’t up to scratch. You need to be 100 per cent confident that the WiFi infrastructure and the demands likely to be placed on it are compatible, and that the right support is in place to deal with any difficulties. You need to be confident you have ordered sufficient connectivity for your event. Also, ask the venue or your provider for examples of previous similar events and look for endorsements and testimonials that prove the WiFi experience was a happy one.

3. Consider additional overlay

For large events in particular it can often be beneficial to bring in an external Wi-Fi specialist, such as DB Event Networks, because we are able to provide a more bespoke service suited to the needs of a show whereas many venue infrastructures are permanent and are not so easily tailored to suit the specific areas of high density that may occur due to the layout of the show floorplan.

4. Splash pages

The Splash page is the first page that every user automatically sees when they open their browser. This page is one of the main sponsorship opportunities but as this will be your user’s first experience of the network it is wise to keep this page as fast as possible - you don’t want them waiting for your lovely looking flash animation to load before they can connect to the network. Once connected users can then be directed to a page of the sponsor’s choice. Historically, sponsors have made this their homepage, but it delivers far more value if this is a dedicated landing page with a message relevant to the show - perhaps including the stand number and inviting the user to come and visit, and perhaps including social media and sharing buttons to allow visitors to ’check in’.

5. Time-limits

Depending on the nature of the event, you may wish to set a specific time-limit to a user’s session. This will automatically log them out after say, 30 minutes or one hour. This can be a good way to keep control over the amount of bandwidth you need behind your Wi-Fi as it stops devices utilising connection speed for updating apps etc whilst in their owner’s pocket.Visitors can easily re-join and it means that the sponsor is getting their branding in front of them a second time – however, add this functionality with caution since you don’t want the user to associate the sponsor’s branding with a frustrating online experience.

In my next blog we will look at different models of raising cash to help cover the cost of WiFi provision at an event.

As featured on Conference News.

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