Smart City’s president, Mark Haley, was recently asked by MeetingMentor Magazine to provide his insight on technology news and services in the meeting and exhibitions world. In the article, Haley discusses topics such as WiFi, digital signage, networks, bandwidth and Internet capability in convention centers. The following is an excerpt from the interview, published in Volume 4, Issue 2 of the magazine.
MM: An IAEE study noted that “complex [bandwidth] issues exist when so many consumers are forced into a confined space, such as a convention facility, at one time. What are those complexities?”
Mark: More people are carrying smart devices and multiple devices – phones, tablets, laptops – and using WiFi at one time, in one location, with varying bandwidth needs. The result is a great strain on the network.
Unlike the local Starbucks that can estimate the number of wireless users and their historical usage at a given time, it is more difficult for convention centers to predict what thousands of attendees and exhibitors will want to do with their devices. In addition, exhibitors may also set up their own wireless networks within their booths, which conflict with the in-house network.
So while a convention facility can build out a “robust” network with adequate bandwidth, the potential density of devices in one area of other interference sources can cause even the best networks to perform slowly.
MM: As meeting planners negotiate for necessary services, they feel they’re at the mercy of the exclusive provider’s pricing. How can you be seen as “fair” to clients when they have little, if any, negotiating clout?
Mark: As an exclusive provider of technology services, we are held directly responsible for the installation and maintenance of the significant infrastructure needed to provide Internet service. We provide round-the-clock, on-site customer service and technical support, which does not come with third-party vendors not located on site. The facilities that partner with us require us to provide a consistent level of quality service to each event, whether large or small, simple or complex. An open model for technology would create an inconsistent service model for the facility over which it would have no control. Custom proposals and pricing meet the specific needs of each show. As needs increase, we provide volume pricing where appropriate.
However, we are part of a facility’s revenue stream, which enables that facility to provide regular network upgrades as required. Show management benefits from regularly maintained networks and expert customer service on site that help to ensure a successful event.
-From “The Melding of Meetings and Mobile” by Maxine Golding