Here are 10 tips and questions that everyone in the trade and convention industry can use to assess and possibly reduce your show’s technology expenses.
- Order early. Most companies have incentive rates to place your order before certain show deadlines. Create reminders in your calendar to take advantage of early order pricing.
- Know your technology needs. Be specific so you get exactly what you need. Don’t order more than your needs, but also be sure the technology will provide the speed, access and service you must have to showcase your product or service. For example, if you are going to be streaming video, you may need a higher speed Internet connection, greater bandwidth, and a network protocol to support streaming media.
- Customer service representatives can help. Let customer service help you plan your Internet order based on your technology needs. They can provide estimates and suggestions while helping you limit on-site changes or additional charges. Their goal is to ensure your connectivity experience goes smoothly. They understand that your time on the show floor needs to be focused on your attendees, not on fixing technical difficulties.
- Know the building’s capabilities. Discover what the center’s minimum and maximum services are and see how they match your needs. You may need to adjust your presentation in advance based on those capabilities.
- Wired or wireless? Wired Internet is more reliable, although wireless may allow you to move around the showroom floor to show off your product or service. Be sure to ask where the wireless networks are located; in the exhibit hall or in common hallway areas? Text yourself or write down the wireless network name (also known as the SSID) to ensure you connect to the right wireless network and not to other rogue wireless devices.
- VPN or no VPN? Do you need virtual private network (VPN) access to your corporate computers or can you function with a standard Internet access? A VPN allows computer users to access a network via an IP address other than the one that actually connects their computer to the Internet. These are usually used for security reasons and to get past an internal firewall.
- Where and when do you need to connect? You may be able to run your presentation without Internet capabilities, but you want to be connected occasionally. When you ask where wireless networks are located, be sure to also ask if you can purchase it for a daily rate and if there are any limitations that you should be aware of. Some common area wireless services may only cover the common area and will not extend onto the exhibit floor.
- Shared or dedicated? The shared Ethernet is typically appropriate unless you will be using a lot of bandwidth to run streaming videos from another site. Ask your Internet customer service representative the differences between shared and dedicated networks. Most importantly, test your connection during the typical hours you will be using the network for your presentation.
- Additional services. Will you want video conferencing or webcasting capabilities? Secure live and on-demand webcasting technology and video conferencing services may be available to enhance your company’s presentation. These services are another way for those who could not attend the event to still see your presentation.
- Stretching your funds. What is your bottom line? In other words, how low can you go on technology needs and still have a good connectivity experience? Everyone is on a tight budget. Again, talk to your Internet customer service representative. Order forms are usually industry standard services, but the capabilities of networks could be something not listed on the order form. Don’t be afraid to ask for alternative solutions to meet your connectivity needs.
Founded over 25 years ago, Smart City Networks is the nation's largest provider of event telecommunications and technology in the convention industry. Smart City Networks provides wired and wireless Internet services, phone services and digital signage solutions at convention centers and meeting facilities nationwide. It designs, installs and maintains data, voice, electrical and utility platforms, coupled with voice, video and data network engineering, security and monitoring.
Providing technology services to over 3,000 conventions and meetings annually, Smart City Networks currently serves more than 37 convention and meeting facilities across the U.S., totaling over 17 million square feet of exhibit space. For more information about Smart City Networks, please call 702-943-6000 or visit www.smartcitynetworks.com.