Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 02 2013

Why Planners Need to Budget for HSIA

By MaryAnne Bobrow

For years, planners have had to deal with complaints from attendees on many subjects, the most recent of which is why can’t I get ‘WiFi’ for free in my guest room, in meeting rooms, and in public spaces. The need to connect for many has moved from request to expectation. The need to please these attendees has now come to the point where planners can no longer ignore these demands, nor can they appease attendees with the ‘it is too expensive’ response.

We all understand why food prices and external factors like fuel costs drive the price of food up. When our catering menu costs rise, we simply factor the increased amount into our meeting or event budgets. The same is true for High Speed Internet Access (HSIA). The planner needs to acquire knowledge and tools to make the right decision. 

The first step is for the planner to understand the needs of all meeting stakeholders, including attendees, exhibitors, speakers/presenters, and show management itself.  Next, determine the amount of bandwidth required and how much is shared or dedicated. These initial steps take place early in the planning process and before finalizing the budget. In fact, conduct this research during the Request for Proposal planning phase and long before finalizing any contract. 

As far as budget decisions are concerned, consider whether there is an opportunity for getting the necessary bandwidth sponsored. Additional considerations include whether there are items in the food and beverage budget that can be condensed or eliminated, thus freeing up funds to provide internet access for all attendees. Today’s reality is that WiFi is a necessity, not a luxury. Find and reduce excess spending, provide free WiFi and demonstrate that you truly understand what it means to provide value to attendees and other stakeholders.

There is an abundance of help available to both planners and suppliers at in the way of articles, white papers, slide decks from former HSIA presentations, new terminology, and even a Bandwidth Calculator. The CIC’s Bandwidth and Connectivity Workgroup updates this presentation constantly to keep pace with trending issues and additional considerations.

For planners and suppliers attending Convening Leaders in Boston, be sure to mark your calendars to attend our session, “Do You Know What You Need to Know about High Speed Internet Access?,” on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 beginning at 10:45 AM. You’ll leave with an abundance of new information to help you in your daily work.

MaryAnne Bobrow, CAE, CMP, CMM, CHE is President of Bobrow Associates, Inc., a northern California association and meetings management company.  A 20-year industry veteran, she is an active member of industry associations, including PCMA, ASAE, IAEE, MPI, AMC Institute, and is regularly serves in volunteer capacities for many of them.  She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Convention Industry Council’s APEX Standards Committee and an inaugural member of its Bandwidth and Connectivity Workgroup.  Contact her at maryanne@bobrowassociates.com

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