Look for good quality Wi-Fi when choosing your venue

Organising an event and looking for a venue? Good quality Wi-Fi should be one of the items at the top of your list. Yvette Chatwin, general manager of 30 Euston Square, spells out the issues.

From food and drink and marketing, to health and safety and risk assessments, organisers have a tough enough job when planning and staging events without having to worry about the quality of the venue’s Wi-Fi.

The fact is, the provision of a great quality and reliable Wi-Fi connection is a necessity in today’s industry, whether it’s for streaming video, updating social media platforms or downloading content.

There are many factors for organisers to consider when looking for a venue that offers the right connectivity for events. I think organisers benefit from asking venues a number of questions, like is it free? Is it reliable? How many devices can it handle? Is it secure? How much bandwidth is available? What is the capacity of the back-up system and is it available altogether? What are the download and upload speeds?

I believe it’s the responsibility of venues to support organisers, providing them with the right information to ensure the internet connectivity matches their needs, which will contribute to a successful event.

My advice to organisers is to work with a prospective venue in a partnership and be open about what you need. In return, a venue should be honest about its infrastructure and what it can offer. For example, each delegate that attends an event may well bring multiple devices, such as phone, tablet and laptop. You may only be running an event attended by around 100 people, but you’ll probably still need a connection than can handle close to 300 devices. Therefore a venue must be able to guarantee this need will be met.

Here at 30 Euston Square, we recognised that in order to cater for organiser and end user demands, we needed to overhaul our Wi-Fi infrastructure, so we recently invested in a significant upgrade.

We can now offer two 1Gbps capacity hubs of Ruckus wireless network. Our largest event space, the 300-seat auditorium, benefits from a dedicated download and upload speed of up to 1Gbps, which is more than sufficient for around 500 devices to connect. To ensure continuity of service, a 600Mbps line is separated from the second 1Gbps hub on the off-chance the dedicated line should fail.

As a venue, we know what we can provide to organisers and will always work with them because we want to build lasting relationships with clients, based on transparency and reliability of what we offer. Ultimately, a venue should aim to host a successful event just as much as the organiser. Offering a high quality, reliable and free Wi-Fi service will go a long way to help achieve this aim.

Events executive, Hayley Dove, from Gorkana, says the provision of free and reliable Wi-Fi is an essential part of her final decision when booking a venue. “We run Twitter walls at each event and as our audiences work in communications, it would be embarrassing and result in complaints if there was no reliable Wi-Fi available.

“Overall, my experience with Wi-Fi at venues, particularly in London, has been excellent. However, I had a terrible experience last year when I was working with a very well-known hotel, which wanted to charge me £14.90 per connection, giving me a cost of over £2,000 just for Wi-Fi. This was over half of my total event budget! The venue did reduce it to £200 but I found it shocking they would charge for a basic service at all.

Katherine Buchan, managing director at Venue Search, added: “When choosing a venue, the provision of free, reliable Wi-Fi is vital in my final decision for booking a venue. It’s what our clients expect. The quality of Wi-Fi at UK event venues varies enormously and there is a general lack of consistency. I feel venues don’t always give you enough information about their Wi-Fi capabilities. For example, free Wi-Fi does not necessarily mean that every delegate will be able to login to the network with all their devices at the same time.”