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Smart City Networks dispels Wi-Fi myths

In an era when people are becoming accustomed to free Wi-Fi in public spaces, Smart City Networks is educating convention and destination sales and marketing individuals about how to better present a venue’s unique wireless options against what could be non-linear comparisons.

ECN 032014_NTL_Smart City Networks dispels Wi-Fi myths
One of the 35 convention and meeting facilities in which Smart City Networks operates.

“We are helping cities and building staff come up with new ways to market their wireless and helping them capitalize on how they can present their wireless to events they are targeting,” explained Janet Allen-Smith, general manager of technology services, Smart City Networks, Walter E. Washington Convention Center. “We are also making sure sales teams fully understand a building’s or venue’s capabilities and helping them to translate that into ideas for an event.”

From airports to restaurant chains, Wi-Fi is everywhere, but it’s not all the same.

“Because wireless is so prevalent on smartphones and smart TVs, the expectation has become – ‘if I can have it here, I can have it everywhere’,” explained Allen-Smith.

This lack of understanding has caused many event planners and convention attendees to consistently request that free Wi-Fi connectivity be included in their lease agreements.

“Free Wi-Fi is what you get at Starbucks or McDonalds. There’s a difference between that and 20,000 people coming to a building and they need wireless,” she explained. “A convention center tends to be seen as a public venue, even though it’s under lease, and it’s a private venue for a specific event.”

Smart City Networks has regularly worked with the sales teams at Events DC and Destination DC to help them understand and then better explain Wi-Fi options to event planners.

“We participate in annual trainings with them. We go to their staff meetings and present new services we are providing. Once [these services] are rolled out, we provide [the sales teams] with maps to show them where the services are located. This gives them a comfort level to reach out to us and ask questions,” explained Allen-Smith. “If someone says a particular buzz word, they know that’s wireless. We also participate in event management training to help event managers understand wireless options.”

Allen-Smith doesn’t only help sales professionals in Washington, D.C. She and the rest of Smart City Networks consult with other venues, destinations and overseas companies.

“What we found is if we’re out there helping to educate people, it gives those selling the event something to leverage,” she added. “Also, not every convention center has an onsite person who knows about Wi-Fi, so it’s important that sales people have that understanding to help with events.”

At the Convention Sales Professionals International (CSPI) 2014 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. last February, Allen-Smith and David Langford, vice president of technology at Smart City Networks, spoke to sales professionals about Wi-Fi options for particular facilities.

Allen-Smith and Langford showed examples of wireless at different facilities using floor plans. In addition, they showed the progression of when these facilities first implemented wireless, the equipment and bandwidth used and where those facilities are presently.

Smart City Networks is an event and tradeshow technology provider. To learn more about the company, visit www.smartcitynetworks.com.

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