We are seeing a common and alarming trend that hotels are charging exorbitant amounts to use their WIFI for your events. Sometimes this number can be well into the thousands, but you have options and you don’t always need to layout $30k just to have event WIFI. WIFI fees just much like all hotel restrictions are negotiable and there are ways to cut costs! On today’s episode of Whiteboard Wednesday, Will Curran is going to guide you through how to save on hotel WIFI. From simple steps, you can take, to negotiation tips he lays it all out there! After this episode, you will be well on your way to breaking through the costs and saving money on your hotel event WIFI! Watch below.

event wifi

 

Video Transcription – How to Save on Hotel WIFI 

 

How’s it going, Endless fans? It’s another Wednesday, which means it’s Whiteboard Wednesday time, and we’re gonna be talking about how we can distill and make a complex topic very simple, so much that I can get it up on a whiteboard. Today we’re talking about how to save money on hotel WIFI. So let’s jump right on in. About 10 years ago, maybe seven years ago, maybe even five years ago, there used to be this saying that got said all the time around the industry, that if you don’t use our hotel AV, there’ll be some sort of fees associated. We call it hotel restrictions or hotel AV restrictions or in-house AV restrictions, very, very common. You might know this from babysitting fees, electrical fees, all those sorts of things to make it harder to not use the in-house AV company.

Well, nowadays, 2018, we’re seeing a really extremely common trend, and I was just at a conference literally this last weekend and people were asking me this exact same question that hotels are now saying if you don’t use our hotel AV, now there will be $30,000 for hotel WIFI. Hotels are learning that, hey, planners are realizing that it’s hard to get wifi. They don’t know where else to get it from, and they’re realizing they can use that as the kind of linchpin or the choke pin to force the in-house AV companies to do the AV and also for them to get the business when it comes to wifi. Maybe they say something like, hey, we’ll give you the event wifi for free, but let’s be honest, usually if it’s free, it’s probably gonna be bad. So what I want to do is talk to you a little bit how you can save money when it comes to that hotel wifi and for your events and how you can get by making sure you’re getting exactly what you need for the right price and that you’re not forced, again, into any conversations where you have to choose one vendor just to save $30,000, right?

Know WIFI Basics 

So, let’s jump right on in with the first thing I recommend is knowing some WIFI basics. We did a webinar recently with trade show internet and with Glisser, and which we’ll link down below, as part of this episode, which was how to improve your WIFI. And we talk about what these basics are and kind of how to understand them, things like, for example, speed, and understanding what involves with speed, not just necessarily the megabits per second, but also what the ping is, and kind of these terms. I think it’s important for you to know what speeds are because when you’re having these conversations where they say we’ll give you free WIFI or you’re paying this much for WIFI, you need to understand what exactly you’re getting for that money.

Wired Vs Wireless Connections

Other things as well as knowing, understanding, do you need wired versus wireless connections and talking also with what you need the internet for. For example, if you’re doing a live stream potentially you’re gonna need a wired internet connection. And if you only order wireless connections, you might not be in good shape, so understanding that difference. Also, knowing how many you do need, not just necessarily the number of connections for your attendees. We’ll be talking a little bit later about how you can help reduce the number of connections you need for your attendees, but knowing how many connections in total. Think about also vendors and exhibitors, also all your AV vendors, anyone else that needs to basically WIFI. Maybe not only just one laptop but maybe two laptops you’re gonna need, all these sorts of things all come into play.

Event WIFI Security 

Also understanding the levels of security. When you’re coming into these conversations talking about WIFI, you want to make sure that you understand how secure it is. And we have done many webinars on cybersecurity, so you want to make sure that you have secure WIFI, and happy to talk about it a little bit more.

# Of Connections 

But also, what is the use of this WIFI, not only how many connections you need, wired versus wireless, but what’s the use? Are you gonna be doing live stream over it? Do you just need your attendees to be able to check their email? Are you doing any sort of audience response systems, any sort of Q and A systems, that sort of stuff?

You have to understand what exactly you’re gonna use it for, just get your head around what the WIFI’s for. And then also the question of is it dedicated or nah, right? Is it gonna be dedicated to the fact that, for example, if you’re saying, hey, we need a hundred connections. Is that the same connections that the convention down the hall is gonna be using that same internet connection, and when they all get in it’s gonna slow down, or is that a dedicated hundred connections for you?

Also, is each WIFI connection completely dedicated or are they all shared, all these sorts of things. So when it comes to the basics, keep in mind kind of these questions and when you are talking about event WIFI and discussing what the pricing’s gonna look like, have all these questions and have a great discussion about what this is gonna look like. Not just, hey, all of our attendees get a WIFI connection and then it turns out that it’s slow, it’s not dedicated, it’s not secure, and by the way, you also need a wired connection, can get a little scary.

Test the WIFI Before the Conference

Also, number two, test it out before your big conference with another big conference. I highly recommend this as part of your site survey. So we obviously look to see what does the venue look like? What’s the condition of the floors, is the food good? But we never seem to check the WIFI. And we always seem to hear that WIFI is always fast, right? Oh, yeah, our internet’s great, it’s gonna be fantastic. But you’re spending a lot of money, and sometimes this can be as much as your catering budget, sometimes $30,000, so what you want to do is when you’re doing your site visit, hopefully there’s another big convention going on the exact same time as you, and if they are proposing that you are gonna have internet, ask to use one of their connections. So you can kind of get the proof in the pudding, I guess you would say and get a chance to see is this WIFI good?

Two tools that I recommend, everyone’s heard of speedtest.net, that’s kind of the go-to standard when it comes to doing an internet test, fantastic, allows you to see the up speeds and the down speeds and the ping. But the one I highly recommend, actually, is fast.com. The reason why fast.com is better than speedtest is speedtest providers and internet providers have realized that if we make speedtest.net our fastest website and we allow everything to go through it, it looks like our internet’s fast.

However, fast.com uses Netflix’s servers and you obviously know that a lot of internet providers are gonna throttle Netflix, YouTube, all the big data-hungry services. So when you use fast.com, it uses Netflix servers so you can see what do those speeds look like using a server that they might potentially be blocking or slowing down, which is fantastic, so check out fast.com. So get a nice, big test, plug in your laptop, all that sort of stuff and call them on their stuff, call them on the numbers that they provide.

How is the Cell Service? 

All right, a good tip as well is asking about the cell service and testing this yourself. A quick way, again, to save money when it comes to your WIFI is that far too often we worry about the number of connections, making sure everyone can have a connection, or we’re talking, again, on the other suggestion I did this, but the question becomes if the cell service is good enough do you really need a ton of WIFI, for example? Can people bring in their own hotspots? Can people use their phones?

If the venue that you’re utilizing has poor cell poor cell reception, you’re gonna find more attendees are gonna need to get on the WIFI so they can just do simple things like checking their email, calling grandma, all that sort of stuff. So make sure that you check how good is the cell service in the venue that you are having, and can that potentially be an alleviator for the internet connections that you may have. So, some good ideas so far.

Auto Logout

Let’s get a little bit more into how you can save on the number of connections, and this is this concept called auto logout. And this comes from our friend Ben at Glisser. And obviously, you can set up using WIFI to set up a service that will automatically log people out after a certain period of time. So, for example, let’s say it’s an hour, or maybe it’s two hours a connection. It automatically disconnects, and you might be thinking to yourself, why would I want it to auto disconnect, my attendees? Won’t that make them angry? Well, what’s great about it is it creates churn. And churn is this idea of losing connections and losing users, essentially, and what this means is that if someone comes in and plugs their laptop in or puts their phone on and lets it go for four or five hours and they don’t realize they don’t even need it anymore. It’s downloading the Spotify updates, and they’re downloading their app updates, and all these things like that just running in the background in general.

Well, what you might find is they may actually not need that service if they’re not actively using it to check their email or participate in the audience response system, so what you can do is the event WIFI provider can set up an auto-logout that automatically logs them out every two hours, which forces them to re-login, which allows you to keep that number of connections lower. So imagine, let’s say you have 3,000 attendees, but you only want to pay for 1,500 connections, you might not find that all 3,000 attendees need to use all the internet all at the same time. Maybe only 1,500 people need to. And then, by using auto-logout, it allows you to free up spots in the number of connections for new people to log in as well. So, a fantastic way to save money on a hotel WIFI.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Next up is creating sponsorship opportunities. We all know how to use WIFI, we get the basic ideas of looking for what’s called the SSID or the network name and the password. Well, I’ve seen this as a fantastic use of sponsorships.

At a recent conference we had, Puerto Rico actually sponsored an event WIFI network here and it was called Puerto Rico and then they put their saying as the WIFI password, and what it meant is everybody was always asking what’s the WIFI password and it got everybody to say the brand name. This should be an opportunity that you sell to your sponsors. It allows you to make just, even a little bit more money to allow you to offset those costs when it comes to the expensive WIFI. What’s fantastic as well is a lot of these have these login pages. Imagine turning that into another sponsorship opportunity, putting a graphic up, but let’s even bring it further.

Let’s say that you make it so they have to give their email address to give their WIFI login. Well, this allows it to turn into a lead gen opportunity for that sponsor as well, to collect email addresses. Again, probably figure out some sort of way to make it worth it to people to give their email addresses, though, because last thing you want to do is be stuck into a position where people are giving a bunch of fake email addresses, ’cause I know I like to do that on those pages sometimes. So make it worth it for people to give their email addresses, and turn it into a nice sponsorship opportunity to offset those costs.

Allow Attendees and Exhibitors to Buy Internet 

All right, next up is to allow, this is one that’s a little controversial, and obviously, it depends on your conference and what you want, your objectives are, but maybe potentially allowing attendees and exhibitors to buy their own internet. The reason why this is important is that sometimes you have to ask yourself is WIFI the most important thing that we have to have at our conference? Do these people need to get into an audience response system? Do they need to be able to check their internet? Do they need to call grandma? If you say to yourself, no, this conference is more about disconnecting and connecting with people or paying attention to the content, maybe you do not need to have free WIFI. And I believe for most cases, people are gonna say I need to have free WIFI, which is totally okay, use all these other tactics.

But if you believe you do not need to have free WIFI for your attendees, again, be ready, because some attendees will backlash at this, maybe consider charging for that event WIFI. At a minimum, exhibitors might be willing to pay for it, since they’re going there and paying for all that money already, maybe even consider allowing attendees.

Another good concept that you can have is this certain level of buyout you can have with WIFI. So for example, you could say to the WIFI provider, hey, we’ll pay for half of this and what that will allow is that you can drop that price from $10 per day to $5 per day, or maybe we’ll pay for a certain amount of it. That allows you to drop the cost just a little bit lower. Again, this is up to your objectives and what you’re trying to accomplish, but this might be an opportunity, if you’re really looking to save money, to potentially do as well, something to just keep in mind.

Look into 3rd Party Vendors 

All right, number seven is utilizing a third party vendor, which I’m gonna put a little dance party with. What people don’t realize, and we talked a lot about this during the webinar, is that you actually are capable of bringing in a third party WIFI provider. I’m gonna repeat that again. You are capable of bringing in your own third-party event WIFI provider, just like you can bring in your own AV. However, to circle all the way back to then, back then, when there’s all these restrictions and things like that, that’s very much where AV was back then, but now WIFI has entered. Providers are starting to make it harder for you to realize that you can bring in a third party vendor.

In fact, if you negotiate, which we’ll talk about in just a little bit later, if you negotiate up front, you can actually have a provider park a satellite truck right outside your venue, run a cable in, and even potentially utilize the existing infrastructure in the venue already. Again, you’ll have to negotiate it ahead of time, but you do have the ability to bring in a third party vendor, but you have to ask that question ahead of time, which is really important, which we’ll talk about a little bit later. So, keep that in mind, you can bring in the third party vendor, potentially, to do all this.

One idea that I’ve seen, as well, is not even just let’s say for example, you don’t have the ability to bring in a third party vendor 100%, at least utilizing that third-party vendor and telling them up front, hey, maybe I’ll use you for the next vendor, but right now I can’t utilize you. Can I at least use you as bait to be able to drop the price against the in-house company, to be able to bring that WIFI price down and use it as leverage to essentially drop that price as well. So give that a consideration when it comes to it. Third party vendors can help save your butt a lot of times, at least in understanding all the nuances and at least simplifying things a little bit more.

Ask Questions

All right, number eight, this one’s gonna seem like a duh, which is why I put duh to it, but just ask. If you are looking to save money on hotel WIFI, the most minimum thing that you can do is ask. We know that, obviously, it can get really expensive and it seems kind of obvious, but don’t just assume that the venue is gonna force you to pay that $30,000 bill for that WIFI. Instead, ask them. Super-duper simple, make that ask and don’t allow it to just be that thing that you write off right away. We’ve seen that in a ton of times, and so many clients are willing to be able to do that. And, obviously, if you are able to do that and you don’t care, go ahead, but if you’re looking to save money on WIFI and that’s why you’re watching this, just go ahead and ask.

Negotiate Event WIFI before picking the venue 

On to our last and final tip, which is negotiating before you pick your venue. Brandt Kruger has this great saying, well, I guess this is a longtime saying, but we say this in all of our sessions, if you are negotiating, it’s asking before the contract. After the contract, it’s called begging. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re begging. Be in the position of negotiating.

When you are evaluating all of your venues and you’re looking at which one’s doing this, ask about WIFI. Tell them you want, hey, I want to bring in a third party vendor for my AV and I don’t want to be charged up the front for WIFI. Ask all these questions and have this entire conversation that we are having right now before you sign your contract. This will allow you to have the leverage to put it in place to get the best WIFI with the best speeds, the best connections, everything like that. It allows you to create those sponsorship opportunities, do auto logouts, maybe even potentially bring in a third party vendor instead, before you sign the contract instead.

Conclusion 

So all of this information should hopefully be super-duper helpful for you when it comes to picking and choosing your hotel WIFI or looking to bring the cost down. So let’s recap really, really quickly. First, know your WIFI basics. Second, test it out before, during a big conference before your conference so you can make sure that it’s running really smoothly during your site survey.

Next, check out the cell service because it might be a potential for you to replace that instead of just providing a ton of WIFI. Next, check into doing an auto logout so then that way you can have a little bit more churn, so then that way not everyone’s hogging all the WIFI all day long. Potentially explore sponsorship opportunities for things like the name of the network, the login page, and maybe even lead gen collection with the emails.

Next, maybe even considering, depending on what your goals are of your conference, allowing your attendees and exhibitors to buy their internet instead. Potentially look into third-party vendors, obviously, asking for a lower price, right? And then, last but not least, negotiating all of this ahead of time before you pick your venue rather than after.

So, again, this has been Will Curran from Endless Events giving you another Whiteboard Wednesday on how to save money on your hotel WIFI for your events. I hope this was super-duper helpful. If you did, be sure to subscribe down below, hit that Subscribe button, that Like button, and we want to hear feedback, give us some feedback. Do you have any sort of tips when it comes to saving money when it comes to your hotel event WIFI? We’d love to hear it in the comments down below. Thank you guys again, and I hope you have a fantastic day. And we’ll see you next Wednesday on Whiteboard Wednesday.

Resources 

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Will Curran

Author Will Curran

Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, you can catch Will ordering a chai latte or watching The Flash with his cats. He is also well known for his love of all things pretzels. On a serious note, Will does a great job leading the team and thinking of new ways to make Endless excel. His drive and dedication, to Endless, keep the rest of the staff going strong.

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