This is the final part of a six-part series on WiFi at events. The last “C” is all about exercising your freedom of choice, putting the free market to work to ensure you receive the highest quality network for your event at the most competitive price.
“I thought my only option was to use the venue’s in-house network” is something we hear far too often. Regardless of the default Internet “exclusivity” clause in your venue contract and event organizer “conventional wisdom”, the FCC’s Telecommunications Act of 1996 protects your freedom of choice when it comes to your network.
Business is business and money is money, so unless your venue is willing to have you walk away, everything is up for negotiation. That is not to say you should regularly threaten to yank your event unless you are provided the sun and the moon at no cost. Rather, you should be aware of where your organization and your attendees will be spending money and use this information as leverage to get what you want in the areas that are most important to you.
For example, if you’ve committed to fill 100 hotel rooms during the course of your event, make sure you meet (or beat) your commitment within the agreed upon time frame. Doing so will help you show your venue that you honor your commitments and expect them to do the same.
If you fall short, you’ll lose good will and negotiating leverage across the board. If you blow your commitment out of the water, now you are throwing the venue more money and you can be more aggressive in the concessions you ask of them.
Who provides your network and at what cost has to be part of your negotiations early in the venue selection process if you want to get the best network for your money. It is often beneficial to work with an independent network supplier to verify costs and ensure you are getting everything you need and nothing you don’t.
As with any negotiation, the earlier in the process you start discussing your network, the more flexibility you’ll have. The converse is also true. If you wait until after you have signed your lease agreement to start negotiating for internet, it will be harder to get reasonable concessions from your venue.
If you must sign a facility exclusive for your network, you have the right to review all costs in advance and require your venue (in the contract) to match market rates. For example, if you work with an independent network provider, it’s not uncommon to get a quote for wholesale bandwidth at $250/Mbps.
With retail bandwidth rates at many hotels and convention centers at $1,000/Mbps, adding some good old-fashioned market competition can help ensure you get the most bandwidth for your money.
With the need to stay connected becoming ever more important and the increasing expectation of attendees to have reliable wireless internet, ensuring a dependable network or bringing in your own should be among the top considerations of every event organizer.
Now you know the issues involved, so you are ready to deliver exactly what your attendees want – fast, reliable, ubiquitous wireless internet!