Connectivity for Trade Shows

If you’ve ever used Twitter, you’re likely familiar with the image of the “fail whale” which appears when Twitter’s servers are over capacity. Perhaps convention centers need a similar warning for trade show exhibitors & attendees …

In recent years, convention centers across the U.S. have been updating and renovating their facilities with new additions and features. But one area that is still in need of major improvements is WiFi capabilities. Convention and trade show attendees are generally business travelers who need to remain connected to their offices. And then there’s the GenY crowd who wouldn’t consider sacrificing the technology they’ve grown up with and can’t live without. All this is presenting a dilemma for meeting planners and venues because most current convention center networks can’t handle the demand.

A recent paper by the International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE) reports the results of a survey of show organizers, exhibitors and venues. The major challenge with convention center WiFi stems from having so many people in a confined space trying to access the network. Bandwidth is often stretched beyond capacity, making connectivity unreliable. But show management and venues must work together to develop solutions.

To learn more or get a copy of the IAEE white paper, titled “Wi-Fi & Mobile Challenges in the Exhibitions and Events Industry,” visit the IAEE site.

In addition to having more robust WiFi, many shows are attempting to become true multi-media events. Let’s face it … today’s exhibitors and attendees expect it! One show that delivers on the promise of multi-media connectivity is — not surprisingly — the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas. In addition to providing sponsored WiFi in the lobbies at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the NAB Show streamed select sessions live online, had a mobile app, and of course featured continuous updates on Twitter and Facebook. To view highlights of the show in a video version of the show daily, visit the NAB Show site.

© 2012 Marlys K. Arnold  (from the April 2012 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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About the Author:

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. She travels the country consulting and training both exhibitors and show managers, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image (2002), host of the Trade Show Insights blog-cast and creator of the ExhibitorEd training kit. To request access to her free video series, “7 Mistakes Exhibitors Make (and how to avoid them),” go to

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