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PCMA Catalyst: Free Wi-Fi? David McMillin, a staff writer for PCMA, recently posted to pcmaFORUM in the PCMA Catalyst community (catalyst .pcma.org) about an interview he had with hospitality expert David L. Jones, Ph.D., on “the future of paying for hotel Wi-Fi.” (Read the article at convn.org/ hotel-wi-fi.) “Hoteliers can’t afford to give away Wi-Fi,” McMillin wrote, “but Jones suggests that it may be better to simply build the costs into room rates. What do you think of the strategy?”


I don’t see this as any different from what the planner population has been doing forever: building in costs to regis- tration fees and exhibit fees in order to pay for expenses. I would rather someone tell me that


my guest-room Internet is free than to charge me daily and add it to my bill. The only difficulty I see with this is, how do the upscale brands continue to describe this as a benefit of a loyalty program if everyone gets it for free? When one thing changes, it can affect other parts of the operation!


MaryAnne Bobrow, President, Bobrow Associates Inc.


One thing we really encourage our clients to do is to separate their Wi-Fi needs into three separate categories — organizer/association, attendee, and exhibitor — [so] you are better posi- tioned to align the services required in a way that makes for a win/win for all stakeholders. By doing this, I have seen clients successfully manage this in a manner that has gotten them what they need from a Wi-Fi perspective to run the event at virtually no charge, provid- ing attendees access through a spon- sored site for the duration of the event. Like most issues, it comes down


to really understanding your needs and clearly communicating them with the venue in a way that allows them to maintain a fair margin, while


PCMA.ORG


meeting the needs of your event and stakeholders.


Jim Kelley, Director of Global Accounts, PRG Corporate & Tradeshow Services


I recently planned a meeting with a hotel and had free Wi-Fi in all the meeting rooms, which was critical to the meet- ing, because at the end of each day, the attendees had to [take] an online recer- tification exam. In addition to Wi-Fi, we needed electricity for everyone to plug in their laptops. With that being


said, I worked with the hotel to have a power cord on every other table. To my surprise, when reviewing the AV quote during the planning process, I saw that electricity was close to $10K for a 4-day meeting. So what I saved in free Wi-Fi I perhaps spent in electricity. So I caution planners when negotiat-


ing free Wi-Fi — don’t forget to negoti- ate the electric as well.


Willie L. Benjamin II, Director of Meetings and Exhibits Experiences, Credit Union National Association


From Convene’s blog For more on the meetings industry, visit our blog at pcmaconvene.com.


UNPLUGGED AND OFF THE GRID When Executive Editor Christopher Durso and his wife took their daugh- ters to Great Falls Park in Northern Virginia, they decided to leave their smartphones back in the car and just enjoy the experience “without pho- tographing, Facebooking, or tweet- ing it.” Afterward, Chris wondered if meetings attendees should be encouraged to do the same thing: “We talk a lot about using social


media and other technology plat- forms to connect your meeting to a larger conversation — before and after the program, and maybe espe- cially during. But my experience of late is that live, in-person meetings are something of a luxury in our on- demand world, because they take us out of our everyday environment, in which we’re constantly on call, and ask us to think only about who or what is in front of us at that moment. Once I got home yesterday and life began seeping back in, I wondered if the most engaging and fulfilling conferences would be those that unplugged themselves by discourag- ing tweeting and everything else-ing,


at least in the moment, and by encouraging the here and now. “I don’t know. I love technology,


and I’ve found online communi- ties and conversations to be a very rewarding complement to real-world communities and conversations. But might a meeting or conference be a place to draw the line, the better for attendees to immerse themselves only in their immediate environ- ment — and the thoughts that are in their own heads?”


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Read the whole post at convn.org/off-grid.


JULY 2013 PCMA CONVENE


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