And while those two aspects are certainly critical to the process, neither one of them would be able to function without a talented group of people pulling the strings. So, the third and final piece to the puzzle is the proactive effort from dedicated professionals both on- and off-site.
While it may not be obvious – most of us never see the technology that makes Wi-Fi work – it takes a village to keep networks running. Wi-Fi is monitored 24×7, with techs automatically dispatched to fix issues, constantly testing, and upgrading networks to ensure consistent performance.
When it comes to event space, there is also the added challenge of highly variable event needs which require trained professionals to interpret requirements, effectively deploy the solution, and deal with changes effectively.
There are a variety of support models in use around the industry which vary in effectiveness. As you’re scoping out where to host your next meeting, it’s important to understand what you’re getting – especially if internet is a critical component of your event.
Nearly all venue networks will have an on-site and off-site support element. The on-site team might be hotel IT, an in-house AV company, or a completely separate third-party network provider. The off-site group could be a central team from the in-house AV company or a third-party network provider. Occasionally, larger venues do everything onsite. You shouldn’t assume that the on-site and off-site team are from the same company and, as such, coordinating any complex needs should involve both teams.
Here are a few things to ask yourself when judging what’s most important to you about your internet service:
- What hours will the on-site team be available and will that work based on my setup schedule?
- How quickly is the on-site team expected to respond to issues? Is that level of response acceptable for my needs?
- Where is the transition between on-site and off-site teams? If the off-site team is needed for any custom configuration, involve them in the planning process.
- What type of company (same as on-site or different from on-site) are they?
- For critical events with a lot of customization, will they send a network engineer to the property or offer a more expedited support process via phone?
- Setting appropriate expectations for internet support is vital. If your meeting is heavily reliant on internet, having documented commitments for support hours and a plan for what happens if things don’t go well could really help out.
- If you find inadequate bandwidth, infrastructure, or support at your otherwise perfect venue – don’t worry! All can be successfully augmented given a little advanced notice (and we’d be happy to help you).
- Internet@psav.com will answer all of your internet related questions, regardless of venue.
When we first become meeting planners, we quickly realize that there’s a whole new world of terminology to familiarize ourselves with. From contract language and event orders to taxes and food and beverage minimums, the knowledge we have to accumulate – at a fast pace, and on the job – is simply overwhelming.
Today, I’m here to break down the most common AV terms you’ll run into throughout your career in a way that makes sense, and point out how these solutions can be used to help bring your vision to life.
Video Mapping – One of the quickest ways you can transform the look of any space. Sometimes referred to as “projection mapping,” video mapping is the projection of images (or videos) onto a flat or 3D surface or object. There are so many possibilities that video mapping deserves its own blog post, but here are two: backdrops for presentations that you can easily switch out between sessions, and artwork projected on the outside of a building for a unique arrival experience.
Bandwidth – The maximum data transfer rate of a network or internet connection or the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time. With the right amount of bandwidth your event can do incredible things – like power a global webcast or have your entire audience engaged in presentations via a mobile app like Chime. For more on bandwidth and knowing how much to buy for your event, check out our full post on event Wi-Fi.
Gobo – One of the most common lighting tools with one of the most indistinguishable names. Essentially, a gobo is a stencil that goes in front of your lighting to project an image or a pattern on a surface. Commonly used in weddings to temporarily highlight the couple’s initials on the dance floor, there are tons of ways to use gobos no matter what type of event you’re planning. Think brand launch parties with the company logo and color palette, or a celestial-themed gala with constellations on the ceiling and stars on the wall.
Truss – Structures that allow lighting, video, audio, or any other staging equipment to be hung. Basically, a truss is what makes it all happen! Your AV expert will often discuss room design, so it’s important to understand the basics of how a truss will impact the setup. If you have a larger meeting, a truss is needed to flow screens and speakers throughout the conference center to make sure everyone can see and hear the action on stage.
Throw Distance – The appropriate distance between the screen and the projector for images to show up correctly. When something moves fast, we usually say it’s “faster than the speed of light.” But it doesn’t always move as far as we want it to move. Lenses in projectors can only push out an image so far before the image starts to get stretched, blurry, etc. So, when you hear the term “throw distance” come up from your AV provider, don’t panic -they’ll handle the technical part of the setup. You can help get the best experience for your attendees by providing high resolution content ahead of time, or work with your AV provider to create new content for your event.
Remember: while understanding AV solutions and equipment is helpful and can save you from last minute panic, the real secret behind any successful event isn’t memorizing a dictionary of terms. As long as you work on developing a relationship with your Director of Event Technology – or someone on your AV team – you’ll have a trusted individual in your corner from start to finish. They’ll not only know these terms (and so many more!), but they’ll understand your goals and help you achieve them.
This post is the first in a series on event internet from Matt Harvey, VP of Internet Services at PSAV
Internet is cited as one of the most challenging items in event planning and often leads to apprehension over using Wi-Fi dependent tech like polling, streaming, and audience engagement tools. Without the confidence that these tools will work, it’s hard to invest in their use and, in turn, this limits the meeting experience.
Connecting people is quite literally in PSAV’s purpose statement, so in this series, I’ll lift the lid on meeting Wi-Fi – focusing on how to buy with confidence and successfully connect and inspire your audience. For this post, the often-misunderstood concept of bandwidth is the focus.
Bandwidth is something we all know something about since we buy it for our homes. It makes sense to us that more bandwidth means we can do more “stuff” at once with the internet. But in an event setting, getting the balance right between too little (resulting in a poor experience) and too much (resulting in overpayment) bandwidth can be tough. In other words, how much is just enough?
Shared vs. Dedicated
The first thing to know is the difference between shared and dedicated bandwidth. You can watch our explainer video on that here. It’s only two minutes long, and we’ll be right here when you’re done.
Now that you know the difference, it’s important to note that the home internet is an example of shared bandwidth. In an effort to make us upgrade, the cable operators tell us that we need faster services for all our devices. “Ultimate Internet (up to) 300 Mbps suitable for 10 devices!” they say.
This type of marketing leads to confusion. If 300Mbps is good for 10 devices, then each device needs 30Mbps, right? Not so fast. Dedicated bandwidth is different. For large groups, we actually need less bandwidth than we otherwise might think, and in the dedicated bandwidth world of events, it’s easy to assume that the numbers are the same as the cable company marketing which leads to an overestimation of bandwidth needs.
Next time someone tells you they need 30Mbps each because that’s what they get at home, take a breath and remember there’s a calculator for that. This tool will give you a good starting point for attendee bandwidth needs.
What if a presenter requests a lot of bandwidth as part of their requirements? Chances are, the presenter is also thinking about shared bandwidth in-home internet terms. Have a conversation about the presenter’s intended use of the internet and include your trusted techie. Most everything a presenter will need to do from a presentation laptop can be done in less than 5Mbps.
- Use the bandwidth calculator to estimate your needs.
- Make sure your venues are providing bandwidth usage reports, showing your total bandwidth consumption over time. These will help you dial in on exactly what your needs truly are.
- If you are concerned about running out of bandwidth, consider pre-negotiating an optional on-site upgrade with the venue. If you need to use it, pull the trigger with the confidence that the additional cost is already understood.
- You can always email us at Internet@psav.com. We’ll answer all of your internet-related questions, regardless of venue.