Venue wifi for patrons - The conversation continues
On Tuesday Google announced it will be providing free wifi to the residents of the Chelsea neighborhood in New York city. The announcement is just the latest example of how the public has come to expect wifi being available everywhere they go. That expectation will continue at venues and events. You may be surprised to learn the conversation of venue wifi for patrons being part of the ticket purchase is already well underway.
The conversation about venues selling wifi to patrons started a few weeks ago when Cory Garcia asked 'Why Not Add a Wi-Fi Password to the Price of a Concert Ticket?' in the Houston Press. Garcia's hypothetical answer includes his thoughts on how the concert experience could be improved:
It's great that venues are starting to be forward thinking when it comes to smartphones. Venue-specific apps can be handy, especially if you're the type who wants to be able to buy concert tickets anywhere you have a data connection. That said, wouldn't it be nicer if venues were also being forward-thinking about how we access data while we're at their place?
Garcia sought the opinion of telecommunication giant AT&T to see if such a ticket up-sell is even possible: "A wide variety of promoters and venues work with AT&T and other carriers to enhance the network capacity by deploying additional assets, such as Cells On Wheels (COWs) at events. These portable cell sites provide extra coverage and capacity to accommodate large crowds."
Passing mentions of the concept have discussed on Twitter and that conversation continues to this day. While tens of thousands of venues offer wifi to their patrons, the notion of it being a managed service, offered as part of an event ticket as a paid extra, has yet to graduate from theory into practice.
Tom Mcinerney, of Event Magazine, has a written an authoritative opinion on just how a venue can offer up access to the Web to its patrons. Event Magazine may be a UK publication, but its influence reaches all the way across "the pond" to the U.S. Knowing that venues in Europe are also working to provide wifi for their patrons makes the conversation Garcia started that much more interesting.
In 'Spectrum Crusaders' Mcinerney addresses the pros and cons for venues providing wifi without any technical jargon.
As venues and events deploy wireless networks that become ever more critical to delegates, press, production and exhibitors, interference is the elephant in the room. Managing rogue access points, or those using their own solutions is imperative in reducing interference, and ensuring that those who are trying to use Wi-Fi networks in the same place can do so.
On Tuesday, another industry giant, Google, announced it will be providing wifi to all of the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan. The free service is the largest public outdoor network in the city and does not require a password. Sarah Frier says the new is "part of an effort to cultivate Silicon Alley, a concentration of startups in Manhattan. Wi-Fi will be available to thousands of New Yorkers between Gansevoort Street and 19th Street from 8th Avenue to the West Side Highway."
A very large scale wifi network like the one Google has built for Chelsea is most likely too great of an undertaking for the average venue owner to consider. But it is important to note that an expectation is being established, as Garcia and Mcinerney have booth mentioned.
"Why No Wifi?"
Rather than not meet that expectation, the savvy venue owner or event organizer can build upon it and make wifi part of an event's experience. This is not to suggest that venues should provide wifi for free, quite the opposite actually. After spending the money for the wifi infrastructure, the costs must be recovered as quickly as possible. Once paid for, the enhanced experience of wifi at an event can be monetized into an additional revenue stream.
Venue wifi for patrons being part of the ticket purchase would also require a ticketing software that can be configured to offer up-sells during the purchase process. ThunderTix has a robust suite of tools for including up-sells and extras to the price of a ticket. The same suite for up-sells has tools for packaging event tickets with souvenir merchandise and lucrative season ticket packages.
What do you think? How soon will the public's expectation of ubiquitous wifi also include their favorite venue? Should wifi be free or should it be part of the ticket purchase? Let us know in the comments below!