B.Y.O.B. (Bring your own bandwidth)

The tech climate in the meetings industry is warming up to providing the right technology for meeting planners’ needs. I recently spoke with an industry professional for conference and event management at a leading global investment and financial advisory group who has initiated a protocol that the meetings industry needs to take very seriously. The policy: that any meeting, regardless of size, must have the bandwidth to go paperless.

It started two years ago when the company conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the print materials for its annual conferences. Handing out volumes of binders to each participant incurred astronomical costs for binding, collation, printing, shipping and labor. Removing printing from the process would save the company millions of dollars over a single year — not to mention the improvement in document security and information security that was at risk in the paper distribution. Additionally, as a green initiative, the move was widely supported.

This test case gave rise to a paperless policy. While many attendees are BYOD (bring your own device), those who don’t are outfitted with loaners with the company recharging the devices at night and returning them the following morning at multi-day meetings. And when this company wants to hold a meeting at a venue where sufficient Internet access is not in place, it will rely on a provider to support additional bandwidth — but this is not the ideal.

“In the future, bandwidth will be a requirement — like having a telephone in your room — not an amenity,” said the events management professional. He commented that this policy won’t force hotels to change because one can’t pressure a hotel to make such capital improvements, but he predicted the advancements in mobility will make hotels that focus on groups and meetings include this enhancement in the future.

During hotel site inspections, today’s planners are asking about bandwidth to ensure their meetings can be supported in an efficient and cost-effective manner. One way to “empower the planner” with tools is to share the website — a calculator for meeting planners to determine what wireless access they need for their next event. With continuously added costs in the meetings industry such as resort fees and Wi-Fi fees, planners are increasingly citing bandwidth availability as a negotiating point.

So go forth and negotiate your mobility.