Lunchtime Links: Don’t Skimp on Conference WiFi

Your conference's WiFi might cost you more than you think. Also: Why one federal agency switched to the iPhone from the BlackBerry.

Conference attendees may think that free conference WiFi is a given at big conferences, but it isn’t cheap — and if you’re organizing the event, you’re on the hook.

That and more in today’s Lunchtime Links:

WiFi isn’t like water: Looking to set up wireless at your next event? As BizBash emphasizes, when you reach a certain size, wireless starts to come with a cost. “The problem is when you have 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000 people, and you have a massive expo hall and breakouts and foyers and a meal hall,” Mitra Sorrells explains. “You start talking about a level of infrastructure that can no longer be free because of the cost to set up that infrastructure and the salaries of the IT staff to maintain it and monitor it. It’s not cheap. The facility has to recoup it somewhere; they are not running a nonprofit.” The cost can be worth it, they explain, if it’s done well.

Federal agency drops BlackBerry: In what could be a huge piece of bad news for Research In Motion (RIM), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to move its 17,600 employees to the iPhone platform — and away from BlackBerry devices, which have long been in favor with federal workers. “The iPhone services will allow these individuals to leverage reliable, mobile technology on a secure and manageable platform in furtherance of the agency’s mission,” ICE said. The iPhone’s stronger security may be cutting into RIM’s traditional strengths — putting the company in serious trouble. Could we see more moves away from the BlackBerry platform?

Fluency versus expertise: Tagoras’ Jeff Cobb says that while you should encourage fluency among your members, what you should really aim for is creating an environment that builds experts. “A profession or trade full of fluent people delivers a tremendous amount of value to the broader society it serves,” he writes. “Expertise goes quite a bit beyond this.” Cobb offers some tips, noting that while you may not be able to create the experts yourself, “you can help provide optimal conditions and opportunities for the necessary learning.”

Thoughts on exhibitors: Don’t fall into easy traps when running a booth, says a2z’s senior account manager, Michelle Harman. A key tip: Focus on your audience’s needs before your own — at least at first. “Listen to what their needs are before you speak,” she says. “By making the conversation more about them and less about the product, the attendee is more likely to open up and share their challenges with you. Then you can explain how your product can solve their problem.”

What cool stuff have you seen online today? Let us know in the comments.

(photo by smannion/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!