By George Sirius, CEO, Eventsforce

In the movie ‘Up In The Air’, Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, has a job which requires him to spend his whole life on aircraft. Whilst his quest to achieve ten million air miles may sound like a figment of the Hollywood imagination, reality is not so different. Despite the emergence of video technology and conference calls, people still need to go to places to do business, and often the quickest means of doing this is by aircraft.

Whilst flying on business certainly solves some logistical problems, it also creates a drain on time, and since air travel began, business professionals have been looking at ways of preventing ‘air time’ from being ‘dead time’. For many years working on planes meant ‘doing paperwork’ but the emergence of the laptop opened up flying to a whole new way of working. Then technology presented another challenge.  The emergence of the ‘cloud’ meant that much of the software and services we use today are hosted / SaaS, and the airlines have had to respond to this. Last week on a Southwest flight from Austin to Washington DC I was able to spend my time on board constructively thanks to in-flight wifi. Whilst not free, at $8 a day, I thought this was reasonable recompense for being able to access everything I needed and keep track of what was going on in the world in real time.

It occurred to me that by having a laptop, smart phone and tablet, I am pretty much able to work anywhere and have come to rely on the multitude of free wifi options available to us now. Recently I’ve worked 30,000 feet up in the air, 150m underground at a tube station, travelling at over 100mph on a Virgin train and at 3:00am in an airport terminal.

So why then, every time I go to an exhibition, do I struggle to access a decent wifi service? Despite the many networks available, both free and paid for, it is never as simple as just turning up and tuning in. For some unknown reason, there are always problems; problems getting connected, problems staying connected, problems with speed, problems with stability. Why is this?

My recent use of wifi certainly put things into perspective. Exhibitions are full of people who rely on quick, reliable and easy to use wifi. Exhibitors often use online content to enrich their show presence, delegates need access to the internet and email, and the emergence of mobile technologies at events is going to jeopardised if there is no signal and no wifi. I’m not sure why this problem currently exists, but I am sure that something needs to be done about it, and quickly, if the events industry is to keep pace with modern technology and the expectations we have of it.

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