Tablet sales are estimated to soar to 99.3 million in 2012, increasing the need for a seamless and fast internet activity. Wi-Fi devices are becoming a fast favourite amongst consumers, and many consumers expect Wi-Fi to be a standard feature in restaurants, hotels and conference venues.
Hotels.com completed an international survey on what people's expectations and perceptions are of hotel amenities. 40% of people stated that they expect free, fast Wi-Fi and will book according to which venue has free Wi-Fi. Another staggering fact is that the average person uses 3-4GB per day of internet usage.
The International Association of Exhibitions and Events completed a survey in July 2011 regarding how exhibition organisers and venue managers view key issues regarding the growing use of internet connectivity in exhibition facilities. The survey reached Europe, America and part of Asia. Their survey asked Venues about Wi-Fi and if it should be free. The following table shows the results from Venues/Buildings and their Wi-Fi status.
Arising from the IAEE survey there is a mismatch in expectations between the facility owner and the organiser regarding accessibility to Wi-Fi. Whereas 90% of organisers believe that participants should receive this free, only 48% of the facility managers do. This is perhaps because at least a third of facility managers view the provision of Wi-Fi as a 'significant' income stream, whereas the balance indicates that the costs of the service must be offset. Perhaps not surprisingly, 89% of exhibitors expect to have free access - although such access is not an important decision making element for exhibitors.
The Global Competiveness Report rated South Africa as 50th out of 142 countries. The report including summaries on each country on their weaknesses, strengths and where there is space to improve. Infrastructure was one such category, and was indicated that there was a need for further improvement. Business tourism brings in more international guests than leisure tourism is at present, and it is worthwhile to know what these tourists are looking for in their conference and exhibition venues.
We asked EXSA member venue's about their Wi-Fi facilities, and this is what information was received.
|VENUE||WI-FI AT |
|FREE OR COST||AVAILABLE IN ALL AREAS|
|Emperors Palace||Yes||Hotel Resident - Free |
Others - Cost
|Gallagher Convention Centre||Yes||Cost||Halls|
|ICC Durban||Yes||Delegates - Free||Yes|
|ExpoCentre||Setting Up - |
from 15 Aug
|Sandton Convention Centre||Yes||Cost||Yes|
Most of the Venues that EXSA spoke to indicated that they have Wi-Fi and it is available throughout the venue, and the majority charge for the service. If compared to the international standard that the IAEE survey revealed, it can be deduced from the 60% of venues that charge for what business tourists seek as a natural add-on, that South Africa is out of sync with international standards with regards to costs. 60% of local venues offer Wi-Fi, at a cost.
The survey stated that the international venues that do charge for Wi-Fi see it either as a source of income (34%) or as an amenity with an offsetting fee (66%). Technology is increasing at a rapid rate, and the exhibition industry is being forced to update in order to remain current.