Steve Birnage and I were fortunate enough to talk at the HBAA (The Hotel Booking Agents Association) 13th Annual Forum this week on their theme of Future Vision. We based our workshop on the concept of a ‘technology venue’ using each of the various ‘floors’ to represent a technology and how, for example, any service offering (near the top of the building) needs a good foundation at the bottom.

We went on to discuss the many other floors which are all critical for eventually delivering a great customer experience. Attendees where really keen to engage and we got some great questions especially as many are focused on winning business for the 2012 Olympics, opportunities which will have high expectations for connectivity on site. A quick summary of the main points below;

The foundation – High speed, dedicated uncontended internet access is a must. Many venues still attempt to share one connection between rooms, bars and conferencing facilities but this won’t meet many conference organiser requirements these days. We have recently upgraded a London customer with significant bandwidth for their conferencing facilities entirely separate from them having great connectivity for their bedrooms.

Ground floor – A good, reliable wired network which is managed by a third party or venue with appropriate support can make deploying services and performing upgrades later on quite straightforward. Here we were using examples about running fibre between key points in the building (either at design or re-fit) to ensure high speed services can be delivered without causing massive headaches. We used the term ‘managed’ a lot within this section but really the key is to ensure services can be changed quickly remotely.

The Technology Venue

First floor – Reliable Wi-Fi networking. Separate to the internet or network on site it is critical to ensure a wireless network is deployed to deal with the appropriate requirements in mind. For example a conference room which seats 500 needs to have the wireless infrastructure to handle that. New technologies can really help here – like 802.11n mesh wireless networks which can be extended by just plugging in access points which automatically extend coverage however this is dangerous to do unless your environment will automatically minimise interference or you have an appreciation of what channels other access points are using.

Second floor – Make sure you have the support lined up since there is nothing worse than investing and not realising value. Not only should venues have technical support, be it in house or outsourced but also staff should be familiar with the functions and features so they can represent it to customers and prospects who may ask.

Third floor – The critical revenue generation floor – here venues should be thinking past charging for the internet access and looking at sponsored hijack pages, content driven micro sites, support for live streaming and perhaps a strategy about how to re-use customer content in terms of video (perhaps for those who could not attend).

Those key areas got some great interaction from the audience. Many of whom have made significant investment in technology but continue to look for opportunities to maximise return. It was also great to have discussions with several of the larger hotel brands who are committed to contracts and are keen to ensure contracts continue to keep a focus on innovation.

The Etherlive team are now in the last stages of planning in preparation for the Event Production Show at Olympia on 2 – 3 February. We are on stand 620, on the right hand side of the main isle not far from the entrance. As usual the team will be ready to answer questions, discuss services and demonstrate equipment. With a Royal Wedding this year and the Olympics next year it is important to get services booked early – we are already seeing a knock on impact from these events, for example lead times are increasing for telecommunication services and this will get worse during the year.

Alongside our normal array of solutions for connectivity, communications, monitoring and interactive technology we will also be demonstrating three new services:

Crew Accreditation System – A contact-less RFID card (or wristband) system which makes managing crews simpler. The system uses a PC or touchscreen terminal to manage crew as they book out keys, radios, plant equipment and doubles as a crew catering system replacing those pesky paper vouchers. Multiple terminals can be used over the site such as in the catering tent and production offices. All the data is easy to manage allowing production to forecast catering requirements and track items quickly.

Event Production Show 2011

Dynamic Secure Wi-Fi – There has been a lot of press recently about the security of wireless networks and even though we already have a very secure system we will launching an even better solution. What’s great about it is that it’s easier for the user but more secure as every user has their own unique encryption key. Aimed at events when privacy is critical it will reside alongside our existing range of wireless services so that you can decide what level is appropriate for your event.

Communications Tower Light – Not completely new as it is in its second year of use by Etherlive but this palletised, environmentally tower light was a great success during the 2010 season so we have been improving it further. Supporting Wi-Fi and cabled networking, public address and CCTV from one unit, it is perfect for quickly deploying technology services in areas with no power. The 2011 unit now has multiple camera options with a new higher zoom and motion tracking enabled camera added to the range; and if you need high density outdoor wireless there are options for up to 750 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections off of one unit.

Take a moment to register here if you plan to come along to the show to speed up getting in and of course if you want to set-up a specific time to meet you can  get in contact beforehand.

We hope to see you at the show!

For further information contact:

Helen Stevens
T. 01454 629 741

Showground to Extend Connectivity Services with Etherlive

The Malvern Showground, the home of the Three Counties Agricultural Society, is extending its onsite IT services for customers who exhibit and hire the facilities with help from Etherlive. 

Malvern has rolled out a permanent Wi-Fi infrastructure for a number of IT services across the site to improve communications for events. The implementation, now in its third phase, includes a significant infrastructure for Wi-Fi internet, VoIP telephone lines, CCTV cameras, PDQ machines, and site wide access to the Three Counties electronic scoring system.

According to Nick Vincent, CEO at the Malvern Showground, the installation represents a first for this kind of venue.  He comments, “Showgrounds have long been in the shadows of large indoor venues when it comes to providing the very latest in connectivity and IT services for their customers – offering access to e-mail, secure phone lines and wireless payment systems are no longer ‘nice to haves’ for showgrounds, they’re necessities. 

“Showgrounds are now waking up to the need for technology – and this recent investment demonstrates our commitment to providing permanent, reliable connectivity.  The team at Etherlive has supported us fully throughout the process with its expertise and practical advice.”

Tom McInerney, Events Director at Etherlive adds, “We have been working with the Malvern Showground since 2008 to establish the needs of its customers and the right technologies to support them.  The final stage of this installation will enable Malvern to differentiate itself from competing showgrounds, and offer event organisers the same level of connectivity and communications that they would expect from any first class venue.”


About Etherlive
A successful event depends on great performances. From WOMAD and The Green Man Festival to Southampton Boat Show and the Three Counties Show, we are the ones that make IT work. Etherlive sits behind the scenes delivering reliable Wi-Fi internet, telephony, laptops, PDQs and interactive messaging. Whether in a field or a building, we make connectivity simple.

The Three Counties Agricultural Society is a registered charity working for rural industry, the environment and countryside life.
Committed to supporting farmers, growers and horticulturists in the region and developing understanding between urban and rural communities, it actively cultivates partnerships with the local and regional business community. Its work is firmly rooted in education at all levels, and it is quickly emerging as a facilitator and enabler of a variety of curriculum-based projects and effective teacher training placements.

The Malvern Showground home enjoys a panoramic backdrop in the shape of the famous Malvern Hills in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. It is a nationally recognized venue and welcomes more than a million visitors each and every year. Its own events include the national Malvern Spring Gardening Show (May), its flagship agricultural event, the Three Counties Show (June) and the Malvern Autumn Show (September).

For more information and a full diary of events, please go to:

Etherlive will hold a seminar at the Wireless & Mobile 09 exhibition at London’s Olympia 2 giving insight into working with the latest wireless technologies in challenging temporary deployments. 

From the Wireless & Mobile website:

Real World Wireless – some practical advice

 From corporate enterprise to muddy fields, Etherlive shares their knowledge of wireless technologies. How can you optimise your current environment at minimal cost and use next generation equipment effectively? Based on experience ranging from permanent installations to supplying temporary mesh networks to the events industry, delivering VoIP, video and CCTV, this is a practical discussion about the pitfalls of wireless networks and how you can avoid them in your deployments.

If you haven’t already you can book your place here


Wireless and Mobile '09

Wireless and Mobile '09