Recognizing Event Wifi Sponsors – What’s the Best Way?

There’s an interesting discussion taking place on the Meetings and Expositions listserv of the American Society of Association Executives.

Someone asked: “How can we best recognize our sponsor for wireless internet during the meeting?”

There were several suggestions for doing this online as users connect to the internet:

  • Create a splash page for the sponsor that’s the first thing they see
  • Get users to complete a brief survey around the sponsor’s products and services
  • Show a brief video from the sponsor

Frankly, I think these are all terrible suggestions! Rule 33 of my new book is “Avoid Unexpected Roadblocks.” It deals with the negative emotional impact of sudden and / or annoying obstacles in the visitor’s online experience.

People accessing the Internet at a conference are doing many things at once, and generally want to get to what they need as quickly as possible. I understand the importance of sponsor recognition, but forcing people to take a survey or watch a video may backfire in that you’re taking their valuable time, and they’re not happy. This could have an ultimate negative effect on the sponsor’s image.

The least annoying of these in terms of the amount of delay is the splash page – if it loads quickly, and if there’s an obvious “get me out of here” link. But think about it – how many times have you used the wireless connection at a hotel, and been forced through the hotel’s home page? Did you stop to look at it? Of course not – you’re already staying there, and you’ve got better things to do.

Another suggestion on the listserv was to have attendees visit the sponsor’s exhibit booth to obtain the password for the wireless connection. But what if someone is really in a hurry and doesn’t have time to visit the booth? What if it’s a huge show and they spend a lot of time trying to find the booth? What if they’re trying to access the internet out of exhibit hall hours?

My preferred solution is to provide each attendee with a card or something in the program materials with the sponsor’s logo and the password for internet access. That way, participants will see the sponsor in a positive light because they’re helping them to get their needs met, and not getting in the way at the same time!

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