The How and the Why Guide for Meeting Planners in 2016: the first half of a two-part article by Pam Angelucci.
The last thing you want is for your meeting attendees, business partners, and clients to have no access to their mobile devices during your event.
But it happens. You find a beautiful hotel, the best amenities, a renowned spa, comfortable meeting rooms, and great dining. The problem? No cell service. The questions start to roll in. “Why can’t I make a call from my room?” By the end of the first day, questions escalate to complaints:
“I had to stand by the window to talk to my boss and I couldn’t even hear her.”
“I missed 3 emails and had no idea until I got into a cab 2 hours later.”
But how do you check this elusive factor of proper mobile reception throughout a property? You’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel or conference center that doesn’t offer Wi-Fi these days. But spotty or unsecured Wi-Fi is not enough when you’re hosting a group of professionals who can’t be productive without full mobile access to voice and data.
Why is this still an issue in 2015? Because developers and property managers are coming up against issues with cellphone coverage and modern construction. Metal, concrete, and thick energy saving glass are a few of the causes of blocked cellular reception in newly constructed buildings. Many properties are installing various kinds of technology to solve the problem. One is a distributed antenna system (DAS). Not all venues have invested in a solution for this growing problem.
Before you book an event, here are a few ways to check cellphone service on a property:
- Survey the property yourself – It’s easy if you live, work, or run your planning business nearby. Go to the location and check it out yourself. Plus, it’s fun to stroll through the venue. What’s wrong with a nice afternoon work trip to familiarize yourself with the property before the big show starts? This sets you up for success on many levels, from preparedness to trouble-shooting to calming any pre-show nerves.
- Talk to the front desk staff – If you’re searching hotels, the best kept secrets are hidden with the front desk attendants. This is critical: Talk to them. Ask them if there are places on the property where it’s hard to make a cellphone call. Ask if the staff has had problems texting or communicating via mobile. Do they get guest complaints? Get the dirty details of any hidden cell reception problems.
Phrase this by saying you have a lot of important calls to make during your stay, and you don’t want to drop any of them. “Are there areas I should avoid if I’m on an important call?” Nine times out of ten you’ll get an honest answer. They might tell you, “step outside of the conference rooms,”, or “The balcony of your room will get the best reception.” If they list more than one problem area – that’s never a great sign.
What you want to hear is that they never get any complaints because they’ve invested in some sort of solution beyond Wi-Fi that is targeted for 3G and 4G full coverage. For example, “We have an antenna system installed on the property, so you should have full mobile access from the basement to the top floor.” That’s ideally what you want to look for when booking a space. Cell reception in today’s business world is paramount and you shouldn’t take chances.
- Check online review sites diligently - What if you don’t live close enough to the destination to do a live site visit? The Internet is at your service. Make sure to scroll through each hotel, country club, or conference center on TripAdvisor. If the property has any reviews that mention poor cell phone reception, or bad mobile coverage, keep searching other places to book. The best brands and properties will take care of their cell phone issues, so there is no need to settle.