Fli Fi

How to properly plan for trader WiFi at your event

Fed up of hearing your traders moan about poor WiFi?

Are you losing traders because they are unable to take payments at your event?

It’s not an uncommon challenge for event directors to deal with. 

Traders that experience interruptions in connectivity when trying to take payments can become rather disgruntled (understandably so we think) due to lost sales. Their business and livelihood is at stake, and if they’ve invested in stock, hotels and travel then they could stand to lose significant sums of money should they be unable to make sales.

And of course, it’s the event organising team that will be the first to hear of any trader problems.

Being the event organiser, if you charge traders a pitch fee that is inclusive of a connectivity service for taking payments, then you could be liable for compensation.

Plus, a poor trader WiFi experience can lead to a bad reputation for your event, and also impact any other events that you may run. Traders are a close knit bunch, and once the news of poor trader WiFi and resulting loss of sales spreads within the pack, you may find that a herd mentality kicks in. 

Before you know it, previously loyal traders are trying new events to see whether they can increase their sales. It can be a serious problem.

If, on the other hand, you’re taking a commission of trader sales, then it’s in your interest to maximise your payment capabilities.

Here lies a real opportunity to increase your revenue and earn more from your events. We’ve seen events increase revenue by 20% based on a better WiFi service alone – it’s easy money when you think about it.

What’s the rub?

Fli-Fi is a business that was born out of the necessity for events to become connected to the internet. 

Since 2014 we’ve seen a significant shift in how people pay. Across Europe in 2014 less than half of all payments were made by card. 

Card payments overtook cash payments in the UK in 2017 and by 2021, only 15% of payments in the UK were made using cash. 

These statistics highlight just how quickly the digital currency market has come in the past decade alone.

And it’s not just payment methods that have seen such a seismic shift in behavior over the last decade. The way we consume information has become increasingly digital, with data being readily available at our fingertips, helping us to save time on planning ahead. 

We can now digest more information on the go, accessing it faster, which only seems to feed our thirst to be constantly kept up to date, and instantaneous with our communication.

And the number of devices that we need to connect is increasing. Think watches, laptops, ipads and phones – all connecting to the internet simultaneously.

But where is all this leading and what does it mean for event planners?

Event WiFi trends

Here’s what we at Fli-Fi know about event WiFi that you, as an event planner, may not have considered. 

Whereas at events 10 years ago you were providing a WiFi service to allow your traders to take payments, at events today you’re providing a WiFi service to feed multiple devices, coupled with an increased need for online information and entertainment. 

We know this because we see it. And we see it because we measure it. At Fli-Fi, we know exactly how many devices are connecting to our event WiFi solution at any time, and can see exactly which internet sites your traders and guests are visiting. Plus, we can see how much data is being used. 

And here’s the thing. It’s more than you would expect:

Because each trader might have 3 payment devices, a laptop, phone, watch and iPad which will sometimes connect themselves when just one of them has been joined to the network, you’re dealing with multiple devices for each trader (we’ve measured the average to be between 3 and 4 per trader). 

Whilst some devices take payments, others stream content. From films, YouTube, emails, SaaS platforms, social media and news sites – there’s an awful lot more going on than payment processing on your WiFi network. We can guarantee it. 

Your WiFi certainly isn’t just being used to take payments and your traders. And these traders who complain about their lack of sales when the WiFi isn’t working, are often the biggest single culprits.

Contention issues

If your WiFi network is overloaded with devices trying to connect, you get what’s called contention issues. Put simply, if you request a WiFi solution from your provider to cover payment connectivity for 50 traders then typically you’ll get given a solution built to handle 50 devices connecting to it.

If, however, the reality is that between 150 and 200 devices are connecting to that network, then you’ll get contention issues. Some will connect, others won’t – because the solution wasn’t built to handle that many devices. 

In addition to contention issues, your data will also run out faster – especially if there’s video streaming going on. 

As you can see, we’re heading for a few problems.

On a busy event site, you may find that some areas like food traders have no problems in processing payment. These traders are constantly busy all day with customers. So busy taking payments in fact, that there’s little time for sitting back with a video. Their WiFi access points aren’t experiencing contention issues.

Other traders selling retail goods however, often find themselves with a bit of quiet time, leading to them looking to entertain themselves online. These access points are overloaded with devices, and the result is that those who are trying to take payments can’t connect to the network.

I’m sure you can see the issue.

Plan properly

So what’s the solution to this potential problem? One that can ensure traders can take payments reliably, and you can maximise any commissions taken for trader sales?

There are a few options here: 

Control the number of devices connecting

You can offer individual password codes for each device, giving each trader just 1 or possibly 2 codes to minimise contention issues.

This will ensure that payment is prioritised, but on the downside this takes more set-up time than a single password, which is likely to cost more, and you’ll probably find traders coming up to you repeatedly asking for more codes.

The ability to share a ‘hidden’ password amongst friends directly via your device however means that it’s not always possible to prevent over-connection without using a printed codes option.

Unless you have on-site WiFi management throughout your event, controlling the number of devices that connect may not be the best answer, and it won’t give traders a warm, fuzzy feeling about your event.

Reduce online streaming

This can be done by appealing to your traders’ better nature and communicating clearly that the WiFi will not support video streaming (you could even try to prevent multiple device connectivity).

Alternatively your WiFi provider can look at blocking access to sites such as YouTube and Netflix to save your data. 

Plan adequately

Our recommendation would be to plan to allow every trader to connect 4 devices to the WiFi network, and opt for unlimited data. This may be a bit more costly, but you could either look to charge a bit more for trade stalls to cover this cost, or if you are on a commission based revenue, reap your rewards in the increased commission payment.

This option keeps your traders happy, for every event organiser looking to grow, will give you the best platform for increasing trader numbers.

It’s worth discussing the best WiFi solution for your event with your WiFi provider, who should understand contention issues and be able to advise on capacity planning. 

Contact us

If you have any questions, Fli-Fi would be happy to help out. Contact us on enquiries@fli-fi.co.uk or 020 3778 0454.

Trader taking payment over WiFi

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