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Weddings, conferences or everyday business, reliable internet is a must-have for events and venues

speaker presenting on stage to an audience

Imagine you’re about to give a presentation and you can’t connect your laptop to the venue’s Wi-Fi. Or the internet goes down during your wedding ceremony and your family members watching online miss the event. Suppose your business doesn't have the connectivity to keep up with online sales and your bottom line takes a hit.

In each of these scenarios, access to reliable internet was assumed. But when that’s not the case it can have detrimental effects.

Ask any recently married couple whether reliable Wi-Fi was a concern for their big day and chances are it’s not at the top of their list. But wedding planner Renee Bauman, owner of Hitch Studio in Brookings, says reliable internet at a venue is right up there with restrooms and meeting spaces when it comes to event essentials.

She works with couples to plan their weddings. And she knew there were plenty during the pandemic that didn’t happen as planned. So, Hitch offered a Real Wedding Giveaway for couples who didn’t get the wedding of their dreams. Of the 84 submissions, Tanner and Libbi’s stood out.

The couple was at their wedding rehearsal last year when the groom got the call that he tested positive for COVID-19. They knew it wouldn’t be the wedding of their dreams, but they still wanted to get married and decided to hold the ceremony via a Zoom call with the pastor. However, they lost their connection before they said their vows and had to finish it over the phone.

“Legally, they were still married, but a strong internet connection would have meant the world to them,” Bauman said.

Hitch and 20 other local vendors gave the couple a wedding re-do this summer.

The use of technology has plenty of happy endings, too. Another couple married in 2020 live-streamed the event thanks to the DJ’s equipment and a strong internet connection. They were originally from Iran and had people from 16 countries represented at their wedding.

“If anybody wanted to come, Covid put an end to that. But streaming made it possible so family could be a part of it,” said Bauman. “That was a technology success story.”

DJ's turn tables at a wedding dance

Couples want to provide their guests an experience and reliable internet can enhance it, she said. Technology has changed events, especially where the DJ and photographer need connectivity to access playlists or send images from a photo booth to guests’ phones. And the guests themselves want to stay connected to live stream and share photos on social media.

“It’s always a concern in the back of my head — where is the Wi-Fi going to come from?” Bauman said. “I think people now just assume you have a great Wi-Fi signal and when you don’t it’s quite obvious.”

Washington Pavilion of Arts & Science

Darrin Smith, President/CEO of the Washington Pavilion in downtown Sioux Falls, echoed that sentiment. Expectations for customers, patrons and guests are quite high when it comes to technology, he said.

The Washington Pavilion hosts a variety of activities year-round, from weddings and conferences to Broadway shows and concerts, as well as and families who come to enjoy the Visual Arts Center and Kirby Science Discovery Center.

Washington Pavilion's 2021-22 Performance Series

Establishing a strong internet connection throughout the building was a tremendous challenge, Smith said. The 350,000 square foot facility is built largely out of quartzite, concrete and brick — not exactly conducive to great Wi-Fi signals. The Pavilion staff worked with SDN Communications to come up with a plan to ensure everyone has good connectivity no matter where they are in the building.

“We go out of the way to make sure signage is such that they know there’s guest Wi-Fi access and that it’s high-speed, dependable,” Smith said. “It’s something the market is demanding and it’s more than a perk; it’s a necessity.”

In recent years, the Pavilion hosted a conference with approximately 2,000 college students from all over the Midwest — talk about testing the bandwidth.

“If we wouldn’t have had a dependable, high-speed network in place it would have been a dismal failure. And my guess is they wouldn’t come back,” he said. “That’s the ultimate test — all those college kids. We received glowing reviews with their experience and that included our Wi-Fi access.”

It’s not just the guest experience that’s important, though. If the Pavilion is without connectivity, Smith says they aren’t in business.

“When we have on-sales for shows, we might sell out the entire theatre within a day or two. If our connection goes down, we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.

Smith adds that when you sell tickets seven days a week and process more than 50% of sales online, reliability is important.

“Our livelihood depends on connectivity that never goes down,” Smith said. “People are quick to complain and be critical and it’s important to recognize that SDN performs at a high level. We’re big fans of SDN.”

SDN Communications is a leader in providing dedicated internet, private networking and cloud connectivity to businesses and organizations in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, and the surrounding areas.