The Pennsylvania Convention Center is reaching out to the meeting community with one heck of an added value: free wireless Internet access in all public spaces. The service had cost attendees $40 per show and brought in monthly revenues of $1,200 to $2,000, according to Vice President of Information Technology Bill Zebrowski, but now it’s strictly an amenity, one that the center’s sales executives hope will help nudge meeting negotiations in their favor.
While wireless access covers the entire facility, the free service does not extend into meeting rooms or exhibit halls. Exhibitors will still pay $250 for their first Internet connection, and $125 for others. The center went wireless in June 2001, with Wi-Fi coverage over about half the building. Wireless access was extended to the entire facility in the second quarter of 2003.
SunGard SCT, a technology solutions provider for educational institutions, expects more than 6,000 attendees at its Summit user conference March 28 to 31. The company will be the first to take advantage of the convention center’s free wireless, and the savings will directly affect the bottom line, says Joan Antonelli, director of meetings and events, because her company would have paid the bill for all attendees to have wireless access. "We think it’s great," she says.