Pick this up from CMI February
(noun) a place where people can use a computer with Internet access
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Cybercafés are a prime sponsorship opportunity. Up the ante by naming the café after the sponsor, displaying the sponsor's logo as a screensaver, or allowing the sponsor to set up a small exhibit.
To help draw attendees to the café — even those who don't need your terminals to check their e-mail — set aside stations for whatever Web-based conference services you've developed, such as a social networking system, personal schedulers, product locators, or session evaluation forms.
Add Some Zing
While your cybercafé will always be a magnet for attendees who need to check their e-mail, it can also be an important focal point for meeting and networking. Create a café atmosphere with coffee and snacks, comfortable seating, newspapers from attendees' hometowns, and meeting-related books and other materials for sale. Beanbag chairs at the computers will put a smile on everyone's face — but if you prefer to discourage long stays at the computer, make it a stand-up café.
The August 1994 International Symposium on Electronic Art, held in Helsinki, Finland, is credited with setting up the first conference-based cybercafé.
A cybercafé draws traffic, so think strategically about placement. If you've got an exhibition — and the extra space on the show floor — the café will keep attendees from running off to check e-mail. Many organizers put their café near the registration area, which is fine unless it's too far from the keynotes and breakouts.
While the costs of Internet service and computer rentals are critical, don't forget to ask your provider about the details: Do you provide on-site tech support? How large and how new are the monitors? Do you provide the kiosk or booth that defines the café space? Can you build a convention portal with links to sponsor home pages or other specific sites?
A commercial Internet cafe can be an ideal venue for focus groups, training seminars, press conferences, and other small events in need of multiple Internet connections. Many cafes are available for group rentals.