See You at the Sands

By  Stephanie Blanchard, Digital Editor — July 05, 2013

One of the top tourist destinations in the world, Las Vegas is also a corporate convention hotspot. With 38 million visitors in 2012, the city hosted more than 19,000 conventions. In such a competitive environment, The Sands Expo and Convention Center couldn’t gamble with connectivity. Attendees, customers and employees  expect wireless all the time, especially during high-tech events.

As smartphones and tablets became more popular, as many as 10,000 devices at a time put pressure on the high-volume venue’s wireless infrastructure. “Inherent in the user-based environment is the challenge: how do you get them all on?” asked Justin Herrman, IT director for The Sands.

Initial solutions used smaller access points. The issue, however, was density since many points were needed to accommodate all users. When a client needed to move a meeting to a nearby ballroom, additional access points had to be deployed. The Sands also wanted to extend coverage to several properties, but did not want extensive reengineering, with its cable plant costs and labor costs, as a result.

To solve the problem, the company decided to deploy Xirrus Wi-Fi Arrays, covering more than 2.2 million square feet, including the main expo floor, and adjacent meeting rooms and common areas at the Palazzo and Venetian properties. Herrman notes that one array can support from 200 to more than 1,000 devices. Previous solutions required 10 to 30 times the amount of access points, and did not offer the same seamless user experience.

Bring Every Device
Exhibitors and attendees are not the only ones to benefit — employees have as well. “The Sands is not only BYOD, but bring whatever you can,” Herrman said. Some mobile concierge and field service processes have also been streamlined, eliminating paperwork and increasing efficiency regarding work orders.

In addition to providing a seamless user experience, and theoretically, the ability to service hundreds of thousands of devices, The Sands is leveraging the Xirrus network to develop a suite of wireless apps to stay ahead of the competition.

First phase includes Dynamic Wayfinding and Digital Documents. The former is a GPS-like app which provides directions around the property, while the latter app allows users to download marketing material after walking by exhibitors. A location-based marketing app, Dynamic Marketing will let exhibitors provide targeted offers such as coupons or codes, to attendees. All apps will be accessible through the venue’s wireless portal page.

Along with quality Wi-Fi, the upcoming apps are key to attracting and retaining business, Herrman said, explaining a client’s mindset as: “When I go to this property, everything fits me like a glove and they get me.”  And, to paraphrase the famous saying the business stays in Vegas.

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