6 Benefits of Captive Portals at Events

Your event is coming together. You’ve secured A/V vendors, ordered catering, arranged for furnishings and secured a dedicated Internet connection and WiFi network for event guests, production staff and vendors to use. Everything is moving smoothly – under budget and ahead of schedule. Now is the time to consider extras that will enhance the event experience and prove to your client why you’re the top producer in the industry. You can excite guests by paying this year’s hottest reality show star to make an appearance or you can optimize the client’s ROI by setting-up a branded captive portal splash page for the event WiFi network. What’s that?  Branded splash page? You’ve made the right choice. The benefits of a captive portal go way beyond a space to place your logo where guests will see it (though that’s nothing to sneeze at), yet many event producers are unfamiliar with a captive portal full capabilities.captive portal

Ideal for trade shows, fashion shows, product launches and large conferences, a branded splash page, or captive portal, can strengthen network security, improve user experience and create post-event marketing opportunities that maximize and solidify the financial advantages of throwing large events for your client. You have full control over who will see your captive portal, as well as every aspect of user experience.

 

In addition to all of the above, outfitting your guest WiFi network with a branded splash page provides some lesser known benefits.

6 lesser known captive portal advantages to consider:

1. Added Security

The inclusion of a captive portal automatically adds a layer of security to your event guest WiFi network. Captive portal authentication pages can be configured to prompt users for passcodes or personal data in exchange for network access. This is a great feature if you only want to offer WiFi access to a select user segment, such as members of the press.

Authentication data can also be used to determine the type of network experience a user will have. Say you want to grant event goers role-based WiFi experiences. Media types will input a unique passcode that will unlock accelerated browsing speeds with prioritized traffic, so that they can share content about your event quickly and easily. Guest WiFi users will enter a different passcode into the splash page. This passcode will grant them slightly slower browsing speeds in a segmented network, in which every single user device is contained in its unique VLAN. Separating guest devices into unique VLANs helps to maintain a secure network environment by making sure no user can access data on another user’s device. Guests can still browse the Internet, check emails and post on social media, but not as fast as the members of the press.

Creating a branded splash also prevents potential hackers from setting up “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attacks. This type of WiFi hack was depicted in HBO’s hit show, ‘Silicon Valley,’ and the equipment to recreate such attacks is readily available for purchase online. In this method of attack, hackers set-up rogue access points that mimic your wireless network and attempt to draw users to connect to it. Once connected, the hackers have full access to your guests’ device and their personal information. Protect your network from a MITM attack by setting-up a branded splash page and informing your guests of its existence and required sign-in credentials. If hackers launch a MITM attack at your event, your guests will automatically know that the network being broadcast without a splash page is not the network they should be connecting to.

2. User Data

Splash page authentication allows you to collect as much information as you want about your end users and event guests. To guests, completing a brief questionnaire is a fair price to pay in order to connect to a free event guest WiFi network, especially if the event space is a dead zone with limited 4G coverage.

User authentication data collected by a captive portal can be exported and leveraged for countless future marketing campaigns. Need more email addresses for your monthly newsletter or phone numbers for your sales team? Simply ask your event guests for contact information and more when they access your WiFi through the captive portal.

Many captive portal solutions even support authentication via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Social media offers a wealth of end user data that can add context to behaviors and yield deep insights into your customer base. Social media authentication is appreciated by event guests and producers alike. WiFi end users log onto the event WiFi network using an existing social media account, circumventing the time consuming password entry and intrusive survey completion process. Event producers receive accurate, often self-reported end user data in a straightforward format. Post-login browsing data provides a full view of a brand’s target market.

Collecting user data will help your brand provide a better experience for its customers. User data enables you to tailor products or services to better meet the needs of your target demographic.If your brand is in touch with its customer base, transactions will feel organic and obvious. Trust this writer, it works. When I have an intuitive shopping experience, I’m more inclined to purchase that brand’s products the next time I’m in the market for the item in question. I don’t feel as if I’m making a financial transaction, but a natural choice.

3. Legal Protection

Like all things worth pursuing, providing a guest WiFi network at your trade show or event comes with some inherent risk. You’re assuming the responsibility of providing a fully secure network that will protect users’ data and devices from all manner of cyber threat.

Deploying a password protected network, or even a passcode accessible captive portal page, works to keep most nefarious users off of the network. However, even the most trustworthy end users are not above human error. Unlocked equipment as well as the exchange of private passwords, pirated media or undetected viruses can compromise your network and lead to legal trouble.

Protect yourself from the possibility of a lawsuit by presenting terms and conditions on your WiFi network’s authentication page. Terms and conditions also come in handy for proving consent to leverage end user information for future marketing campaigns.

4. Network Management

A captive portal splash page empowers you to manage every facet of the network experience for each unique group of users. This is especially valuable at events with limited available bandwidth. A captive portal will allow you to make the most of what you have. Enable throttling to ration the amount of bandwidth available to each device. Even restrict certain wasteful functionalities. Perhaps you encourage every single guest to tweet about your event and post pictures of it on Instagram, but you don’t want guests streaming videos on YouTube or Netflix if there is a lull in the action. You can implement per device bandwidth limitations that will provide end user devices adequate bandwidth for lightweight activities, like posting on social media, but will not grant them the bandwidth to stream high definition videos or download large files. Not everyone has to be bound by the same restrictions. Other users, like video bloggers or your production team, can access much higher bandwidth speeds over the same wireless network.

This type of per device control is just not possible on networks where users don’t authenticate via captive portal splash page. Without a splash page, all of your network users are essentially in the same group, subject to the same freedoms and limitations. A smart service provider will help you understand the features available to you and the best configurations to guarantee optimal network performance at your event.

5. Complete Branding

A captive portal splash page may allow you to limit bandwidth, but there is no limit when it comes to the branding possibilities your page presents. Captive portals typically have 100% impression rates and are a great place to display your brand’s logo and message. Upon authentication, users are redirected to a success page. The success page presents fresh opportunities to raise brand awareness. At this point, end users have an active Internet connection and can engage with your company on social media, through your website, or via other web links.

Explore unique advertising techniques that are available to you only if users log-in through a captive portal. One you may like to try? Interstitial redirection. Similar to what you experience when trying to watch videos on YouTube, ads are pushed to an end user device and remain on screen until a defined period of time has passed or an action— like a click or conversion—is completed. Advertisements can also be delivered via browser overlay. In this method, existing advertisements on the websites that your guests visit are replaced with advertisements related to your brand or event. Some brands even set-up unique microsites that are only available to event guests who access the WiFi network. A microsite is a great place to feature promotions geared towards exclusive customers. If you don’t want certain groups of users (like production staff) to see all of these ads, simply ask your event WiFi and captive portal service provider to create policies for these groups that offer a custom user experience.

6. Increased Revenue

Most of the benefits mentioned above relate to cost savings—proactive measures to avoid additional expenses. Your event captive portal can not only save you money, but make you money!

You already know that splash pages are fully customizable but did you know that every custom element can be monetized? Selling WiFi sponsorship packages to vendors is a great way to recoup your investment in a splash page and still experience the full benefits of a captive portal. Sponsors can reserve the entire splash page, a small segment of it, or pay for advertisements to appear every few minutes on an end user’s device. You can also use your splash page to sell Internet access to end users. Apartment complexes, office spaces and other multi-dwelling units with permanent deployments take full advantage of the opportunity to sell unique Internet plans to end users. Why shouldn’t you?

As technology evolves, the list of the captive portal’s benefits will grow. It’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing a lot more captive portals at events and even in traditional brick and mortar stores in the coming months.

We’ve only scratched the surface of captive portal benefits. Made By WiFi encourages event production mavericks and marketing geniuses to push the limits of what can be done with a captive portal. We will help turn your vision into reality and reap the long-lasting rewards.

If you want your event to make a splash, opt for a splash page. A well-developed captive portal elevates the value of any event.

To learn how a branded WiFi splash page can fit into your next event, contact Made By WiFi for a free consultation.