Las Vegas is the capital of the conference and convention industry in the United States and Smart City Networks has leveraged that foundation to become one of the country’s leading technology providers.
“Each conference or convention is only two or three days long so those are the client’s most important days for the year, so nothing can go wrong with the technology,” says Mark Haley, president of Smart City. “Any technological error means a lost opportunity for the client.”
Smart City networks began in Houston more than three decades ago. Today, it is the nation’s largest provider of event telecommunications and technology in the convention industry. The company designs, installs and maintains data, voice, electrical and utility platforms, coupled with voice, video and data network engineering, security and monitoring.
Smart City Networks manages the technology services for more than 3,000 events annually, including almost every Fortune 500 company event and major trade show. The company serves more than 35 convention and meeting facilities across the United States, totaling over 17 million square feet of exhibit space.
“What we like about working with Smart City Networks is they bring their knowledge from working at other locations, which makes them a valuable consultant,” says Jeff Blosser, president and chief executive officer of the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. “In the convention industry, technology is becoming a bigger and bigger deal. Smart City brings us the processes and resources to take us to the cutting edge of technology. That benefits show management, attendees and exhibitors.”
With headquarters in Las Vegas and over 200 employees scattered throughout the country, creating an overarching corporate culture is important to establish the same high level of customer service and client satisfaction, no matter if the convention is in Anaheim or Atlanta.
“We may be the experts in technology, but our history is in hospitality,” says Haley, who has worked in the Las Vegas convention industry for over 30 years. “This is a truth we have never forgotten and it defines how we do business every day.”
Smart City Networks is guided by 10 business principles that are their ‘building blocks’ for success. These principles include: teamwork, integrity, improving processes, respecting customers and moving fast and efficiently in response to client request. These 10 business principles are implemented into 20 ‘Smart City daily basics’ that express the principles through functional methods. This includes being an ambassador for the company in and outside of the workplace, maintaining open communication and continually soliciting input from customers.
“We also work with public venues, including three National Football League stadiums that are attached to convention centers in Houston, Indianapolis and St. Louis,” says Haley. “We listen to our customers and respond to their greatest needs. We work with each venue to identify what their destination goal is and what type of business they are trying to attract.”
Smart City Networks also can stimulate a facility’s growth by designing customized telecommunications infrastructure to meet the expanding needs of event attendees, developing a broader variety of services and proactively marketing those services to that convention center’s clientele.
Smart City Networks was the first technology provider in the trade show and conventions industry to build and operate permanent Wi-Fi systems. The continues to set service trends by building and maintaining customized distributed antenna systems, offering location-based services and high density Wi-Fi, webcasting capabilities and state-of-the-art digital signage programs.
The company recently installed “a distributed antenna system in Phoenix that all cell phone providers can use,” says Haley. The project was completed in time for the venue to host the media center for the upcoming Super Bowl weekend. “We have to do a lot of work at night, especially with our subcontractors, but that is when our client communication skills serves its purpose.”
Despite its roster of convention centers and facilities across the country, the ‘secret sauce’ of Smart City Networks is its Network Operations Center, which is still located at the Las Vegas headquarters. The operations center is where network monitoring and control occurs, overseeing their clients’ network environments across the country. The operations center provides Internet security services and remote 24/7 monitoring for all networks.
“The NOC being strategically located in Las Vegas makes us more efficient,” says Haley. “All of our networks are in the cloud, so we can manage everywhere from San Diego to Orlando to Washington, D.C. We keep trained engineers on-site for added security and to maintain a high level of client satisfaction.”
The operations center isn’t the only corporate resource in Las Vegas, as many of Smart City Networks’ charitable efforts are focused in the metropolitan area, and across the state of Nevada. Charitable giving is one of their business principles, and Smart City has worked with the Nevada Child Seekers, Nevada Cancer Institute and the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“We have good people who understand the industry and the community we live in,” says Haley.
Smart City Networks has brought that understanding into 2015, a year that promises more infrastructure expansion and more satisfied clients across the country.
“Smart City has provided seamless technology and service for our $2.5 million infrastructure update,” says Blosser. “They are a real partner that helps us with pricing and best practices learned from other locations. We are very happy they are part of our team.”
Smart City Networks will be upgrading networks in Anaheim, Fort Worth and Seattle this year. These projects will further solidify the company’s place as an industry leader in convention technology services.
“These are challenging projects because every building is different and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Haley. “That is why we will continue to be spread throughout the country, listening to our clients and trying to save them money whenever we can.”