Now in its 37th year, the Annapolis Boat Shows have become an annual staple in the area, drawing roughly 100,000 people during the two-weeks that encompass the Sail and then Power Boat Shows. Since its inception, they have been operating a “traditional system of ticket sales,” says Jim Barthold, General Manager of the Annapolis Boat Shows. Their system included a long paper trail, starting with coupons that were cut out, filled in and sent to the Boat Show office, which would then be processed, resulting in a printed-paper ticket being mailed back to the customer. This tedious process naturally put a restriction on the Boat Shows advanced ticket sales, due to both time constraints and the hassle of the process itself. Understanding the impediments of this archaic system, the Boat Shows turned to Annapolis Wireless Internet (AWI), a franchise of AllCity Wireless, to lead them into the twenty-first century.
AWI created a new user-friendly website for the Boat Shows, now including the option of purchasing tickets on-line which has “revolutionalized the way [they] do business,” says Barthold. Now, patrons can buy tickets on-line, at www.usboat.com, and immediately print them out- similar to printing a boarding pass before taking a flight. Upon arrival at the show, e-ticket holders will have a special line to enter through where their tickets will be swiftly scanned before admittance, instead of having to wait in the often bogged down box office lines. Additionally, AWI provisions and manages private networks for other businesses involved in boat show that rely on a VPN to function securely. The Boat Shows’ new scanning and communication systems are just a few examples of additional technology that AWI has integrated to make the Boat Shows function more productively.
Earlier this year, Annapolis Wireless Internet deployed a free wireless mesh over much of the downtown area. This free WiFi Internet access is available to anyone with a WiFi enabled device who is underneath their service area. Before getting onto the Internet, first time users go through a quick registration process before being directed to AWI’s splash page which is filled with advertisements from local businesses and activities around town. The support and participation of the businesses that advertise on this portal are what make this connectivity free to the community and visiting public alike. AWI’s service area currently covers much of the downtown area, many of the waterways and is steadily expanding over the bulk of the city, including eagerly awaited projects such as the Annapolis Town Center at Parole, and down the Chesapeake Bay.
AWI’s partnership with NORTEL has allowed them to take on the prospects of venturing into a wide diversity of cities to help bridge the digital divide on a national level. In addition to the wireless services that AWI is known for, they have extensive business-to-business IT consulting services that they tailor to local companies needs. Even with this wide range of technological services, Annapolis Wireless Internet’s commitment to excellence in their performance, both to businesses and the community, is what keeps them on the forefront of communications.