Wonderful things can happen when old meets new. In the case of the hybrid event, the traditional world of corporate events is invigorated by the advent of the virtual event.
In short, hybrid events include both live and virtual attendees by integrating the two groups into one single event.
Having burst into life due to Covid-19, event planners worldwide agree that they’re here to stay. Indeed, 71% of event planners plan to continue with hybrid optimization when physical events return to ‘normal’.
This means that you need to know how to do these events well. So today’s lesson will be how to choose the right venue for a hybrid event. There’s no test at the end, don’t worry!
1. Internet Connectivity
This has to be your first question. Because without a strong internet connection, a hybrid event doesn’t happen. Let’s assume that every venue has WiFi these days as standard. But you need strong WiFi to pull a smooth hybrid event off.
And if you’re tempted to risk it, take an example. Say you have a guest speaker, and their connection keeps cutting out. You’ll annoy them, you’ll annoy your guests, and it will lead to reduced attendee engagement.
So with that in mind, you want to find a venue with a minimum of 10 gigabytes (GB) of streaming speed with low latency.
There is some room for give and take; some equipment can be hired externally. You might already have what you can bring yourself. But before we address where it’s going to come from, let’s consult a checklist of the bare necessities you’ll need:
- Multiple cameras
The easiest option is to hire a fully operational venue that can stream the event for you. Otherwise, you need to ensure the venue can accommodate the necessary equipment. Then you need to consider the logistics of transport and set-up.
3. Adequate Power Supply
This may seem like nitpicking, but details matter with these potentially volatile events.
Double-check that there are enough power outlets for all of your equipment - even that coffee maker. You need to know that there are enough extension cables to move your different pieces about too.
You should also ask your venue if there is a backup power source for when things go wrong. Because if there’s one thing you should account for in the events business, it’s that something will go wrong.
4. Venue Size
As a general rule of thumb, an event venue will have a set capacity limit. In standard event planning, you take that as gospel.
When planning your hybrid event, you need to think further. How much space do you need for your equipment and your crew? How will this affect the capacity? Do you need a venue with a breakout room or a control room?
5. In-House Support
Venues - particularly studios - that are designed to host productions and live streams will generally have an in-house production team to carry out the needs of your event.
This will relieve you of a lot of stress and leave you to focus on other pressing issues. If an in-house production team is non-negotiable for you, keep in mind that you’re limiting the number of suitable venues available to you.
If you can run your stream yourself - or are willing to bring in private contractors - you will be able to book more exciting and niche venues.
6. Safety Measures
As we mentioned before, hybrid and virtual events have boomed during the pandemic. The research shows that they will be a core fixture of the event industry going forward.
In terms of safety measures, it takes two to tango. Each venue has to conform to the safety regulations of its local and national governments. Thereafter, the venue itself might have regulations of its own.
You and your attendees will have expectations for safety conduct too. When selecting a venue, you need to decide if they can satisfy these. A happy attendee is a safe one, after all.
7. Loading Access
This is solid advice for any event, never mind hybrid events. If you have a large installation, check that it can fit through the doors. Imagine turning up on the day, and a crucial piece of equipment can’t be lifted up a set of tricky stairs. Event over.
8. Time For Practice
There’s a time for being reckless and spontaneous. That time is not the day of your event. A practice run is a bare minimum for peace of mind and a seamless event. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Make a checklist of equipment and an itinerary of events, and run through it. Easy peasy.
But make sure your venue will give you the additional needed time. Ideally, you can set up and do your practice the day before. That gives you time to mend fences. If you only get access on the day, you need to strongly consider if your operation is streamlined enough to combat any major problems on the spot.
In days gone past, event organizers were content to put out a big buffet. This style of catering is dated (even before COVID-19!). These days, concepts like fast-casual boxed meals are in vogue and alleviate safety concerns. You’ll also manage waste control better and have a more eco-friendly service with your catering partner.
As well as the food, some thought needs to go into the logistics of catering for a hybrid event. What do your virtual attendees do while you break for lunch? It would be a bit odd for them to have to sit and watch, wouldn’t it?
An elegant solution might be to book a venue with a breakout room. Your physical attendees can go in there to munch away. Meanwhile, you can either cut the stream so your virtual friends can feed themselves or maybe even offer games, quizzes, or original content to occupy them in the meantime?
Speaking regularly with your venue and suppliers is the easiest way to avoid problems.
Honesty and reciprocity is a vital asset in business and life. Make sure to be anal about small details, so there are no grey areas. Remember, the venue operators will want your event to be successful as much as you do!
For example, today’s events are susceptible to cancellation due to COVID-19. What is their cancellation policy for that?
By now, you’ve got a firm idea of what’s required of a venue for a hybrid event. And after all the practical issues are taken care of, is there something to be said of style?
There is no set aesthetic for this genre of event. So you have the freedom to choose a venue of any style you like. Let the nature of your field, business, and event take the lead!
And when it comes to stylish corporate event venues, you have to check out Spacehuntr, a startup that is quietly going to war against bland event spaces. Give their experts an idea of what you’re looking for, and they’ll come back with a choice selection of appropriate spaces.