In the last year and a half, the events industry has been turned upside down, making it important to start setting new expectations for the future. But where do you begin? The mere mention of the word “hybrid” will cause shivers and non-committal brush offs from many event organizers. The main reason for this is fear of the unknown — what it entails, the uncertainty around it and the extra planning that comes with it.
But virtual events and live streaming capabilities have been critical during the pandemic. Businesses have been able to continue collaborating, people have felt connected and events have become more accessible. As we emerge from Covid-19, hybrid events can help organizers continue to reach more people, beyond a venue’s max capacity. In addition, less people traveling will have a positive environmental impact and allow the event to be more sustainable.
Being able to combine the convenience of virtual gatherings with the reliability and spark of live events means a whole host of opportunities will open up for event organizers. Below are six questions to consider when selecting a venue for your next hybrid gathering.
- Is it the right size for your event? Depending on the number of in-person attendees, you’ll have to bear in mind the government’s latest recommendations on social distancing. While most states have now fully reopened, gathering restrictions vary greatly in other parts of the world. Depending on the location of your meeting, a larger capacity venue may be required. In addition, make sure the venue has enough space to comfortably place your camera and lighting equipment without negatively affecting the experience for your live audience.
- What safety measures are in place? The ability to keep your attendees safe is going to be a key part of the hybrid event planning process. Will the venue provide hand sanitizer stations? How often will the rooms be cleaned? Will attendees have access to contactless check in? How will the food and beverage experience be handled? These are only a few of the questions you need to ask before selecting a venue.
- Does the venue provide the right hybrid tech equipment? This is where research comes into play. Each venue has different technology and event packages, so your decision needs to be informed by the size of your event, your budget and how advanced you need the tech equipment to be. At the basic level, a stable, fast and safe internet connection is crucial. Other considerations include cinematic capabilities, special sound and lighting effects, and an in-house AV team to help guide you through the process. Make a checklist of your main requirements beforehand. Tip: Look for a venue that has upgraded its in-house technology and equipment to accommodate the demand for hybrid events. A number of convention centers have added hybrid studios to cater to both in-persona and remote attendees.
- Is there an in-house production team? Hybrid events come with a lot of technical logistics. First, you have two audiences that require different needs. In addition to the stresses of executing a smooth in-person event, you need to ensure that you’re live streaming the right sessions to the right people at the right time. It’s no easy task. Give yourself some peace of mind by working with a knowledgeable tech team on site, who can handle all the behind-the-scenes tasks, from soundcheck to lighting.
- Do you have good communication with the venue? Honest communication between yourself and the venue is fundamental to the success of your event. Ticking the right boxes for your meeting is one thing, but is the venue confident it can deliver a great experience for your attendees and clients? Will they be transparent about any difficulties they’re facing that could affect the gathering? It is important you and the venue are a collaborative team that share the same goal: Hosting a successful event.
- Will the venue allow you to practice? To avoid any mishaps on the day, it’s crucial to test, test and test again. Having a venue that understands the importance of practice is vital. You’ll want to test the internet speed, audio quality and other essentials that you require to host a hybrid event. By having a dry run, your event speakers will have a chance to prepare themselves and adapt to presenting to both a live and online audience simultaneously.
Event organizers are trying to navigate themselves through a new era of meetings. The way the industry will operate going forward is one of uncertainty, so it’s important to surround yourself with trusted experts who are ready to share their skills and knowledge to make your next hybrid event as seamless as possible.