March 13, 2021
How To Choose A Venue For A Hybrid Event
BY Nick Forster
March 13th, 2021
Wondering what to look for when choosing a venue for your hybrid event? This handy checklist will help set you up for success.
What Is A Hybrid Event?
Simply put; the best of both worlds. A hybrid event covers all bases, seeing an online and offline audience come together to enjoy the same content and production. When it comes to the ratio of physically present and remote audience members, the way that a hybrid event is structured can vary. But the core concept remains the same: a physical event with an on and offline audience.
The appeal of these events is clear; content can be delivered regardless of any changes in restriction, and you’re able to reach a wider audience with a greater degree of safety. Of course, as an event producer, this means you’ve got your work cut out for you. You need to manage the experience of two very different audiences, across two very different mediums. So you’ll want to be certain you’ve picked a venue that makes this as easy as possible…
How To Choose A Venue For Your Hybrid Event
We’re all anticipating tighter budgets in the wake of COVID-19, and so working with a venue that delivers real value for money when it comes to hybrid events is a must. As with any new production, don’t rush the process of making your venue selection. Yes, demand will be high, but hybrid events are going nowhere. It will pay dividends to develop a strong relationship with a quality venue that can be used now and in the future.
In order to help you narrow down your selection, here are five key areas to focus on when investigating a potential new venue for your next hybrid event.
1. Safety First
This is second nature to us all by now, but cleanliness really is next to godliness when it comes to hybrid event venue selection. As event producers, we carry a duty of care towards our attendees, speakers, vendors, sponsors, and teammates. Look for a venue that goes above and beyond when it comes to prioritising safety.
Ask about certification regarding your venue’s Covid security. Official certification should have been obtained from a recognising governing body such as Navitas. This isn’t a “nice to have” – it’s a legal requirement. Without that certification, nothing else should progress.
Don’t shy away from asking the venue about the ways they ensure their staffs’ training remains up to date. Remember, you’re looking for a proactive and conscientious approach to security here, not a box-ticking exercise. Industry leaders such as Hire Space are providing industry-recognised accreditation, so it’s well worth checking out their recommendations for safer event space.
Take the venue’s physical layout into account. In the good old days, we could pick based on atmosphere and ambiance, but today be on the lookout for larger spaces that enable easy social distancing and a decent amount of correctly space audience seating.
Remember that best practice here extends beyond your presentation space. How will catering be handled? While not many of us will be shedding tears over the loss of the lunchtime buffet queue, you’ll still want to make sure your guests are well-fed, with “touch-free” food offerings.
- Key Takeaway: No certification, no event.
2. Upgraded Facilities
We’ve been battling a global pandemic for over a year at this point, and it’s fair to say that venues haven’t exactly been heaving with bookings during that time frame. Look for a venue that has taken the initiative to predict the uptick in hybrid event demand, and which has proactively upgraded its inhouse facilities to reflect this new direction for our industry during the enforced downtime. What do we mean by improved facilities within the context of hybrid events? Capital stalwarts such as The Mermaid have installed SmartScreen technology at their flagship venue.
As Jonjo Glynn, Venues Director for The Mermaid’s technical solutions specialist White Light explained, “the flexibility of the solution allows the seamless integration of multiple technologies to enhance the immersive environment. We are excited to be placing the UK centre stage with XR technology once again, by offering SmartStage within a prestigious London venue. We are already working with many corporates to plan their virtual and hybrid events for 2021
3. Reliable Internet
Wired internet connection – To facilitate the live stream
If venue internet speeds used to keep you awake at night pre-pandemic, it might be time to buy shares in chamomile tea. A solid wired connection has never been more important. When it comes to delivering a seamless hybrid event, your production will live and die by its internet bandwidth.
The demands of a hybrid event place even more pressure on capacity as a strong, reliable wired connection will be required to facilitate a live stream. As Nick Hoare, Chief Operating Officer of etc.venues, recently noted, “Event planners want broadcast standard pictures, sound, and transmission in world-class venues for the many important hybrid meetings that will be a major feature of events over the coming months.”
Ideally, pick a venue with dedicated IT personnel and a backup plan if things go down. Ask about their use of UPS (uninterruptible power supplies) in case of a main’s failure, and what redundancies they have in place.
Wifi – attendee experience
A strong and reliable wifi connection has been central to the attendee experience for many years now. Today, it’s more than an experience enhancer; if your transmission fails, for a large segment of your audience, there simply won’t be an event to experience at all.
So, how do we guarantee a good connection? Beyond the ritual sacrifice of a few chickens to the great gods of bandwidth the night before our event, ask your venue about the steps they’ve taken to predict and prevent issues. Ask about the number and strategic location of access points, any potential for interference caused by internal physical structures, and the number of devices (not people – we all have more than one wifi-enabled device these days!) that their system is set up to handle.
- Key Takeaway: Great connection at venues is about more than bandwidth.
4. AV Upgrades
In addition to the bigger investments in infrastructure that we covered in our second section, you’d also do well to pay attention to the smaller AV details. This is a great way of separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to finding a venue that has clearly done a good deal of joined-up thinking with regard to the requirements of hosting hybrid events.
They might not have gone the whole hog with a fully equipped SmartScreen studio, but do they, for example, have green screen tech in house? Have they employed expert staff who can help with this, or invested in training their own AV crews to be able to offer this service to clients as an in-house offering?
Ask about their approach to microphones. Have these been upgraded to reflect the enhanced sound quality that hybrid events demand? Have arrays been installed to pick up sound throughout meeting rooms? You can also ask about the more general ways that their internal sound design has been (or can be) adjusted to reflect the changing requirements of a hybrid event.
You should also prepare a few questions regarding the power supply. It’s probably safe to assume that your venue is able to handle the requirements of a hybrid event, but what’s the backup plan in case of a failure?
5. Expertise And Attitude
Finally, of course, you should trust your gut. After a year on the sidelines, we’re all a little rusty in terms of the physical venue game, but when it comes to sensing the venues that are actively embracing this change in our industry, your instinct will still serve you well.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way in which events will be run, forever. Run with a venue that has accepted and reacted to this fact. Beyond the physical upgrades that we’ve already covered, partner with a venue that’s made clear adjustments to their team structure and event packages, offering specific assistance with hybrid events, and specialist staff who are ready to help make your event a success.
- Key Takeaway: Look for venues already championing their hybrid offering
Hybrid Event Venues: Ready To Pick A Winner?
When it comes to selecting the venue for your next hybrid event, we hope these five key criteria have helped get you thinking critically and creatively. We’re all on a steep learning curve when it comes to the way the events industry will operate going forward, and so there’s never been a better time to surround yourself with tried and trusted experts, ready to share their experience and bring the benefits to your event.
If you’re looking for a dependable partner to help guide you through the production of your next hybrid event, London Filmed has doubled down on our ability to provide industry-leading assistance in all aspects of flawless production and attendee experience.
Learn how we can help deliver your hybrid event or get a quote today