January 13, 2022
How To Choose A Venue For A Hybrid Event
BY Nick Forster
January 13th, 2022
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, they’re 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 to your audience wherever they are in the world. 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
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. Upgraded Facilities
Look for a venue that has taken the initiative to predict the uptick in hybrid event demand, and which has proactively upgraded its in-house facilities to reflect this new direction for our industry. 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.”
2. Reliable Internet
Wired internet connection – To facilitate the live stream
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 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? Ask your venue about the steps they’ve taken to predict and prevent issues, 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
3. 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?
4. Style & Ambience
First impressions count, on and off-screen. While we never suggest style over substance – make sure all the practical and technical issues are taken care of first – the venue you choose needs to complement the type and tone of your content, be suitable for the audience that you are expecting, and help you reach your event objectives.
If you’re looking for distinctive spaces in the UK, including heritage buildings, museums, or how about a distillery? take a look at Unlocked, a company reviving unique spaces for the events industry. There’s no reason why these venues can’t be the unforgettable backdrop of your hybrid event with the correct technical setup. If it is a space in central London you’re looking for, Lumiere London has a small selection of boutique venues that are perfectly equipt for hybrid events of all sizes. Both can also help you with catering, and event engagement activities.
When looking at venues, don’t forget to analyse it from the lens of a virtual attendee – does each area have impact on screen? Will it work with your agenda and content? With hybrid, your venue needs to work for both audiences.
- Key Takeaway: Consider the venue from both angles – how it functions in-person, and how it looks on screen
5. Expertise And Attitude
Finally, of course, you should trust your gut. 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 that champion 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. The events industry is in constant flux, 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, we’ve doubled down on our ability to provide industry-leading assistance in all aspects of flawless production and attendee experience.