July 13, 2021
Hybrid Horrors: 5 Venue Factors To Avoid
BY Nick Forster
July 13th, 2021
Sidestep some of the issues more commonly associated with hybrid event venues by watching out for these warning signs and making the right venue choice.
As the events industry starts to grind back into gear and after months out of action, venues will be keen to sell their services. With so many facilities to choose from, and many picking up on the hybrid event concept as a winning strategy for venues and event producers alike, how can you be sure to choose the space that’s right for you?
This article will explore a few of the factors to watch out for when selecting a venue for your hybrid event. Remember, venues have had a while to hone their offering now, so it will pay dividends to ensure that what’s promised on slick new web pages and promotional campaigns tallies with the actual experience a venue can deliver.
Want to know if a venue is capable of a great hybrid experience? Read on to learn what to watch out for…
What Is A Hybrid Event?
Hybrid events represent a very exciting development for the events industry. As we emerge blinking into the light, after more than a year of lockdowns and social distancing, a hybrid event offers a chance to recapture the buzz we all miss from a live production and audience, with the safety (and additional capacity) made possible by an online element.
By combining an in-person event with a virtual audience, theoretically, we can enjoy the benefits of both. As event producers, this does mean approaching some aspects of management and planning in a new light – and there are a few potential pitfalls that you’ll want to ensure you’re prepared for – but largely, hybrid events offer a really refreshing new format, with heaps of scope for creativity and engagement.
Hybrid Event Venues: How to Dodge the Red Flags
The events industry was hit hard by COVID-19, and it’s safe to say we’re all already to come out swinging when it comes to making our first events back in the game a success. There’s more than personal pride riding on these early productions however. We need to prove to our audiences that we’ve earned the trust they place in us, by presenting events that are safe, as well as successful.
Our venue choice will play a huge role in determining how well these early hybrid events are received, so it pays to do some careful research. Go out of your way to explore the areas where venue issues could see hybrid events run into difficulties. Read on to learn more about the red flags you’ll want to avoid.
1. A Performative Approach to Safety
The ongoing pandemic has firmly drilled the importance of venue hygiene and cleanliness practices into event producers everywhere. Without certification that your venue is officially sanctioned as Covid secure, your event isn’t legal.
With this in mind, it’s a given that you’ll pick a venue with certain baseline measures in place. But we’d argue that it’s important to go above and beyond here. There’s more than the safety of your audience, speakers, crew and colleagues at stake, the reputation of our industry rests on events being safe and running without any kind of subsequent medical consequence.
As you’re evaluating potential hybrid event venues, ask questions about their approach to bio-security. Are they going over and above, or simply ticking boxes? If you’re visiting the venue in person, take note of how well social distancing is naturally observed and enabled at your meeting.
Are hand gel dispensers full? How often are their staff trained regarding best practices? Do the measures they’ve put in place give the same protection to their own staff, and your crew – or have they largely focused on attendee experience?
Don’t be afraid to get nosy when it comes to the way the venue in question takes precautions; the right venue will be only too happy to tell you in great detail about how they’re going over and above to ensure the total safety and comfort of everyone associated with your event.
2. No Specialist Facilities
Almost all organisations have seen some aspect of their business change as a result of the pandemic, and venues are no exception. With the shutters down for much of the last year, the industry has had a good stretch of time in which to make plans for how to tackle the new landscape of opportunity, as things open up again.
A venue that hasn’t upped its game to offer specialist hybrid facilities shows, at best, lack of foresight and ambition. Of course a range of factors will determine a venue’s ability to invest heavily in new infrastructure, but even simple tweaks, such as the addition of extra mic arrays to pick up live audience reaction and convey this to an online audience, show that a venue is being proactive and thinking about giving the best and most immersive experiences.
3. A History of Outages
We all live in fear of a power outage when it comes to our events – but this matters so much more when it comes to a hybrid production! If the lights go out, a live audience will generally understand and be tolerant, perhaps even share a little camaraderie with fellow attendees. But if your feed to remote viewers cuts out, your offline engagement is devastated. With no easy way of quickly communicating the issue, viewers may assume the fault lies with them, and many will tune out.
The stability of your venue’s connection – both in terms of power supply and internet network – really matters. While accidents happen, you’re well within your rights to ask about the frequency of any previous incidents, and to find out if any recurring problems linked either to infrastructure, supplier or location may exist.
Regardless of your venue’s track record, you should also be looking for a good backup plan when it comes to problems of this nature. Be sure to ask about generators, additional power sources, uninterruptible power supplies and more.
Staffing also has a part to play here. Find out if they have personnel accountable for the smooth running of a stable connection, and learn about the procedures that will kick in if a problem is detected. Prevention is better than cure – but you’ll still want a cure handy if the worst does happen! If your venue can’t give satisfactory answers, look elsewhere.
4. Lack of Specialist Staff
Just as you’d expect a venue to have got its act together with regard to specialist technical equipment and infrastructure in response to the rise of hybrid events, you should also look for dedicated staff who have expertise in the areas that this manner of production demands.
Ideally, and if the venue is large enough to merit one, there should be a single point of contact overseeing all hybrid event bookings and making sure they’re delivered successfully. This not only ensures the best experience and outcome for your event, it shows that the venue is significantly invested in making hybrid events a priority.
If the venue you’re viewing hasn’t gone to lengths to secure training or upskilling for its in-house staff, especially the AV technicians who’ll be working directly on hybrid productions, this should raise a few questioning eyebrows.
5. Low Enthusiasm and Innovation
Finally, take a step back and assess the way that the venue in question is presenting hybrid events as an option. Do they view them as a “stop gap” before live events with bigger capacities are possible once again? Or are they fully invested in the power and potential of hybrid events in their own right – ready to get creative and push the boundaries of this format for you?
Looking for a venue that’s clearly defined its offering, and makes specific reference to hybrid events in its promotional and digital content. If they don’t offer hybrid event packages and pricing, is this a great indication of their commitment to the format?
The Perfect Hybrid Event Venue is Out There…
The hybrid event is going nowhere. Many venues will start to promote their ability to host these productions, and not all will come up to the high standards your audience, speakers and sponsors deserve.
Those that do will already have put in the research and groundwork to ensure their suitability and your success. Take a look at Lumiere London, Village Underground, and Unlocked for a range of venues in London that are well equipped for hybrid events.
By keeping these five warning signs front of mind as you make your venue selection, you can increase your chances of picking the perfect venue for your next hybrid event, and enjoy the format to its fullest potential.
If you’re in need of an expert production partner to help guide you through the smooth running of your hybrid event, London Filmed invested heavily in our hybrid events specialism. From our multifunctional hybrid studio to flawless multi-screen production, we’re ready to be a big part of the future of this exciting new event format.