Hybrid events are slated to be the most popular event type in 2021. With the shift to digital events in the past year and the rise of digital technologies that enable hybrid meetings, event marketers and event planners should expect hybrid events to take precedence in the near future.
A successful hybrid event, much like any other type of event, can make or break the event’s success. That is why your event venue must be prepared to host planned digital components.
You may think that any venue will be suitable for digitizing, but think again. Venues need to be prepared for going digital. Here are some things to look for when choosing a hybrid event venue:
Choosing a Venue: How are Hybrid Events Different?
There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right venue. Depending on your event’s size, the duration, and the type of audience you expect, event organizers have to consider many elements of a live event venue to make sure that it works.
Event organizers mostly consider:
- The cost of the venue
- The size of the event
- Venue availability
- And coordination with other event teams
When switching to a hybrid format, these factors are still important. However, you may look at them differently. For example, you may want to cap the size of your in-person event for some reason. This will help you keep the attendee count low, and you can use a “smaller” or more boutique event venue.
However, there are some trade-offs. Just because you can scale down does not mean that the venue’s cost will also be smaller or more affordable. A hybrid event needs some other factors, like a strong and robust internet connection and the ability to connect and integrate AV equipment, for example.
While most event venues have updated their technology, you may have to pay more for early access to the venue to test equipment or for the additional power supply needed.
In any case, planning for a hybrid venue is a little different than a standard, in-person venue. Here are some of the top things to consider:
Your event-goers will desire internet connectivity, but your team will also need a high-quality stream so that the online session streaming is uninterrupted. The venue you will go with will need to have its event internet service provider (ISP) capable of processing a high internet bandwidth and keeping the connection secure.
Make sure to consider the following regarding event Wifi:
- Secure and reliable, especially in high-density environments.
- Supported by a reliable on-site networking engineering team in case of outages.
- Choose a high dedicated bandwidth, which limits the amount of downtime the ISP might experience in a month.
- If the venue can’t get dedicated bandwidth, then they likely don’t have fibre optic cable installed.
- Look for a minimum of 10GB of streaming speeds with low latency.
- Commercial venues typically have 2.4 GHz frequency, so be sure to find a venue that offers Wifi Dual Band (which provides both 2.4 and 5 GHz for certain users).
- You’ll want Wifi that can be restricted to specific users. For example, if you’re offering guest access, recognize that about 10% of users will access the internet at one time. This amount might be greater at a corporate event, hybrid conference, or hybrid meeting. Consider Wifi traffic volume.
- 10MB per 100 users is okay for a high usage crowd; 2MB per 100 users is okay for low-usage crowds or smaller events.
- Your live stream will need higher stream quality, high bandwidth, and it will require more of the power supply.
- A test or ping speed should run around 30ms or less and a rate of 2MB per 100 users.
Navigating what your hybrid event needs in terms of internet connectivity may be tricky. Luckily, many event venues are already on top of this. So all you need to do is inform the venue of your needs. You may have to pick larger streaming packages (as this may be a scalable option).
Space and Equipment
Your event space should come prepared with:
- Cameras (with a range of options, including HD, multiple cameras, tripods and camera stands, live-streaming cameras, and cameras that support a range of screen sizes).
- High-quality microphones that can connect to the video stream.
- An AV operator who can control when the audio connection switches mics to avoid feedback and allow for the audience to be audible during question and answer sessions.
- A video operator to control the video options, ensuring that the video is being recorded at all times and that the feed is switching appropriately for the online live stream.
- The ability to test the equipment to make sure that the virtual audience can hear and see correctly; you’ll also want to vet the online streaming capabilities through your online event platform so that you know what browsers and/or operating systems the stream works with.
- Technical support, not just for the Wifi but for AV equipment as there is the chance that this equipment malfunctions.
As mentioned previously, the venue you go with should provide in-house support for managing the audio, video, technical equipment (which should be provided), and Wifi connectivity.
If they are not providing this, you should negotiate pricing with potential event venue contracts since you will have to source the technology yourself. Considering that you would have to hire an AV team to bring their own equipment to your event for multiple days, this would eat up a considerable portion of your budget.
Ask if the venue offers IT support for streaming, networking engineers, charging stations, ethernet hookups for presenters, and high voltage power supplies.
If the venue cannot provide all of these factors, then you’ll likely have to outsource for them (or choose a different venue). Having someone monitoring the audio, video, internet, and technology is vital so that your event runs flawlessly for both in-person and remote attendees.
Availability and Access
With any technology, you need the ability to hook up your own computers and/or software and test to make sure that things are up and running. If you have some of your team working in tandem with the in-house technical support, then they should go through the specs so that each member of your team knows how things work and how to connect to the AV equipment, the on-site computers, the internet network, overhead projectors, and so on.
If your hybrid venue is available during the time period you want, be sure that your event organizer and the team can access the site early to go through these testing parameters and get your equipment set up. You may also want to get on-site a few weeks in advance so that you can confirm that your operating systems and other technologies are set up and compatible with the venue’s technology.
If you can, coordinate this time period with a test online audience member and online presenter so that you can vet all aspects of the technology and virtual event platform.
Adequate Power Supply
Some older venues may still be getting away with a dated power supply. A dated or small power supply will mean that your event technology might short-circuit or fail in the middle of your event. You need your event power supply to be robust enough to handle several attendees, workers, and technological demands.
If you have high-quality computers, then you’ll need a power supply that can match this. The venue should have a commercial power supply available, but can it scale properly? The venue may be able to fit 500-1,000 attendees. Still, you need to confirm if they can handle AV equipment (such as microphones and speakers for the in-person audience), connecting to a switchboard, encoder, and tower computer, and upload that video/audio live through your virtual platform.
The more people the event can host, the more likely you will need more equipment, technology, and power. Consider these aspects before you go with a “simple” large event venue.
Shifting to hybrid events makes sense for most brands. However, without the proper preparation, there is the chance that you choose an event venue that is not up to snuff. Strongly consider the ability of that event venue to provide seamless hybrid event hosting. Check to ensure that they have hosted hybrid events in the past and are putting your technological concerns front and center.