Hybrid events are the hot topic in the events world this year. But moving into a hybrid setup will be more challenging for an event organiser. It brings with it a lot more reliance on technology and equipment which you may not have had experience with before.

That’s why we’re sharing our top tips on what you should be considering when choosing a venue for your upcoming hybrid event:

1 - Event Production Partner

During lockdown, you may have utilised technologies such as Zoom and Teams to be able to host your event still, albeit in a virtual setting. These platforms are all well and good, and you may even wish to utilise them for your hybrid event, but you will still need additional equipment and support.

It’s imperative to bring on board an event production partner to assist you with your hybrid event. There’s nothing worse than trying to host an event, whilst dealing with delegate registration, technical problems, presenter problems etc. Your event production partner will have the necessary experience and equipment in place to deliver your hybrid event with minimal technical issues.

Choosing your event production partner is just as important as choosing your venue. You will have to work very closely and have several meetings to establish a delivery plan for your hybrid event.

Many venues will have suppliers who provide rental services to the venue, and they may recommend these to you when enquiring. Some suppliers will be small companies who can accommodate the rental of a projector or PA system. Still, they may not have the necessary experience in delivering virtual and hybrid events. Suppose you choose to utilise the venue’s supplier. In that case, it’s imperative to establish very early on if they have the necessary skills, experience, and equipment in place to be able to facilitate the delivery of the event.

If you’re looking to host several hybrid events, it’s sometimes more beneficial to contract your own event production partner. You can build a close working relationship with them, so they can better understand your events and what’s required, often taking the lead when dealing with venues.

2 - Internet connection

It’s possibly never been at the top of a requirements list for finding a venue, but the top consideration above everything else should be internet connectivity for hybrid events.

Many venues have Wi-Fi installed, which is generally free to access for on-site guests, but this kind of connection isn’t ideal for a hybrid event. Some venues will advise that they have a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi system in place, which they believe will accommodate your event. Still, in reality, this often isn’t the case as more guest’s logon to the Wi-Fi, the overall speed and reliability of the connection is reduced. Generally speaking, venues don’t have the networking or internet connectivity infrastructure in place to stream your event.

When considering a venue for your hybrid event, you should ensure they can provide you with a hardwired network connection. This is imperative as hardwired connections are more reliable and less prone to connection problems than Wi-Fi.

It’s essential for venues that don’t have dedicated connections that you give them as much notice as possible. Venues often outsource the management of their internal networks to a third party. So, they may need to raise a ticket to have a network access port setup in a function suite. This can take several days to organise and get set up.

3 - Function rooms & Layouts

As we currently write this, there has been no guidance issued with regards to meetings or events held after the current lockdown has been eased. That said, it’s anticipated that there will be some restrictions in place for social distancing etc. in the coming months.

It’s crucial when planning your hybrid event that you consider any technical teams who will be needed on-site to deliver your event. You may not have had to consider this in previous years, as social distancing wasn’t a thing. But, it’s important to understand how much additional space is required for the necessary equipment and staff to stream your event. Your event production partner will be able to advise further on this.

You should also consider your on-site delegates. It’s expected that you may have to spread delegates out to be able to observe social distancing. This creates a few issues, as people may not see screens showing presentations or hear presenters speak. You may not have had to utilise a PA system when you previously held an event, but as you spread your delegates out, hearing the presenter will become problematic. Depending on the layout of the function suite, you may also need to consider having additional screens so all delegates can see presentations.

Another aspect you will need to consider which you possibly may not have previously is cameras and their locations. Essentially the cameras capturing the event are your online delegates, and the placement of these should be just as important as your on-site delegates. You should try to ensure that the viewing angle of the cameras cannot be blocked. Again, your event production partner will be able to advise further on this.

4 - Rehearsal & setup time

You may not have required rehearsal time when previously holding an event. Still, it’s important to have rehearsal time for your presenters, especially if they’re not experienced talking to the camera. Rehearsals also give technical teams the chance to run through the event, tightening things such as transitions and camera positions for the main event. It’s also a good time to spot potential problems which may impact the event.

Time for setup is also going to be something you may not have had to consider previously. Depending on the complexity of your event and the equipment being used, time will be required by the technical team to get everything set up, tested and working.

Some venues may have already accounted for this additional time in your contract, but It’s important to speak with your venue regards to setup time. Generally speaking, adequate time isn’t typically included in contracts. Where possible, the day prior to the event would be advised to set up all the technical equipment.

Test, test and test some more – your technical team cannot test the setup and equipment enough. Connectivity and technology can sometimes falter, even when set up in precisely the same way, so allocating enough time for testing is paramount in reducing technical issues during the event.

5 - Schedule & timings

Your timings and schedule will have varied somewhat from when you previously ran your event. Instead of having to only consider in-person delegate registration, you will need to look at possibly staggering registration times to avoid excessive queueing, and issues with using new methods of registration which delegates may be unfamiliar with. You will also need to accommodate online delegates registration and any technical difficulties they may experience. All of these will take additional time to manage and process and should be built into your schedule.

You should also ensure that your venue of choice is able to accommodate areas for registration which avoid potential bottlenecks and allow for social distancing. Utilising tools such as tensile barriers will help keep delegates flowing smoothly.

You may wish to consider using digital signage solutions to help aid moving delegates safely around the venue and displaying notices such as event agendas to avoid physical print outs which may not be permitted due to cross-contamination.

If you’re considering moving to a hybrid event setup and aren’t sure where to start, or you have a hybrid event coming up and need technical support our team is on hand. We’ve been delivering digital event elements for years.

Our team is highly experienced in delivering both small- and large-scale events of all shapes and sizes and will work with you to develop a solution, so why not contact us today!

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