The events industry has gone through a massive evolution in the past two years. With the continuing threat of COVID-19, its given event managers, producers and other key staff some tough choices to make. Least of which is the decision to modify traditionally in-person events to a hybrid-style or fully virtual approach. When hosting a hybrid event in 2021, there are many nuances to consider as event professionals try to keep their budget in check, deal with reduced in-person audience sizes and tackle new, unique technology challenges, among several other crucial to-do items.
So, if this is your first time hosting a hybrid event, here are some guidelines on choosing the appropriate venue for your upcoming engagement — let’s take a look.
Reconsider Venue Capacity Limits
One of the main considerations when choosing a venue for your hybrid event is the audience size. Since you’re now hosting a large portion of attendees in a virtual manner, you’ll likely need to find a smaller-capacity venue for a reduced number of in-person attendees. Not only will you have to consider how many people to accommodate for, you’ll need to consider local government requirements on social distancing, knowing that you may be required to reduce the number of people that can be in a given room, while still accommodating staff members, exhibitors and event equipment.
Cover Your Basic Safety Precautions
Hybrid events have become the norm in the events industry, due to the safety protocols around coronavirus. The ability to keep people safe is key in 2021. As such, inquire about the venue’s approach to social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, room cleaning schedules, contactless check-ins, and food and beverage hygiene. There also may be requirements for reduced occupancy levels in a given space. Make sure to cover the following questions:
What are the cleaning and hygiene processes like at the venue?
What percent capacity of people are rooms allowed to hold?
What are the social distancing or mask policies for attendees?
Do we need to install plastic barriers around the venue?
Can attendees sit next to each other?
How is food and drink preparation handled?
What safety protocols does the venue staff follow?
Implement A Virtual Event Component
With a reputable hybrid platform, you can easily integrate engagement features to provide better content streaming, networking opportunities, data tracking, and a higher-quality experience overall to those tuning in online. The right software ensures that those virtual attendees receive an equally great way to feel as though their ticket purchase was worth the money. Utilize useful tools like live polling, custom dashboards, virtual breakout sessions and more to keep everyone actively interested in the event’s happenings.
Find A Venue With Fast Internet
When hosting a hybrid event, you’ll need to find a location that offers tried-and-true internet speeds. Make sure to run speed tests while touring a given venue, using a program like Google’s Project Stream. Consider similar elements like bandwidth and, if possible, see if you can run your virtual event content via a hard-wired ethernet connection, with the correct megabyte capacity of download and upload speeds for the file sizes of your content. This way, remote viewers shouldn’t have any trouble watching and participating in your live stream.
Use In-House Or Third-Party Venue Support
Although some aspects of your virtual event components may be automated through a platform, you’ll need the proper staff to help run certain things like video streams, live Q&A sessions, private chat and live polling. As such, an injection of support from either the venue’s in-house team or a third-party support system could come in handy to ensure the hybrid experience runs smoothly. If you’re thinking of outsourcing technical support, make sure to check with the venue to see that you’re allowed to bring your own team.
Gather The Right Venue Equipment
As with any event, you’ll need the right equipment to put on the best show. Make sure to ask about the following equipment, and make an inventory of what you may need to supply yourself:
Cameras that can beam to both projectors and a live stream, along with other related gear like tripods, lens filters and video monitors.
Microphones, PA system and mixing boards to run high-quality audio to both in-person and virtual audiences.
Stage lighting, LED backdrops or spotlights so that attendees can properly see what’s happening on stage.
Appropriate power capabilities, outlets and extension cords. Ensure there is a backup master power supply in case your event experiences hiccups.
Every venue offers unique event packages, with most supplying some form of in-house support, so you don’t have to source the appropriate people to operate all this equipment. If you are hiring outside support, consider negotiating the price down since it will likely consume a large part of your budget.
Discuss Food & Drink Options
For a gathering of in-person attendees, you may want to skip the buffet this time around. Instead, discuss food and drink options that are focused on safer preparation. For example, put together meal boxes that can be passed out to hungry attendees and use self-service drink stations that are regularly sanitized. Make sure the catering staff swaps out utensils regularly and practices good hygiene with regular hand washing, wearing of masks, rubber gloves and hair nets. Many venues have taken extra steps to ensure that they can supply safe catering options to clients, so request the necessary information before deciding to serve meals.
Set Up Virtual Booths For Sponsors
Rather than using up a lot of crucial space for sponsor and participant booths, move them to an online venue. When you choose the right hybrid event platform, you get the ability to deliver a truly unique, but familiar way to connect your speakers with your audience. With a virtual speaker booth, for example, presenters get their own portal which they can customize how they wish, adding images, videos, slides and other engagement features like one-on-one chat. Exhibitor booths, on the other hand, allow you to sort sponsors and exhibitors into different tiers, controlling attendee access to specific content.
Are you searching for a better hybrid event experience?
Turn to the event specialists at Second Stage, the world’s leading hybrid event platform and service provider. It’s our job to help you take control of upcoming virtual and in-person engagements so you can provide your audience with an unforgettable experience. With features that are proven to engage online attendees, lead-generation capabilities that will optimize your pipeline, data analytics that provide real-time information to your team, and so much more, you have access to what you need right at your fingertips.
Craft a memorable event that boosts the connection between company and consumer – contact us today to learn more about our solutions or speak with a representative.