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Hybrid event programmes have greater levels of complexity in their design. After all, they need to engage both on-site and virtual audiences. And dealing with a venue provider that can help you manage both experiences will make things a whole lot easier.
There are many venues that claim to offer great hybrid event experiences, but which ones really understand the hybrid event business? To help, we look at some key questions that venues should be able to answer to show they are truly hybrid event centric.
1. What’s Your Experience?
It is fine to ask a venue exactly how much experience they have with hybrid events. You need to know if they have been helping produce hybrid events pre-Covid or whether they are new to the format. You also need to make sure that you are both on the same page when talking about your hybrid event. They come in all shapes and sizes.
Related read: Hybrid Events – Which Model is Best?
Many venues will tell you that they are geared up for hybrid. Some will give you a tour of their recording studio or production gallery. And this tells you all you need to know about their ability to broadcast. And whilst broadcast is a key part of any hybrid event, it is not the only element you need to consider. What you also need to establish is whether you can bring in your own web-streaming company. If the answer is no, then your entire hybrid experience is relying on your venue.
2. What’s the Streaming Strength?
Following on from our point above, you will be able to tell immediately if the venue understands hybrid events when you get into the discussion on connectivity. You should run away if the venue suggests that your web streaming crew use the Wi-Fi that all other on-site attendees and stakeholders will be using.
It is a big red flag. It would demonstrate that the venue didn’t understand the importance of the web-streamers needing a separate dedicated uncontested connection. This is the most important piece of information you need. You may also need more than one uncontested connection so it’s wise to check the capability of the venue.
Be wary of the venue that can provide the connectivity but then wants to charge you a small fortune for providing it. There really is no need for this. The venue can make a separate charge and show it on your invoice, or they can include it as part of the room hire costs, but it shouldn’t be an astronomical figure. Hopefully the days of venues charging eye watering amounts for connectivity are long gone.
3. Is the WI-FI Any Good?
Whilst the streaming connectivity is critical, so too is the Wi-Fi. Despite brilliant event content being delivered, most people still want to check their emails and apps. They will be annoyed if they cannot access the Wi-Fi. It’s also important for audience interaction, when using polls and Q&As etc. You need to know that the Wi-Fi will work when it’s put under stress. The last thing you want is for attendees to complain that they couldn’t connect.
Your job is to find out how robust the Wi-Fi is. Are there any other factors that could impact on your experience? For example, is another event in the venue going to use some of your bandwidth? You can read some useful tips on what to consider around your event Wi-Fi connectivity in this post here.
4. Where is the Technical Support?
One of the crucial issues in deciding whether to use a venue often hinges on how much trust you have in their technical expertise and support. For example, it is imperative to clarify whether venue employees are the technical support or whether it comes from an external provider. If it is contracted, what does that mean in terms of dealing with issues? And will the venue wash their hands of technical challenges?
Find out what hours the technical support is available. You need to know if you are going to be charged a premium rate for hire of venue and staff that is beyond ‘standard’ hours. You need someone from the venue that speaks technical so they can talk technical to your crew. Venue technical support is invaluable and should not be underestimated. The venue person understands how to get on-site technical issues solved.
Being able to talk to the technicians in advance of the event is essential. There is always a lot of behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done before setting up. And of course, testing needs to be done.
Related read: Rehearsals for Virtual Events – How to Get Them Right!
5. Where is the Streaming Room?
You are likely to need more than one room for your hybrid event, but let’s focus here on the main room you will use for the web-streaming. Where is this room in relation to the rest of the venue?
What you are looking for here, is whether the room will pick up lots of noise or whether it is sound proofed sufficiently. Too much ambient noise at any event is never a good thing. But the sound issue is multiplied when web-streaming is involved. The highly sensitive microphones pick up all sorts of noise and this can easily end up in your web-stream and on your recordings.
You don’t want the streaming room to be close to the kitchens, or toilets, or a main thoroughfare ‘walk’ area. And you don’t want your streaming room location to be in the basement. If it’s in the basement you are likely to struggle with connectivity access. It is strongly recommended that you avoid basements.
6. How Much Space is There?
Following on from the room location question, let’s now look at the set-up of the streaming room. What does the room look like? Is there a built in-stage and are you therefore dependent on the venue design?
Where will the streaming company be able to connect to the dedicated internet connection? Will this involve running many metres of cable between the power points? If so, that could create its own health and safety issues.
How much space is there? The venue will provide you with people capacity numbers. But this will not give you the complete answer to your question. The reason being that you will need space for your web-streaming crew and their kit. Plus, you could also need space for the audience interaction crew and their kit. And don’t forget that you will need space for your virtual event producer, runners, and other organising team members. You may also want to set up a studio interview area within the room, which will require space.
It’s worth understanding just how much space is available.
Looking above head height, what do you see? Are the ceilings low or high? Ceiling height will impact on your acoustics and the overall quality of your production. Are there any chandeliers that will get in the way of the line of site for the streaming and recording? Are there any pillars in the room? If so, can you work around them or are the logistical challenges too much? All these things can have a big impact in the way you deliver your hybrid event.
Conclusion –Trust Your Instincts
Choosing a venue that is perfect for your hybrid event is not an easy task. As you can see from the few questions we have raised, there is a lot to consider.
As the venues answer your questions, you will soon get a good sense of their capability and experience. Speak to some of their existing clients who have already successfully run hybrid events. Some venues will ooze reassurance that they know what they are doing and can demonstrate it. However, if you feel that the venue is saying the right things, but you have a nagging sense that something is not right, then trust your gut. Instinct as well as data will help you make the right venue choice for your hybrid event.
Keep in mind that you are producing a programme for two audiences. Keep the user experience in mind and you will be on the right track to contracting your ideal hybrid event venue.
Considering hybrid events? Eventsforce offers an all-in-one platform that makes it easy for you to create engaging experiences for both on-site and virtual attendees – from registration, group ticketing and program management to audience engagement, networking, contactless check-in and apps. Learn more.