After an uncertain year for event organizers (and, let’s be real, everyone else), we’re finally at a point where we can dip our toes back into in-person events. Enter hybrid events, the perfect combo of on-site experiences and virtual access -- a smart format to boost engagement and attendance.
When shifting your event strategy from virtual experiences to hybrid formats that allow guests to gather in-person again, it can be tempting to rush into max-capacity in-real-life events. We all want to get back to the hustle and bustle of the events we used to put on! But with hybrid events as the new norm, there comes a new set of considerations when looking for venues. From tech support to COVID safety, you need to be sure that your venues can handle the unique demands of hybrid events.
In this post, we’ll go over six important questions to ask about both on-site and virtual event components when choosing a venue for a hybrid event.
With the advent of hybrid events, a venue’s basic camera and high-speed internet won’t cut it anymore. To stream professional-grade video and audio from your on-site event to your online audience, you’ll need to find a venue that goes beyond the basic recording setup.
Start by identifying your tech needs. What are your in-person event components, and what are your virtual components? If you host a trade show that’s live-streaming in real time to virtual attendees, you’ll need a venue with a more robust tech infrastructure. If you’re putting on an in-person conference and making video content available online after the fact, you might be able to get away with a simpler setup.
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) lays out the most important tech needs for hybrid events; consider the following when you’re looking through a prospective venue’s tech specs:
Keep in mind that if you're using PheedLoop, you and your AV team can take immediate advantage of our industry leading native RTMP solutions so that you have a perfectly seamless broadcast from on-site to at-home!
As much as we wish we could flip a switch and not have to worry about hand sanitizer stations or 6-feet-apart signs ever again, COVID safety protocols should be top of mind when choosing a venue for your hybrid event. Keep your on-site guests safe as we transition out of the worst of the pandemic by opting to host your in-person components at a venue that’s working to prevent the spread.
Key COVID-19 safety protocols to consider include:
Again, if you're using PheedLoop, a key tech component you'll want to use is the Touchless Check-In system, as it's at check-in where a significant amount of contact takes place. We've upgraded and refreshed our check-in kiosks and software that you can run on your own devices to make this as touch-free an experience as possible!
You might see some new terms in your venue contracts in a post-COVID world. With the seemingly impossible turning the world upside down, venues are going to want to make sure that they don’t get caught in financially compromising contracts. Pre-COVID contracts won’t be enough to protect you from uncertainty, so aim for a comprehensive agreement that covers all your bases.
After the events of the past year or so, venues might start including the following clauses pertaining to COVID safety and event management in their contracts:
Venues likely have insurance to protect themselves, but it still may be worth looking into purchasing event insurance for the on-site components of your hybrid event. We hear it time and time again these days: you can never be too careful.
You know what gear you’ll need to pull off a stellar hybrid event, you have your COVID safety plan in place and your contract is looking good -- so how much is your hybrid event going to run you? With the added elements of engaging and broadcasting to online attendees while simultaneously running your on-site experience, hybrid events are likely going to cost more than an all-virtual event or your standard, pre-pandemic in-person event.
That doesn’t mean you should ditch your hybrid event strategy, as event professionals see hybrid formats leading the way forward. Here are some cost-related hurdles you might run into when planning the in-person side of your next hybrid event:
A major benefit of hybrid events is that you can host a one-of-a-kind, experiential event for your on-site attendees while still seeing big audience turnout from your virtual sessions. With COVID in the picture, you’ll probably run into reduced capacity venues, but don’t let the fear of low attendance or smaller capacity deter you from incorporating in-person elements anyway.
Find a venue that strikes the balance between safety and guest count. Venues might be tempted to open at max capacity before it’s safe to do so, but prioritize a space that’s at least large enough for attendees to spread out. Ask for floorplans and capacities that adjust for socially-distanced setups, especially in common areas and session rooms. Make sure to account for your team and event staff in total counts!
Keep an eye out for our new seat planner and exhibit floor plan features, by the way! We're working on a social-distancing assessment tool which will automatically determine based on your inputs how suitable your plans really are!
As we rethink the way events are run, making events more sustainable should be top of mind for event organizers. Eric Wallinger, director of sustainability at MeetGreen, gives the alarming figure that “larger convention center-based events are reporting waste volumes well above 500,000 pounds over a 5-6 day period on a regular basis.”
Returning to the way events used to be run, with little regard for waste production or energy usage, will have a hugely detrimental effect on our world.
Why shouldn’t event professionals seek to minimize their events’ environmental impact? Virtual events have the upper hand when it comes to sustainability, but you can feel comfortable with your hybrid event’s effect on the environment by choosing a venue with a few key sustainability considerations:
Go into your next hybrid event with peace of mind by asking prospective venues the big questions. How are they handling COVID? Can they support the advanced tech needs that come with a hybrid event? Make sure your event works for you, not against you, by choosing a venue that prioritizes smart tech, safety and sustainability for a hybrid experience that goes off without a hitch.
Choose a hybrid event management platform that works seamlessly between your on-site experience and your virtual event. Check out PheedLoop!