Choosing a hybrid event venue presents its own set of challenges. While pre-COVID considerations also play into the decision-making process, the event landscape of 2021 brings more complexity to the table. It’s no longer just about the experience taking place on-site. Now, venues also play a big part in promoting attendee safety and facilitating the technology necessary to engage the virtual audience. The support planners require from their venues increases tenfold in face of a hybrid future. But while we’re all aware of this, confusion might still linger when it comes to actually choosing a hybrid event venue.
Recently, we shared a comprehensive checklist of the most important criteria for this selection. But seeing as how many moving parts are at play here, we wanted to re-visit the topic. This time around, we’re doing a deep dive into the process, and breaking down the most significant things to consider when choosing a hybrid event venue. So let’s get to it!
First Things First
Before getting into specifics, we recommend a broader approach to hybrid venue selection. Yes, there are many tiny little things that will arise from each branch. But in reality, there are only four main aspects that truly matter when you’re considering which place to pick. These are content format, layout, safety, and technology.
Content. We’ve talked about the importance of content for events many times before. And once again, it makes an appearance as one of the main drivers in your decision-making process. What content are your attendees consuming at your event? Why are they watching? For how long? In what language? By allowing content to be the guide that every other aspect has to follow, you’ll make the best choice of venue for everyone involved. We’ll dive deeper into this philosophy later, but put a pin on it for now.
Layout. In the past, the layout of the space was definitely important, but nowhere near as much as it is now. Because of, you know, COVID reasons. This time around, you have to ask yourself: how creative can I be with this specific space in such a way that safety guidelines are respected? Where are stakeholders entering, seating, dining, networking, coworking, relaxing? Is it both pleasant and safe? Do I have the freedom to move things around?
Safety. Yes, everything safety and hygiene-related will have to be top of mind. And it’s extremely important that your venue supports you in ensuring that all guidelines are met and everyone involved is protected. What does the venue provide to ensure a safe and sanitary environment? What’s the capacity? Who’s moderating all of this? How will food preparation work?
Technology. Even if you find a venue that provides the perfect layout and top-notch safety policies, a hybrid event can’t happen successfully if the right technology isn’t there to support it. There’s a considerable portion of your audience attending remotely, be it from their homes or other spokes. Does the venue provide enough bandwidth? Does it have its own studio? What kind of cameras and backdrops do they provide?
When Choosing A Hybrid Event Venue, Think Small
Typically, in-person events were held at big conference halls or magnificent hotels. But now that our mindset is shifting and we’re beginning to fully embrace hybrid, it’s time to let smaller, more independent venues shine. This is not to say that previous places don’t have room in the industry anymore; only that the playing field is now a lot more even.
These intimate venues allow you to not only keep better track of how many people are inside, but also make it easier to ensure everything is under control. There are no crowded hallways and the limited number of seats help control sanitation. Plus, independent venues are usually some of the most unique and creative out there, and they allow you to save up on those huge Internet and AV fees that always drove planners up the wall!
And Think ‘Studio’!
The pandemic forced a lot of businesses to look into the future and reevaluate their business models. Venues were some of the first in the events industry who successfully recalibrated their strategy and quickly began to adapt to the needs of event planners. And they did so in the form of broadcasting studios.
Studios allow you to enhance the entire experience for both audiences through the use of professional lighting, camera shots, Augmented Reality, XR effects, LED backdrops, and more. All of this technology increases the session engagement tenfold for all the parties involved, creating an experience similar to that of a TV broadcast. When choosing a hybrid event venue, we highly recommend that your main hub includes a studio of its own.
Let Content Be Your Guide
Okay, we’re back at it! When we mentioned that content was vital in your decision-making process, we meant it. By designing the entire hybrid event around the content, everything will more easily fall into place. Instead of making the venue choice before everything else, we invite you to take on a different approach and think about the content you’re creating first, and then how that plays into the virtual and physical venue.
Over the past year, everyone learned just how important the virtual ‘venue’ – aka virtual event platform – was. It’s funneling all your content, communication, and it’s the primary tool to figure out your ROI. By setting your goal to make content more accessible and enjoyable to everyone involved before you decide on anything else, you open the opportunity for stronger chapters to grow locally and regionally, that influence your event throughout the globe. From there, you can decide on the pressing needs of your specific event and choose the venue (or venues) accordingly.
Maybe your speakers want to take part in the event all the way from their respective countries – why don’t you try reaching out to those local audiences as well? Attendees can travel to different spokes or a central hub and have the opportunity to still connect with everyone virtually. If you want to know more about the different hybrid event models and how that can play into the choice of a central venue and other localized ones, check out our post on the subject!
Work With The Right Partners
Choosing a hybrid event venue is, frankly, exhausting. As we explained throughout this post, there are many considerations to be made in the process, including, but not limited to:
- Enough power supply;
- Secure and reliable WiFi, supported by an on-site team;
- High-quality cameras that include several recording options;
- High-quality microphones for broadcasting-quality audio;
- Technical support for the AV equipment;
- Safe preparation of food and beverages;
- Layout that respects social distancing guidelines;
- Safety and hygiene protocols.
Doing this research can take up a lot of time, and if you’ve already spent most of it outlining your content and how your event will be designed around it, the task becomes even more complicated. Luckily, working with the right event management partners can save you a headache! Companies like Endless not only take care of the AV and production aspects of both in-person and virtual elements, but they also do the research for you. We work in tandem with our clients in order to find the best solution that is tailored to their needs – we did it with live, digital, and now hybrid as well!
If you still have any questions when it comes to choosing your hybrid event venue, or anything else hybrid-related, make sure you talk to our team. We’re here to help you make sense of it all!