You read it right – we’re finally tackling the topic of hybrid venues! If you’ve been paying attention to the event trends set to redefine the industry, you’ll know that hybrid is up there with the most relevant. In fact, according to our State of The Industry Survey, 64% of planners believe hybrid events will be the most common experiences in 2021. Additionally, 90% of interviewees agree that even when the pandemic comes to an end, virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. So, in face of data points like these, it’s only natural that several aspects of the industry are preparing for the upcoming shift.
And this, of course, includes venues! All across the country, we’re seeing an increasing number of convention centers and hotels tackling this new challenge whilst simultaneously attempting to reduce the damage made by the COVID-19 pandemic. From creating broadcast studios of their own to offering monetary incentives, find out how venues are adapting to the hybrid future, and becoming hybrid venues in their own right!
Answering Hybrid Needs
Fresh off of the steep learning curve that was virtual, planners must now brace for the challenges presented by hybrid. These complex experiences will marry the benefits of live and digital, an inescapable new paradigm brought about by the pandemic. We’re now facing a world where venue capacity is restricted, some people won’t feel comfortable traveling, and others simply enjoy the many pros of attending events remotely.
And this has a lot of implications for our industry. For starters, attendee safety will be at the forefront of event planning when it comes to the live portion of hybrid experiences. But as we previously discussed, venues are already preparing for this through the GBAC Star Accreditation.
Inventory control and management;
Personal protective equipment;
Worker health program;
Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals.
Hybrid Venues: Broadcasting Time!
There’s no sugarcoating this – hybrid is tough to pull off. Budgets will have to increase and the needs of two very different audiences will have to be addressed. Right off the bat, one of the most common pitfalls of hybrid is ignoring the virtual attendees. Planners often opt for a flimsy live stream, paying no mind to the intricacies of remote audience engagement.
But after nearly a year of virtual events only, the industry has learned a thing or two. And that includes having a digital-first mindset when it comes to pleasing attendees. Increasingly more planners are opting to use studios to either broadcast live or pre-record the sessions for their virtual events, a very important step towards crafting riveting and engaging experiences.
This newfound knowledge must now be transposed to hybrid when the time comes. And venues have been paying attention to the upcoming needs of planners! Several facilities have begun building their own broadcasting studios that will not only offer an exciting event to those attending physically, but also to those tuning in remotely.
What’s Happening Across The World
Much like the steps being taken to ensure attendee safety, venues and convention centers across the US are stepping up to meet technical hybrid needs. For instance, PCMA has recently reported that New York’s Javits Center has installed its own broadcast studio, alongside Washington D.C.’s GATHER by Events DC, with its own virtual platform and production studio, and Long Beach’s Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center with a multi-camera, multi-space broadcast facility.
Similarly, Northstar Meetings Group has called attention to the cases of Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center, Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center, and Texas’ George R. Brown Convention Center. All of these facilities have taken the jump towards hybrid and debuted their own broadcasting capabilities with all the necessary equipment to live stream or pre-record sessions, as well as hosting the physical parts of the event with varying degrees of capacity.
To further drive home the point that hybrid is the future of the industry, we must only look beyond the US and look at other hybrid venues across the pond. Both PCMA and Northstar have reported that several other venues all over the world are taking similar steps. Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands and Australia’s ICC Sydney are also evolving with times, both debuting their own broadcasting studios.
Going back to what we previously said, yes – hybrid is tough to pull off. But the knowledge that venues are stepping up in America and beyond to make sure some of the most challenging aspects of these experiences are tackled right off the bat takes a big load off of your shoulders. Add to that the right production partners to operate and organize the technical aspects, and you’re already looking at the recipe for a successful hybrid event!
In addition to hygiene precautions and broadcasting capabilities, hybrid venues are also tapping into the power of financial incentives. Meetings Today gives the example of luxury hotel brand Loews, owner of two new venues. As explained in the article, planners can choose between the Virtual Meetings Your Way and The Virtual Presentation Stage packages, which offer discounted guest rooms and food and beverage. These include incentives such as 15% off the best available rate for presenter and production guest rooms or 10% off food and beverage across the hotel.
Once again we see venues taking big steps in order to embrace the advent of hybrid events. Clearly, planners won’t lack support when the time comes to plan these types of experiences. Much like in early 2020, the industry is coming together to tackle new challenges and keep events going stronger than ever!
Hybrid venues are already widely available. From accreditations pertaining to attendee safety to state-of-the-art broadcasting studios, there’s no shortage of evidence that facilities are ready to take on hybrid events. So it’s now up to planners to take the plunge and begin considering budgets, production partners, and strategy so they can too be game-changers. If you have any questions or are in the early stages of planning your event, make sure to contact us. The Endless team is here to help!