The hybrid event model is growing in popularity, so make sure you choose the best venues for hybrid events.
With the easing of Covid 19 restrictions and event crowds growing incrementally, the hybrid event model is becoming common. A hybrid event combines a virtual and an in-person audience. The programming of a hybrid event straddles both virtual and in-person activities and, hopefully, treats both audiences equally.
But there are many misconceptions about what a hybrid event actually is.
Making recordings of an in-person event available online after the fact does not make it a hybrid event or even a virtual event because a virtual event also involves the audience tuning in to the event in real-time. Live social media interactivity during an event also doesn’t make it a hybrid event.
When approached with creativity, a hybrid event can allow you, as an event planner, to offer multiple versions of the same event all at once. Hybrid events can satisfy a wide range of attendees’ needs as they provide access for those who prefer to engage from the comfort of their own spaces and access for those who prefer to gather in one place with other attendees.
There are two approaches to venues for hybrid events:
Hybrid Event Models
Hubs are small versions of a larger event at a single location. This location then broadcasts the proceedings to the different hubs where attendees gather in person. Virtual attendees are not just limited to streaming the primary event site but can choose to join in on any hubs using different links.
Hubs can also be a revenue driver where access to some hubs is limited to VIPs or has to be purchased at a price beyond the entry ticket. Hubs technically stream the proceedings from the main event in real-time. Still, there is always an opportunity for each one to deviate from the primary programming and stage its own activities.
Clusters are also small gatherings under the same event. However, there is no primary location. Attendees can gather physically in the event locations close to them and connect with other parts of the event online. Alternatively, attendees can join virtually and experience all the different clusters at the click of a button. The downside to this sprawled-out hybrid event is that it puts excessive strain on the team planning it.
So, what do you need from a venue to host a hybrid event successfully?
Finding The Right Hybrid Event Venue
Finding a suitable venue for a hybrid event is no small feat. The venue needs to be a space that can simultaneously accommodate a virtual and an in-person audience. Venues that can successfully host hybrid events must answer positively to these questions:
Are there separate Wi-Fi connections for broadcasting and for guests?
A red flag for a venue’s Wi-Fi connection is if the event streaming connection is the same one that your guests will use. This is a risk you cannot afford to take. It is likely to result in pixellating visuals, poor sound quality, and other faults in your broadcasting. For flawless streaming, you want an uncongested connection. If a venue has only one connection, it might not have the capacity to host a hybrid event.
Are all internet connections strong?
The bandwidth of your broadcasting Wi-Fi is just as critical as the guest Wi-Fi. Your attendees will want to go on social media and use various other apps during your event. If their connection is poor, it will negatively affect your event’s online presence.
It’s vital that your guests can use Twitter so they can tweet the event hashtag. You may also want them to answer questions, quizzes, or polls on other platforms. The bottom line is you cannot afford slow Wi-Fi on both broadcasting and attendee ends. Both connections must be able to withstand being used by many people simultaneously.
Does the venue provide on-site technical support?
If the venue offers technical support staff, it will take a massive load off your shoulders. Some venues for hybrid events will give you the space and use of their equipment, but you still need to bring your own staff to operate that equipment.
Instead of hiring your own technical support, it may be better to consider a venue that offers its own technical staff. These will be people who know how to solve technical issues specific to that venue. Just make sure you schedule a rehearsal to test the equipment before the day of the event.
Does the venue have a broadcasting studio, and is it adequately furnished?
If the venue has a broadcasting studio, you need to tick off equipment such as microphones, speakers, projecting screens, cameras, tripods, and lighting equipment. You also want to make sure that you use the broadcasting software compatible with the equipment they provide. In fact, you want to choose your venue before you purchase the software you will use to ensure that it is not wrong.
What other noises could there potentially be in the venue during your event?
Your venue may be a convention center or a hotel, which means a high likelihood that other events could be going on during your event. In that case, it may be helpful to request soundproofing to be done for your event so that external noises are not audible in your live broadcast.
Is there a backup power supply?
Checking that there are multiple power outlets is standard; you want to ensure that you won’t be plugging 20 extensions into one source. Moreover, you also want to ensure that your event does not suffer should there be a power outage.
Your live and virtual audiences will depend on your power supply. Your in-person attendees will need the lights on, while your virtual audience will need your streaming to continue seamlessly. Thus choosing a venue that has a backup power source like a generator is essential.
Is the venue aesthetic appealing?
Now, you could have all top-of-the-range technical equipment, but if the venue does not look appealing, you have a problem. Yes, you may hire an event designer to spruce the venue up, but you also want to make sure that it’s a space that lends itself to dressing up.
You need venues for hybrid events that will be easy to light up so that your broadcast is bright. Even if you use a green screen for some of your streaming, you still need to consider your in-person attendees who will actually be in the space. Check the walls, ceilings, floors, and windows. Ensure that the venue is lovely in person and an even lovelier space to watch virtually.
Why Hybrid Events?
Lowered carbon emissions
According to this study by Eventcelleny, events that fall somewhere in the spectrum between hybrid (incorporating hubs and clusters) and virtual (fully remote) have significantly lower carbon emissions. Hybrid events with many hubs reduce their carbon emissions to 50% compared to single-site, in-person events. This percentage decreases the closer the hubs are to people’s homes. It drops to 0% for entirely virtual events. The reasoning behind this checks out.
If your attendees are attending events closer to their homes or participating online, there is less fuel used to travel to your event, fewer meals prepared, and even fewer meals thrown away. There is also less transporting of event essentials like chairs, tables, and other furniture.
With a hybrid event, you give attendees more engagement choices, which is likely to encourage more people to attend. You then also have more options to increase your revenue. You can vary your entry prices by making virtual attendance cheaper to entice more guests. Maybe make physical attendance a VIP experience where you give an exclusive experience to fewer attendees.
Any opportunity at event sponsorship is not to be missed. It will not be difficult to get a corporate organization to back you if you promise to expose them to the best of both worlds: a virtual and an in-person audience. In fact, the higher your projected turnout, the more sponsorship you are likely to secure. Hybrid events can diversify your sponsorship pool. You can have different sponsors for your physical location and your virtual space.
More safety protocols can be observed
Many people are still sensitive about social distancing and are reluctant to be in crowded spaces. Therefore, the more room space between your attendees, the better their experience.
Fitting in different time-zones
An event with virtual attendees may have a time-zone problem. And prospective attendees could be dissuaded by your event being late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. With a hybrid event, you can mitigate this by streaming your presentations or speeches at different times, allowing all your virtual attendees to see them live. This will be taxing on your host and speakers, but this will convince more people to attend.
Choosing The Right Venues For Hybrid Events Is About More Choice
Ultimately, hybrid events have more to be gained than lost because they are flexible. Attendees have more choices, but you also have more choices as an event planner. It’s therefore imperative that you educate yourself and choose venues that will allow you to serve both physical and virtual audiences.