Whilst virtual events were a life-saver back in 2020, it's clear to see that hybrid events are the new norm going forward, blending those all-important in-person experiences with a virtual option too.
It's important that the venues we choose for these hybrid events are suitable for our changing event needs and that we keep everyone safe in the process. So, here's a list of 5 key things you should consider when choosing the perfect hybrid event venue in 2022. We've also written a piece on finding a venue in a post-pandemic world for further guidance.
1. A strong Internet connection
This is going to be the bread and butter of your hybrid event venue search. If the Internet isn't strong enough to handle the live stream and keeps dropping in and out, this will make for a terrible experience for your virtual attendees and they will eventually just leave. Likewise, if you're patching in a speaker virtually and their presentation keeps cutting out, your in-person attendees will also be less than impressed and may call it a day, too.
As noted in our Hybrid 101 guide, check the internet speed using speedtest.net, and if possible, look out for a dedicated, hard-wired ethernet connection and a minimum of 10Mbp upload and download speeds. This will ensure everything runs smoothly on the day and provides a great experience for all attendees.
Also, make sure the venue has adequate power and access points to accommodate everything you need for the live stream and your hybrid event platform.
2. In-house production team
With hybrid events comes a lot of technical logistics. Streaming the right session to the right people at the right time, all whilst ensuring everything looks and sounds perfect, is no mean feat. Save yourself the hassle and find a venue with a knowledgeable tech team to take care of everything for you from lighting to lapel mics, and of course all of the production on the virtual side too for your chosen hybrid event platform (we recommend Arena!). If you don't want to opt for the in-house supplier, make sure you check with the venue that you're allowed to bring in your own AV team and that there is enough space for everything they need.
3. Loading, access and set-up information
Ensure your venue offers easy access to the necessary event spaces, and that the technicians have enough room to set up everything up and work comfortably. Top tip: double-check the times you have venue access from - there's nothing worse than arriving with lots of heavy, expensive equipment only to be told you can't get in yet.
4. Catering options
Gone are the days of buffets for 500 people! As laid out in the Safer Venues Accreditation, hygiene surrounding food and drink at events needs to be stepped up a level. Contact-free bento boxes, self-service stations for drinks, and taking extra precautions such as swapping out utensils every half an hour and lots of hand-washing are all necessary to enforce.
Chat to your venue about how they will cater your event; many have developed new systems and processes to ensure that hygiene is their number one priority to keep your delegates safe, so just ask! The below image is a delicious bento box we received at a hybrid away day at RSA House.
5. Good communication between organiser and venue
It's all very well choosing a venue that suits your event's needs, but what about them? Is the venue comfortable with hosting your event? Do they feel confident that they can deliver a great experience for your attendees and clients?
Encourage honest communication with your venue to ensure everyone is happy and confident with the brief. It's much better to be open and honest from the get-go than try and force something that just doesn't work, so speak to them, collaborate with them, and work together with them.
It's also really important to understand their cancellation policies, in case the event can no longer go ahead. For all events booked through Hire Space, we offer a Covid Cover Guarantee, which enables you to effortlessly switch to a virtual event up to 14 days before the event free of charge.
If you're a venue and are in need of some further guidance, check out our piece on 5 Essential Ways Venues Can Be Prepared For A Post-Pandemic World, or read about our Safer Venues Accreditation. You can also read our piece on making your venue more accessible, to ensure you're doing all you can to make your venue more inclusive.
We hope this piece helps you on your search for the perfect hybrid event venue. For more guidance, or to see how we can help you plan your hybrid events, just book a free consultation below.