With the current heavy focus on virtual events, it can be easy to forget that eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later!), we will return to hosting at least part of our events in-person, at physical venues.
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. Here's a list on 6 key things you should consider when choosing the perfect hybrid event venue in 2021. 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, our go-to production supplier London Filmed recommends that you 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 (have you checked out Arena yet by the way?!). 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.
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. Safety measures in place
Keeping your delegates safe is going to be a key part of the hybrid event planning process. We recommend becoming an accredited Safer Events Organiser and reading the Safer Events White Paper so that you know exactly what to look out for. For example, how will the venue roll out contact tracing? Will delegates be able to go through contactless check-in? Will they provide hand sanitiser? How often will they disinfect each room? How will they facilitate and enforce social distancing? Compile a list of questions for your preferred venue on the safety precautions they have, or will, put in place.
If you're a venue and aren't sure about the safety measures you need to have in place, we strongly recommend becoming undertaking the Safer Events Accreditation for Venues.
5. 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 our hybrid away day at RSA House.
6. 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.
For more insight from the venue perspective, read an interview with Daniel Smith, Head of Event Operations at Tobacco Dock, or watch a session from EventLAB 2020 with Adam Simpson, Director of Marketing and US Sales from etc.venues. 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.
We hope this piece helps you on your search for the perfect hybrid event venue. To see a hybrid event in action, check out our case study on a Hire Space hybrid away at RSA House. For more guidance, or to see how we can help you plan your hybrid events, just book a free consultation below.
For more guidance around hybrid events, check out our ultimate guide. Need some further help in the planning process? Hire Space 360 is everything the modern event planner needs - with unlimited access to tech, venue and supplier sourcing, on-demand eventprofs and more.