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How to Choose a Venue for a Hybrid Event
As you begin planning your upcoming events, you may be thinking it’s time to go back to in-person only. After all, most people would agree that in-person events add a key human-interaction element that is hard to replicate virtually.
However, a key lesson the pandemic taught event planners is that providing an impactful experience virtually is possible, and many people actually prefer it. The reasons vary, from not being comfortable in person due to the ongoing spread of Covid-19 to simply not wanting to travel due to family obligations.
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With this in mind, it would be a huge missed opportunity not at least to consider hosting a hybrid event with in-person and virtual attendance options. While providing the virtual option may cause a few people who would typically attend in-person to choose the former, the expanded reach overall will more than make up for it.
Hosting a hybrid event comes with additional logistical challenges though, specifically, how to choose a venue. Let’s take a look at a few factors you should consider when selecting a hybrid event venue.
Brooklynn Expo Center | Developer Week
Choosing a Hybrid Event Venue
One of the biggest factors to consider is how many people the venue can hold. This is something you have to consider with fully in-person events as well, but it’s a bit trickier with hybrid events because you might have a harder time estimating the in-person/hybrid split.
A way to help estimate how many people will be attending in-person is to send out a “save-the-dates”-type invite with a survey attached – well ahead of the scheduled event date and prior to selecting a venue – that asks who plans on attending and whether they prefer virtual or in-person. This of course is just an estimate because until you actually get people to register and RSVP, people’s plans can easily change.
For your first hybrid event, it’s probably a good idea to play it safe and get a bigger venue than might be necessary. This allows you to accommodate if you have an overwhelming majority preferring to attend in person. Then, if a higher percentage choose virtual, the next event you can choose a smaller venue with that prior knowledge in mind. It’s also important to remember that once you select your venue, you can only allow a certain number of in-person registrations and once that is reached, additional registrants must choose virtual.
Brooklynn Expo Center | Developer Week
Another massively important thing to consider when selecting a hybrid event venue is the wifi connectivity and bandwidth needs. If you are thinking to yourself, ‘obviously, you always need amble wifi for an event,’ you are right but it’s more complicated than that.
As opposed to an only in-person event where you just have to make sure you have enough bandwidth to support the presentations, attendees’ devices, and vendor expo internet needs, you also have to consider how much wifi is needed for a seamless streaming experience for virtual attendees. If the live-streamed events are frequently cutting out, or lagging, you run the risk of virtual attendees dropping off and leaving your event unsatisfied with their experience.
When hosting a hybrid event, your equipment needs will change compared to an in-person event. You will have to consider things like lighting, cameras, tripods, microphones, etc.
A lot of these things are needed for in-person events as well, but you’ll need much higher quality equipment, and the importance of it rises when thinking about streaming your presentations.
As with internet needs, if the quality of your stream isn’t high because of bad lighting, poor camera quality, or bad audio, you run the risk of virtual attendees getting frustrated and dropping off.
Some venues may provide this type of equipment, but oftentimes it’s up to you to bring it on your own. Instead of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars outright buying the equipment, consider reaching out to us at eTech for your event equipment rental needs.
Brooklynn Expo Center | Worlds Fair Nano
Another thing to consider when choosing a venue, is what type of staffing help will the venue provide? With events that will be live-streamed, you’ll likely need people manning the cameras and overseeing the entire production.
If you aren’t able to have your own personal staff be your “production team” then it might be worthwhile finding somewhere that will provide the support needed, however, this will almost certainly come with an additional cost.
Most of these tips have been focused on ensuring your virtual attendees get the same high-quality experience as your in-person attendees, but you want to ensure you don’t forget about your live audience and their needs.
When selecting a venue, make sure you are choosing one that is centrally located, and preferably close to a major airport. You want to experience to be as simple as possible for your attendees and ensure that the travel requirements don’t discourage people from attending.
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