Getting set up to deliver high quality hybrid events at your venue.
When the pandemic forced event planners to find alternatives to in-person conferences, training and events, digital solutions became their saviour. In 2020, according to Forbes, there was a 1,000% increase in virtual events.
However, as the world returned to ‘normal’ the many benefits remote interaction and digital platforms offered led to an explosion in hybrid events. This model incorporates the best of both virtual and in-person events.
Welcoming participants without the need for travel saves time, money, carbon, catering and allows control over exactly who’s ‘in the room’. A virtual platform also allows for a plethora of addons and apps – from training, surveys, secret feedback, live comment and related material, as well as, in public facing arenas, advertising, product showcases, paid content and huge amounts of creativity around content provision. On the other hand, no one can deny the importance of in-person events, which is why a mash up of these two formats is such a powerful proposition.
The 2021 Virtual Event Guide reported around 62% of planners said that the future of events is hybrid, and 71% of the companies with 5,000+ employees now include hybrid events in their portfolios.
It isn’t just in the business events space that hybrid is relevant. Weddings are making creative use of the technology, livestreaming parts of the special day, or patching in overseas guests in to give speeches and enjoy the celebrations.
So what infrastructure should a venue look to add in order to cater for the needs of hybrid event planners?
A robust internet connection
This is the backbone of the whole digital side of the offering. Check your internet speed using speedtest.net, and if possible, look out for a dedicated, hard-wired ethernet connection and a minimum of 10Mbps upload and download speeds.
Cameras and tripods
A hybrid event may either be fully live-streamed or use partially recorded video. Event planners wanting multiple camera angles and close ups will require multiple cameras. These should support multiple screen sizes as displays may be 4:3 or 16:9 depending on the devices being used to watch.
If HD is something that your planners want to offer, you need to check that the live stream will support it.
High-quality microphones are essential. Wireless lapel mics are preferable as they appear better on camera and there is less chance of shifting the mic which creates ambient noise for the viewer. Using an audio mixer is a good idea as different presenters have different levels of voice. Wireless handheld mics are essential for Q&As.
Lighting will be required on any stage as well as on in person participants. Lighting is likely to need to include a set of stage lights, spotlights and maybe some colour effects.
A large, LED screen for use in presentations and, if really big, as a backdrop to the main stage.
If you are really going to go the whole hog and want to attract big budget organisers, think about investing in a professional studio space with broadcasting cameras and green screens.
In-house production team
If you can offer an organiser assistance with the technical elements of their event then you will likely win business over a venue that cannot. A lot goes into making sure that everything syncs, that things sound great and that the content being broadcast is of high quality and being streamed to the right people.
If you don’t have the resources in house, think about working with a dedicated external supplier.
It goes without saying that you need to make sure that you have adequate power and access points to accommodate all the equipment needed.
Think about furniture for a variety of formats – comfy sofas for informal discussions, high stools for panel debates and lectern for formal presentations.
There are often lots of large, heavy bits of equipment needed for a hybrid event. Make sure that the areas of your venue you will use have good access should your clients be bringing their tech in themselves.
Learn from the Big Boys
Tobacco Dock, London
The historic Tobacco Dock in London’s east-end launched its ‘Live from Tobacco Dock’ hybrid event offer in June 2020. The ‘plug and play’ package features a 16-metre LED screen and studio quality AV.
With multiple studio spaces, green rooms and catering areas, as well as an experienced broadcast crew to harness the energy and content, planners can build an event to their own specifications.
ICC Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The aptly named ‘Hybrid Studio’ at ICC Belfast in Northern Ireland launched in June 2020.
The facility features LED stage lighting, 4K broadcast cameras, vision mixing and green screen effects, plus a full PA system.
Events can be live, pre-recorded, in-person or fully online. With multiple set-up solutions from high stools and comfy sofas to a more formal lectern and top tables, planners can deliver their message in an environment that suits them.
British Motor Museum, Warwick
Warwickshire-based venue, the British Motor Museum teamed up with audio-visual specialist, Showman Event Support to launch its hybrid offer.
The venue has opened a dedicated filming studio and offers 1GB Wi-Fi, including a 100Mb hard-wired connection, to allow for seamless virtual video conferencing.
“Whilst we identified a growing trend in hybrid events pre-COVID, we anticipate the importance for venues to have the right technology and infrastructure in place to deliver these types of events moving forward. It will become a key requisite for organisers,” says senior sales manager Charlotte Dawes.