When hosting a hybrid event, you must consider the technology for both onsite and virtual elements. Following has a handy check in-person venue check list:
- Physical venue space and design – must accommodate your audience size event with 6ft COVID spacing.
- Bandwidth sufficient to stream single or concurrent sessions: Your internet connection is the most crucial element for your onsite setup. You need to confirm in advance that you have the necessary bandwidth to start your stream with sufficient overhead to handle other onsite responsibilities such as uploading last minute slide changes, updating webcast pages, or pulling in remote speakers on webcam to your event.
The rule of thumb is to request 2x bandwidth required by your event. So, if you are doing 2x 1mbps streams to the webinar, platform then you should ensure accessibility to 4mbps in upstream on the provided network connection.
Many times it is easier to request 10Mbps symmetrical (up and down) at the venue location.
It is common that your team or venue contact may not be non-technically competent. Often, you’ll hear them say things like “we stream out of here all the time” or the “internet is great.” To validate the network’s speed performance, you can do a quick test using free services like https://www.speedtest.net, but this will only partially confirm the network’s speed. So, it is important to ask your venue contact to share valuable information provided by their network manager, as well.
Pro Tip: The connection should be dedicated solely to you. If there are other users present at the venue using the same connection, the speed can fluctuate and lead to disasters as the event goes live and hundreds of attendees in the room begin sharing your bandwidth.
At public venues like hotels and meeting facilities, you will almost always be able to access a wide-open internet connection with no port restrictions but, once again, you should verify this with the technical contact. It is very common for venues to have port locking on the connections they provide. It’s frankly a cash grab – but you need to know if you can put an external switch on the one circuit to connect multiple devices, or if they are going to tag you with more than one. This is not something clients are happy to hear about once onsite if they find out they must pay double (or more) than what they thought they were paying for internet.
- Your workspace or “Tech Table”: It is common for onsite encoding kits to have a very small footprint, yet you should still request a six-foot table to set up your gear. You may want to request a power drop/electrical outlet at your tech table to avoid running extension cords or be obligated to share the drop with the AV team and all its gear.
Word of warning: In our experience, when you share a tech table with AV, they may put an audio tech or switcher next to you to in order to facilitate better communications. But, because AV companies often require a different person to do every task, the person at your table may have a lot more free time. It may be difficult, and you should try not to be rude, but this can be a distraction if they like to chat while they are idle. This happens more than you might think.
- On-site check-in kiosks and QR codes
- Technical set up for on-site presenters
- Venue-specific power and electric
- Health and safety screening tools
- Online and on-site lead capture for sponsor
- Exhibition details (if applicable), including the square feet of the hall, number of exhibitors supported, and, historically, the number of exhibitors that order equipment or services from your audiovisual partner.
- COVID and safety protocols: The health and safety of event attendees has become a major challenge due to COVID-19 risks. Although the pandemic restrictions have now eased, the risk remains. Therefore, you will need to adopt a comprehensive set of safety protocols to ensure that all your participants stay safe and healthy. Here is a look at some key measures you can implement to achieve this.
- Communicate with your stakeholders: You can begin prepping your audience for COVID-related safety measures in the pre-event phase. This can be done by adding a questionnaire to the registration page, asking participants whether they have experienced any COVID symptoms. Such screening makes all registrants feel relaxed that the due diligence is being done.
At the same time, you will need to communicate your needs for safety and health to the management of your decided venue. Whether it’s a hotel or a conference room, the management must be aware of your needs in advance so that they can prepare for it.
- Choose your venue accordingly: The choice of your event’s venue will need to factor in the safety protocols. For instance, if you want to maintain social distancing, you need to have ample space between the seats of the participants. Similarly, diligent maintenance and cleaning of the surfaces must be offered at your chosen venue.
- Masks and sanitizers: When organizing a hybrid event that also involves in-person participants, the state and county may require attendees to wear masks. Either way, consider having a supply of masks and sanitizers on site. A participant may lose or forget the mask. A small application of sanitizer can be made mandatory by stationing someone at the door of a session or venue.
- Provide guidance and support: COVID-19 protocols can seem daunting to some participants and confusing to others. You can make things easier for them by having a specific resource person that provides help and guidance in this regard. Make sure you highlight this person at the very start of the event. You can also set up a health and safety booth to make the support more visible.
- ADA considerations: Many of the participants at your event may have disabilities or limitations. On one hand, it is important to cater to the specific needs of such participants to make the event a worthwhile experience for them. On the other hand, you may need to comply with the specifications laid out in the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act. Here are some things you may consider achieving both things.
- Survey ADA needs during registration: The best time to understand the accessibility needs of your attendees is at the time of registration. You can incorporate a detailed survey into the registration system to gather the accessibility requirements of the registrants. This lets you decide how you can optimize the event experience for individuals with disabilities or special needs.
- Accessible accommodations: For the in-person participants, you will need to include accessibility considerations when planning accommodation. If you are offering accommodation to the attendees, make sure all arrangements are in place to facilitate specials-needs guests. You may need to design, optimize, or shift the accommodation venue because of these needs.
Don’t Go It Alone!
Hybrid event platforms are here to stay. Statista reports that 52% of people surveyed plan to attend events both in-person and virtually after the pandemic. Hybrid and virtual events are now a standard part of business, so if you haven’t hosted one yet, you likely will soon.
Even if you’ve previously hosted in-person events, planning a hybrid event is full of new challenges. An experience hybrid event partner can help to ensure that your event goes smoothly and portrays your business in the best light.
Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Hybrid Event. Includes an overview of the different types of hybrid events to choose from, best practices and a handy check list.