Working alongside and within venues is something that many event organisers have to deal with. From stadiums hosting concerts, to inner city hotels hosting training seminars and press launches.
One thing they all have in common is that they are used to hosting a lot of events, from the smallest to the largest, but when does the organiser know to call in help for the technical elements?
Set your expectations
Venues do what they normally do very well, whether that’s bedrooms, sports events, food or whatever. It doesn’t mean they can do something on the scale the event needs. When considering IT we generally liken it to the screen in most conference rooms. If you need an internal presentation or meeting for 20 staff then the screen in the conference room is probably enough, but if the event called for something special, you would bring in an AV Company. It’s the same with IT. If it’s just Wi-Fi for 20 then it’s probably fine, but if its critical, or for lots of people, then it needs to be checked.
Validate what’s really on site
This will sound like a dig at venues. It isn’t. But in many cases people don’t understand what technology the venue has or its limitations. They are normally reporting something from someone else in the organisation (perhaps an in-house IT team) who won’t be there on the morning of live trying to sort it out. The only way to understand what’s on site is to get on site and look around. A good IT partner can help by setting up a quick phone call with the venue, if technical questions are being answered quickly and with detail, it’s probably correct, if there is a lot of referring to others who are not on the call…red flags should start waving.
Identify your risks
Once you understand what you expect and what is there, then it’s about identifying your risks and what mitigation you want in place. This generally comes down to how important something is. For example, if a web based stream is the core of an event (perhaps an international manager briefing teams across the UK) then there needs to be a second internet connection in place.
When we look at the most ‘high stress’ events it generally tends to be those at venues. Normally because someone asked what was in place, it was confirmed as ok, but then on the day things become difficult and reality bites. Avoid that pain at all costs!