Convention Centers Add Broadcasting Studios to Accommodate Hybrid Events
Convention centers across the country are making way for hybrid meetings and events. Renowned facilities looking ahead to 2021 and beyond have repurposed spaces to become virtual studios, complete with state-of-the-art AV equipment for digital and in-person presentations.
“While hybrid meetings are not new in our industry, the demand for them has increased dramatically due to this pandemic, forcing meeting and event planners to make adjustments to their events to continue to address the needs of their members and attendees who will not be ready to travel anytime soon,” said Tim Muldoon, general manager at the David E. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, which recently added its own virtual studio —one of the notable examples of this new adaptation to the coronavirus and its after-effects.
Read on for how facilities and CVBs are working together to pivot yet again, this time into the digital realm.
StreamStage at America’s Center
StreamStage is one important element of a larger $175 million upgrade of St. Louis’ convention hub. Incorporated into the Ferrara Theatre, StreamStage is outfitted with increased bandwidth for livestreaming, an HD camera and studio backdrop complete with lighting and projecting equipment.
A production manager is available to assist staff and there is theater-style seating for in-person attendees, while PSAV and Smart City, America’s Center partners, are providing the equipment, technology and project management.
“We are combining the best of in-person events with the convenience and high production values of virtual experiences,” said Kathleen (Kitty) Ratcliffe, president of Explore St. Louis.
Javits Broadcast Studio
New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center debuted its new hybrid offering for Grant’s Fall 2020 Conference in October. The financial meeting had 50 people inside Javits, coupled with remote attendance.
The 30,000-sq.-ft. venue is considered the largest hybrid studio available to event planners. It has space to seat 300 socially-distanced delegates. The Nest Summit, an official program of Climate Week NYC, recently used the studio for its virtual presentation.
Among the highlights of the technology is a giant video wall. The convention center provides an on-site production team, a control room, multiple video cameras and WiFi. Events are granted at least 10 hours of studio time.
“We wanted to do a live event, in the first place to make some money, in the second place to take a stand against the fear and defeatism that have attended the pandemic and lockdown,” explained Jim Grant, founder and editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. The group was so pleased with its experience that it’s returning to Javits in April 2021 for another event.'
OCCC Executive Studio
Another convention and trade show staple venue, Orange County Convention Center, is readying its new OCCC Executive Studio for operation beginning early next year.
Powered by LMG, the center’s longtime AV provider, OCCC Executive Studio is equipped to handle a variety of educational and breakout sessions out of the Lecture Hall in the West Building. Also available as virtual studios are the Linda. W. Chapin Theatre and the Destination Lounge. Each on-site venue has seating for in-person attendees to go along with the tech offerings.
Peter Scott, CEO of the American Academy of Optometry, is impressed with the new option. Orange County Convention Center has “the system [and] infrastructure to be able to deliver a virtual meeting, a hybrid meeting or an in-person meeting seamlessly,” he said.
The Confluence, an Event Studio
Pittsburgh’s world-class David L. Lawrence Convention Center launched The Confluence, named after three rivers flowing into the city. According to facility officials, one of the missions of the studio is to keep local groups meeting close to home. So far, so good on that front as DLCC General Manager Tim Muldoon says a Pittsburgh-based group already enjoyed a successful event using the studio.
The studio has a permanent home in the building, but the convention center is leaving planners the option of moving to different locations within the center. The flexibility allows for the needs of different-sized groups.
“We can relocate the technology and equipment quite easily,” said Kelli Donahoe, DLLCC director of sales and marketing.