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Make Durham Your Home Base for Hybrid and Outdoor Meetings

Estimated Read Time:
4 minutes

Let's get down to business, but in a socially distanced and safe way.

Posted By Sarah Hall on Oct 06, 2020

Hybrid and Outdoor meetings are trending; here’s why Durham should be home base

A full convention with a bustling trade show may be a no-go in the days of COVID-19, but we still need to network and collaborate.

And that’s why outdoor events and hybrid meetings that mix in-person with virtual sessions are trending right now. You can still get down to business, but in a socially distanced or virtual way.

But to host a successful hybrid and outdoor event during COVID, you’ll need to bring some new skills and strategies to the table.

Get creative virtually

Zoom fatigue … yep, that’s real. But not every virtual meeting means glazed eyes and zapped energy. You just need to get creative.

Steven Rogelberg, a professor at UNC-Charlotte and an expert on meetings, offers these pro tips for boosting engagement. Call on people instead of simply opening the floor to comments. In real-time, let attendees vote in polls related to the topic of the day. And set up a chat room or instant messaging capabilities so participants can ask questions during the discussion.

Troubleshoot the tech

For hybrid meetings, your virtual sessions could include everything from live streams to thousands or breakout sessions for just a dozen. Whatever the plan, you may have some new tech challenges on your hands.

Venues must be ready to display live streams reliably and provide enough wifi, so attendees don’t drop off because of annoying glitches. Another must: Troubleshooting technology issues on the fly — or having experts on hand who can get it done, recommends BizBash.

Consider COVID

The pandemic continues, and that means you’ll need to stay on top of the latest COVID-19-related regulations. State and local laws limit the number of participants at indoor and outdoor events, require social distancing, and make face coverings mandatory. As long as the health crisis sticks around, proximity to top-notch health care is vital so you have access to testing and care if people do get sick.

For all these reasons, organizers need to be especially strategic about where they’re hosting outdoor events and hybrid meetings. Destinations must be ready to address any tech challenges and offer world-class health care.

Durham’s got you covered.

Research Triangle Park, the largest high technology research and science park in North America, is just four miles from downtown Durham. Within our own borders are some of the most innovative technology companies in the world.

And we live up to our City of Medicine nickname. Duke University Hospital, the top-ranked medical center, and other medical and health care companies are all right here.

If you’re considering a hybrid meeting or outdoor event for your next gathering, here are five Durham destinations with indoor and outdoor amenities to claim as your home base.

Research Triangle Foundation’s Frontier 800 and Archie K. Davis Conference Center

In the heart of RTP, Research Triangle Foundation’s complex’s collaborative indoor space has the bandwidth you need for hybrid meetings with high-tech audio-visual and virtual requirements. A large parking lot can accommodate socially distanced outdoor events. New for 2020 is Boxyard RTP, a growing collection of outdoor shops and eateries. And, bonus: The complex is just five miles from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, offering easy access for out-of-town travelers and a shuttle that will take them to points within a five-mile radius.

Golden Belt

Once filled with massive steam-powered textile machines, the historic Golden Belt, a former factory, is now a bustling home to businesses, housing, artists’ workshops, and event spaces. Gather people inside the complex’s multiple indoor meeting areas, including the sprawling Cotton Room and Great Hall. Take them outside for sessions at the Mill Stage at Golden Belt and Plaza, which includes a courtyard and stage, and Hi-Wire Brewing, which offers a large outdoor covered patio and beer garden. Plan team building and breakout sessions on the outdoor trails and natural areas nearby.

American Tobacco Campus

Along with downtown Durham, the American Tobacco Campus, a one-time tobacco factory, was once part of one of the busiest industrial centers in the country. Today, it’s a hub for businesses, breweries, restaurants, shopping and entertainment, including the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and Durham Performing Arts Center. Bay 7 offers 10,000-square-feet of event space. For a change of scenery, it’s an easy walk from American Tobacco to 43 other venues across downtown Durham for everything from intimate get-togethers to larger gatherings.

Durham Convention & Arts Complex

Just one mile from both Duke University and North Carolina Central University, the Durham Convention & Arts Complex features five venues — the Durham Convention Center, Carolina Theater, Durham Arts Council and Durham Armory and the Durham Marriott. In the heart of Durham’s compact and walkable downtown, your attendees will be steps away from some of Durham’s most innovative restaurants. Durham Central Park, a popular community gathering spot, and the Durham Farmers Market, which is filled with local produce and artisanal products on Saturdays, are both just down the street. And it’s a few blocks from even more space at 21-C, The Durham Hotel and The Unscripted where you can spread out for welcome receptions, breakout sessions and hybrid and virtual events.

Connected to the Durham Marriott, the Durham Convention Center offers plenty of room for attendees to socially distance. Across 35,000 square feet, you’ll find a parking deck, plaza, theaters, galleries and pre-function areas that can be incorporated to host larger events. An outdoor plaza provides an open-air place to get your people together. And the center boasts its own event experts — dedicated planners, an executive culinary team, exhibitor services and an on-site audio-visual company.

Ready to turn your conference or meeting into a hybrid or outdoor event? Contact Neil Curiel at neil@discoverdurham.com to learn more about what Durham has to offer.

About the Author

Sarah Hall
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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall is a longtime North Carolina-based journalist and writer.