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Event Planning And The Venue Site Visit: Are You Ready To Pack Your Bags?

Event planning: the site visit Before taking time out of the office to do a site visit of potential venues, let’s do a quick recap of the information you should have gathered to narrow down your search.

  • Does the meeting space (indoor/outdoor) meet my needs?
  • Is the venue within my budget (e.g. room rental, food & beverage minimum, etc.)?
  • Is the venue easy to get to?
  • Is there ample transportation to accommodate my attendees?
  • What is the cost for attendees (e.g. room rate, parking, gratuities)?

Once a venue meets all of your criteria on paper, it’s time to do a site visit.

Advance Preparation for your site visit(s)

  • Have an agenda for your visit: list out the items that you want to do and see at the venue in advance; coordinate an agenda with your sales person to be sure you accomplish everything you need to as efficiently as possible.
  • Bring preparation materials: lay out your space requirements and the program flow you envision, based on the information you have–whether it be marking up a floor plan (bring blank floor plans with you), or have a copy of your program to write down the locations for each event. Be sure to include the capacities of each room. I do find that the sales kits of venues are sometimes slightly more aggressive in terms of capacity than reality.

You are on location and ready to go. Here’s where to pay close attention.

When you do your site visit, be sure to see the entire property, NOT just the space that you feel may meet your event needs. Don’t overlook these key details:

  • Ceiling height
  • Location of power drops
  • Columns within the rooms (line of sight will impact your seating and stage set)
  • Windows (how much light – impacts preparation for audio visual)
  • How does the furniture look? New or tired?
  • Air walls – new, dark? Do they actually filter sound?
  • Risers – how many in house? How old are they? If they are uneven or look ragged you need to take this into account as it can impact your production budget moving forward.
  • Doors to meeting space – do they lock for security purposes, do they make a lot of noise… (Pro tip: ALWAYS PACK WD40 in your supply box when heading to an event!)
  • Furniture in the rooms: is it movable?
  • What are the signage placement limitations?
  • What is the handicap accessibility?

Be sure to view and understand the different types of sleeping rooms–and how far from the main meeting area they may be. This may be helpful when booking your room block and securing those rooms most convenient to your event. And definitely look look at the restroom facilities … they can tell you a lot about a venue and their attention to detail.

Other key points to ask and take into account:

  • When was the last renovation done?
  • BIG BIG BIG – Ask if there are any planned renovations in the future?
  • Ask what other groups are in-house before, during and immediately after your event.
  • Are there other hotels nearby in case overflow is required (an excellent problem to have!)
  • Try to make note of what stores/shops are in the area, such as a FedEx/Kinkos; pharmacies, etc. as these may very well be needed.

Just a few more additional helpful hints while onsite–trust me I’ve learned the hard way…

  • Take good notes
  • Do not forget your camera
  • Keep notes of what you’re photographing so you can remember it later

Yes, there is a lot to take into account during your site visit. Do you have any additional points to consider for all of us event planners out there?