When you’re looking for an event venue, it’s easy to listen to your heart over your head. There are so many fantastic venues out there to choose from, and for many, the venue is where weeks or months of planning and preparation finally come to life, so there’s a lot riding on the decision.
It is therefore important to think beyond the shiny brochures and websites, and also to check places out that might not be marketing themselves specifically as event venues.
This is where site visits come in. Once you’ve shortlisted some venues by gathering the basic information, such as location, transport links, size and purpose, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. Making site visits to the venues on your shortlist will often be the deciding factor between option A and option B.
The site visit checklist
We make many site visits on behalf of our clients and have a checklist that we refer to, to make sure nothing is missed. Here are a few of the things on the list:
● Check any restrictions in the room that could interfere with your plans – for example, is there a low ceiling where you wanted to install a screen, or does the room have lots of windows and doors limiting the amount of available wall space?
● Ensure the room will accommodate both the desired capacity, room layout and the AV production required. We often find that the maximum capacity stated does not include any staging, screens etc.
● Check what equipment, such as AV, is there already and what you will need to provide. Moreover, is the equipment provided going to meet your requirements?
● What is the access like for any additional kit you will need to bring in? What about stairwells or lift sizes? If something’s too heavy for the stairs, but won’t fit in the lift, you have a problem!
● Ask about any sound restrictions the venue might have that could impact your event
● Consider the lighting in the room; would you need to consider blacking out the space, therefore putting more cost and logistics into the equation, or would somewhere with more natural daylight be better for the type of event you’re planning?
● Check out parking and loading options – is there space to leave a vehicle while you load during build-up and break-down, or are you likely to get a parking ticket on the roadside?!
● Provision of power sources – work out what you will need and whether it’s logistically possible with a few extension leads
● WiFi – essential, of course!
● Check out the toilets – where are they located and how many are there?
● How does their catering work? Can you supply your own if you want to?
So you see, while some things on the list are more obvious than others, it always pays to make the most of any site visit. You can’t ask too many questions!
The last point on our checklist was about catering and one of our favourite things to do while on a site visit is menu tasting! Menu tastings are important to decide what sort of food will best suit your event format, the theme and your delegates’ requirements.
We recently had a breakfast tasting at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry. It’s a fantastic venue full of lecture theatres, exhibition spaces and meeting rooms, so it’s great for all-day conferences and those early morning networking events.
We also had a menu tasting and site visit for an upcoming event at Millbrook Proving Ground, which offers a great blend of event facilities, brilliant hospitality options and a test track.
We help our clients find the perfect venues for their events, which tick all the boxes (link to venue finding blog). As such, we’re always on the lookout for new openings and exciting locations, and developing good relationships with those in the industry is key to being in the know.
Good relationships are important in every area of event management because we might be working with a venue for weeks, months or even years in the build-up to an event. On the initial site visit, it’s always good to put a face to the name of the person we’ll be working with, and develop the relationship from there.
Supplier relationships are also key. Your chosen venue might have a ‘preferred list’ of suppliers it already works with, or may offer a ‘dry hire’ where you are free to bring in your own suppliers. This is one of the conversations you should have with a venue fairly early on in the process.
If you’d like assistance with any site visits you are planning, we’d be happy to help – just let us know.