It is very important to conduct a site inspection for any venue that you may potentially book for your next event before signing on the dotted line. Often times when booking a venue we do so out of convenience or price but we forget to look for important elements that could make or break the functionality of the event and further complicate the logistics.
When conducting a site visit it is important to inspect:
1. Parking and Accessibility | It is very crucial that you check out the parking available for your venue. Important questions to ask are: Is it onsite? If so, is the lot used exclusively for the venue or is it shared? Is it underground, covered or uncovered, is there a fee? If it is offsite, you will need to know how far of a walk it is from the venue and who the lot is owned by. Is there a charge and how much? Is the building and the route to the parking area wheelchair accessible?
Always ask to see the parking area and insist on being showed the process of getting from the parking to your specific event space. You want to make sure that finding the parking and locating the event space is easy for your guests and if it's a hassle for you, chances are it will be for your guests as well.
2. Meeting Rooms and Layout | If you are going to be using a board room for your meeting or planning for breakout sessions you will definitely want to inspect all these rooms as well as the possible layouts. How many rooms are available for your event specifically? It is important that the meeting rooms at the venue can accommodate your guests and any additional needs you may have, such as built-in screens, sound system and number of electrical outlets.
I always suggest inspecting all meeting rooms because even though you may not need all of them at the time, your event needs may change throughout the process and you will at least know what your options are for changing things around if need be.
3. Loading Dock Areas | This area is definitely overlooked and often times it is assumed that the location of the load-in area in relation to the event space will function well. We always suggest getting a full tour of this area so that there are no surprises on the day of your event about where to go from the dock. You will want to look out for proximity to your event space as well as ease of getting your materials there.
Do you need to go through a meeting area with your materials or is it a direct route? Is there going to be someone to escort the crew to where they need to be? What is their name? Will they help load and unload? If you know who is there to help and the amount of time it will take to get your materials from the docking area to your event space you can be better prepared with the appropriate staff and timeline for move in and move out.
5. Storage Space | This area is important to check out because it will be your personal office/storage area for the entire day and you will most likely have to go in and out of this room several times throughout the event. The location and size of this room will be crucial in deciding if a venue can work for your event.
You will want to make sure that this room is secure and located in a low traffic area that is easily accessible. Proximity of the storage area to the meeting space will be important and depending on the size it could also be used as a speaker ready room and place where your event team and volunteers can regroup.
6. Restrooms and Elevators | The amount of restrooms and elevators available for your event are often overlooked. All venues provide restrooms but it's important to know how many are available. Are they all for your attendees to use or will you be sharing with other events going on in the venue or hotel guests? What is the condition of the restrooms? Take a look, and if they aren’t great and you don’t feel comfortable, your attendees won’t either.
The number of elevators in a venue usually becomes a bigger issue if you are holding your event at a hotel. Will guests of the hotel be using the same elevators? How many are there? What is the typical wait time in a fully booked hotel? These are all questions you will want to know because if your attendees have to wait, chances are they won’t be pleased and you will hear about it.
There are many things that you need to consider when booking a venue for your next event and it is crucial that you conduct a site inspection to fully understand how the venue will function for your event.
I have only covered some of the basic inspection points that sometimes get overlooked or forgotten. A venue might be specifically known for hosting meetings but that does not necessarily mean it will work for your event. I suggest always doing an in-person inspection to be sure that the event will function the way you want it to. Don’t be shy, see the space a couple of times before making a decision if need be. If the logistics are not clear to you, it will be even harder for your attendees to navigate the space.
I recommend having your event planner onsite with you to go over the event venue, what the venue has to offer, and what your specific event might look like if held at that venue. Your event planner knows your goals and objectives best and will be able to tell if a venue will work for you or not after inspecting a few key elements saving you much needed time and energy.
Have you ever been to a venue where an element didn't work so well, such as the parking or elevator access? Did you mention it to the event organizer? How did they handle the situation?