The Art of the site visit
If you ask any experienced event planner what items top their event to-do list, we can guarantee that finding a suitable venue will be right near the top. The venue is the one item on your list that can tie all your event details together. This can have a huge impact on how your guests gather and what they experience. We like to think that selecting a venue is both a science and an art. The science being the usage of information at hand to decipher the suitability of the venue, while the art is the event planner’s instinct and connection with a space. This may seem like a romantic notion, but when you’ve been in the industry a long time your instincts about certain things – like venues – automatically come alive. Once you’ve identified potential venues for your event, the next step is to narrow your options by doing a site visit.
What To Look For In A Venue
There are a lot of things to consider when looking for that perfect venue. We’ve previously talked about potential ideas for jazzing up your event to give your guests the type of experience that’ll stay with them forever, and an Unconventional Event Venue is just one of these key concepts. But while selecting an unusual (and impressive) venue can be a great idea, you’ll need to keep some details in mind before you make any spontaneous decisions – which is why an informed site visit isn’t just a great idea, it’s imperative to pulling off a truly fantastic event.
With that in mind, here’s what ensure you consider these points when going on your site visit:
- First, think about the must-haves – draw up a checklist which underpins the features that you absolutely need. Think about parking, networking spaces, facilities etc so that you have the basics front of mind, before you you’re lured in by the nice-to-haves.
- Always keep budget at the front of your mind. Don’t even bother to visit sites that are way over your budget – they’ll only create a desire for a venue you can’t have. At the same time, as much as you need to stay within budget, it’s important to resist the temptation to go with a venue just because it’s cheap, if it doesn’t fit your event vision. But, if you can create or surpass the same level of experience for your guests in a more cost-effective venue then obviously that’s a win-win!
- Remember that the venue capacity needs to accommodate the number of guests on your list. Think of the type of seating you will need (banquet; cocktail; conference), as well as the implications this seating plan will have on safety and security regulations. If your guest list is not too tight and you are willing to accommodate guests who arrive without an RSVP, then select an appropriate venue and plan how you would fit them in.
- Events and Tech are always going to go hand in hand. Talk to the venue management team about Wi-Fi, audio-visuals, and any other tech related requirements you may want for your event, and do not forget that tech runs on electricity (and usually runs with a specific type of electricity e.g. 3 Phase), so while it is great to have it, you’ll need to have a plan B in place should you experience an electricity cut or load shedding.
- When it rains, it pours – so, if you’re having an outdoor event, make sure that you have an alternative weather plan with solutions to fall back on.
- If your event is centred around networking, choose a venue that easily encourages interaction. If it’s a knowledge sharing event which uses a lot of presentations, ensure you have a set up that best emphasises and enables the speaker and his/her content.
- Including your safety and security coordinators and/or supplier teams could be beneficial when considering your venue choices. These teams are specialists in their field and will know what to look for to deliver on your brief. Including these suppliers is a good way of spotting and planning for logistical and/or technical issues ahead of time.
Virtual Site Visits
Technology has made it possible for event planners to cut down on costs and save time when viewing potential venues. If you’re really pressed for time and for some reason cannot make it to your site visits, there is the option to do a virtual site visit. This isn’t something we encourage but it is an option. Keep in mind that site managers will want to show the best side of their venues, so the less flattering parts will not be put online for the world to see. The most we recommend with virtual site visits is getting a visual idea of the venue and seeing its potential to fit your theme, and from there shortlisting to view physically.
Benefits of Going Onsite
We strongly believe in site visits because they are a great opportunity to build long term relationships with venue management while also visualising potential space usage and foreseeing or planning for potential issues. We’ve gone from using popular venues, to unconventional, and have even gone as far as creating our own venues from scratch. Chat to us about what to look for in site visits. We’re here to help.