The importance of a site visit cannot be underestimated. Experiencing a venue, the atmosphere, surroundings, travel time, service and finish can only go so far when presented with images.

Take a look at the second instalment of our ‘Top 10’ series as we establish the key elements to look for when conducting a site visit.

1. Ensure the right people attend

Ensure the right people are conducting the site visit. The organiser is a must, however consider taking the final decision maker if available. Bring your supplier(s) along with you if required and suitable. Be sure to tell the venue who they can expect to be present.

2. Prepare prior to arrival

Bring with you all the details of the venue(s) you have received so far. This may include rates, floor plans, capacities and details on the proposed spaces. Be sure to arrive with a vision in your mind of how the event will flow and use this as a starting point. If you’re looking to get measurements bring a tape measure with you in case the venue doesn’t have one to hand.

Secondly, arrive with an agenda detailing out the various items and specifics you wish to see and experience. Prepare yourself a list of questions in advance. It’s easy to get swept up in the flow of the site visit as you gather more information on the venue, therefore forgetting to ask some of the vital questions you wished to establish.

3. Put yourself in the attendee’s shoes

It’s very easy to get swept up in the logistics and minute detail, so remember when viewing a venue to place yourself in the attendee’s shoes to give yourself the best vision of their forthcoming experience.

4. Analyse the location

You will inevitably take the easiest route to the venue for your based on your origin, but is your route the most likely directions the delegates will take? If you’re holding an event in Kent and your delegates are travelling from Hampshire, would they likely take train or car? If not, endeavour to take the time to walk/train/drive their route to best place yourself in the delegates shoes. Ask the venue about all modes of transport – nearest (major) train stations, parking on site, restrictions on coaches pulling up etc.

5. Take time to view your surroundings

Look at who else is in the venue. Ask yourself, is it considered a business or social venue? Does this fit the vibe that you are looking for? The people within the venue are the ones who create the atmosphere so take time to analyse the wider personnel, rather than just your own.

6. View all areas and spaces

Even if you are not using all public spaces within the venue, take the time to view them. It may be that the agenda changes and you require these suddenly. This also provides the opportunity to experience the atmosphere and analyse the surroundings and venue as a whole.

Moreover, ask to view all the remaining meeting spaces. As above, if your requirements or numbers change you’ll be glad you saw alternate space and saves you that second site visit. This can also provide an opportunity to change your mind on your existing room proposed, should the space be free.

7. Analyse rooms / spaces

  • Max capacities – ask about capacity in various set ups, not just your desired layout. Venues have a tendency to quote max capacities, so ask what is a comfortable capacity without packing out the room(s).
  • Presentation area – how large is it / is there room for your AV when thinking about capacity?
  • Pillars – what is the line of sight like for all delegates? Stand or sit in various places around the room to test the visuals. If you feel comfortable, then chances are they will.
  • Natural Daylight – do they have any curtains or blinds to block out the daylight if required? How will the direction of the sunlight affect your delegates and your presentation on screen?
  • Ceiling heights – is the ceiling height large enough for your set? If the ceiling is lower in places detail down all ceiling heights and their locations.
  • Power sockets – where are they located? Is there enough for your AV / presenters / delegates? Detail this on your floor plan if it isn’t already, it’s detail easily forgotten.
  • Dividing walls – ask how soundproof they are. A very small percentage of dividing walls are fully soundproof. Consider your content when deciding what goes where.
  • Entrances – if you have valuables which will be kept in the room overnight, can the room be fully locked? Look at all access points, even through storage cupboards. Who will have keys or access to the room overnight? Does the venue have CCTV or security guards to oversee the space?

8. Ask to see the furniture

If possible, get sight of the chairs and tables that will be used with your event. Too often than not do we see aged conference chairs which immediately ruin a space. Do they cloth their trestle tables and if not, are they aesthetically pleasing? Ask if there is other furniture you can use, not just for conference elements but soft furnishings as well – it’s a lovely touch to a tea/coffee or lunch space.

9. Study the signage

Start from the very beginning and look for directional signage to the venue itself. Analyse how easy it is to see or find. Once arriving at the venue, place your delegate hat on and walk towards the meeting space. Is it obvious from first arrival? Look at all elements of signage – bedrooms, lifts, toilets, reception etc. Most importantly, query with the venue what signage you are allowed to put up yourself. Do they allow banners, and if so where and when can they be put up? Do the venue have bus stop signs you can use? If so, how many and what size are they? Try to get a visual of these so you know what to expect.

10. Take pictures

You will be taking in a lot of information and you’d be forgiven for not remembering every little detail. Pictures will jog the memory and provide you a refence when planning an event. Take pictures of every space, you never know when you will need them!

Other miscellaneous questions to remember:

  • When was their last renovation?
  • Are there any future renovations planned that may affect your event?
  • What other events are taking place at the same time as yours?
  • How will these other events affect yours – see if you can get their timings for lunch and breaks.
  • Do the venue have any suggestions themselves that they have seen on other events? This can relate to anything from signage to layout.
  • When will you have access to the spaces?
  • When do you need to be out the space by?
  • What are the local amenities i.e. pharmacy, local convenience shop etc.

Hippo organise your site visits free of charge with our free Global Venue Finding service and accompany you at your request.