A meeting planner’s to-do list is as long as it is arduous, however, there are a few tasks that can be delegated right from the get-go. Let’s imagine that the big undertaking of selecting the destination city you’re going to host your upcoming event has been taken care of. The next important decision you’re faced with is selecting a venue. Given the many factors you’ll need to consider, its key to create a well-thought out plan to determine if a venue is in alignment with the overall concept and specifications required for your event.

When deciding on where to host your event, nothing can take the place of being physically present to view the property and take in all of its nuances with a discriminating eye for detail. Online web research is helpful, but unfortunately it can only get you so far. When circumstances prevent you from being able to visit a venue in person, whether it be due to budget constraints and/or a busy work schedule, there’s a viable option out there for you. And why not take advantage of a task that can be delegated by hiring a local meeting professional to complete a venue site inspection on your behalf? For the sake of this blog, let’s call this person a Local Venue Site Inspector.

What is a Local Venue Site Inspector you ask? Well, the term refers to a meeting professional who lives in close proximity to the venues you’re interested in hosting your event. This person will visit the venues and serve as your local representation on the ground, performing as an extension of you. When looking to hire a local venue site inspector, it’s important to hire someone who is organized and possesses strong attention to detail. You’ll want to hire someone who’s able to be clear in communicating with the venue sales manager what the event’s requirements are and what your overall vision is. It’s recommended that you arrange to visit at least three venues in the area to allow for comparable comparison.

In advance of a venue site inspection, what information is important to consider? It’s highly recommended that you compose a detailed venue site inspection checklist. Creating one shouldn’t be difficult as meeting planners live by and LOVE lists! Prepare your itemized checklist keeping in mind all the important information you want relayed back to you in a clear and concise manner.

Here’s an idea of what can be accomplished when performing a venue site inspection:

  • Tour the facility with the venue’s sales manager
  • Take photos of the venue’s outdoor space; parking facility, entrances, neighborhood; note overall condition
  • Capture photos of the venue’s indoor space; lobby, registration area and meeting space; note condition
  • Determine if the venue’s meeting space is adequate and appropriate
  • Check on the meeting space’s occupancy capacity
  • Confirm the total square footage of meeting space; obtain meeting space floor plans
  • Consider the space layout for registration, meeting room and break out rooms
  • Check on the use of in-house or preferred suppliers for AV services
  • Ask about the availability and use of internet access
  • Confirm if the venue offers in-house equipment; registration tables, registration chairs, skirting, podium
  • Determine the ease of access to registration area from venue entrance
  • Assess the ease of access to elevators from the venue entrance
  • Inquire about gaining entry into the meeting space for pre-meeting set-up and break-down
  • Gather information about parking accommodations (designated parking lot, self-pay, valet…)
  • Check on total number of guest rooms in venue
  • Calculate the travel time and distance between the venue and closest airport
  • Gather information about the availability of a shuttle service from the airport to venue
  • Inquire as to whether there will be construction or venue renovation plans scheduled during the event date(s)

The culmination of these observations will assist you in determining if a particular venue matches your event’s needs and meets your goals. If you’re willing to put in the lead time and prepare a well-thought out plan of action for your venue site inspection, you’ll find it of great value.

I’m curious…. what are your experiences with performing venue site inspections? I’d love to hear any war stories you’d like to share and learn about strategies you’ve found helpful.

 

Cara O’Neill is a Project Manager at GCG Event Partners where she has happily set up shop for the last 10 years. She considers the key role she plays as the intermediary between her clients and network members as her favorite component of what she does on a daily basis. Cara’s professional background may be in the meeting planning industry; however, she has a strong penchant for writing too! You can connect with Cara on LinkedIn here.

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