The venue you select for a an event is one of the most important decisions you will make – the venue sets the tone for the event, sets expectations for your guests before they arrive, and can either enhance or hurt your event. So it’s important to visit it ahead of time, preferably before you sign a contract.
Many professional event planners have site visit checklists, listing all of the items they look for. I encourage you to make your own list based on your events’ needs. But here are five things that could easily be overlooked:
Bathrooms: Most (if not all) of your guests will end up going to the bathroom during your event. Why would you visit a venue and skip a room? Taking a quick trip to the venue’s restrooms will tell you a lot about the maintenance. If the restrooms aren’t well-kept, you might want to hold your event elsewhere.
Outlets: Try to scope out the number of outlets in the space. Newer venues probably have plenty of outlets, but older ones probably don’t. Check the location of the outlets as well – if you have a vision of how you’d like to set the room but the power is on the other side, you will have to run cords which could be an unsightly trip hazard.
Cell Service: This is particularly important for longer events (such as conferences) where you and your guests won’t be able to be out of contact for the duration. Make periodic note of how the service is in different parts of the venue, and note the service provider you have.
Furniture: Many times the venue might store the furniture they use in the venue, but sometimes it’s out of sight. You don’t have to inspect every piece of furniture (especially tables that might be covered in a linen), but chairs, podiums, bars and anything else that would be visible to guests should be looked at. Nothing makes a venue look shabby like a torn or stained chair. I also like to ask to see the house linens so I know up front if I like the options or if I’ll want to rent my own.
Walk In Your Guests’ Shoes: Act like one of your guests. Use the entrances they will use. Walk through the space and note any areas that might need signage. Not the impression that the guests will get when they arrive. Also note the service. When you are the event planner on a scheduled site visit, depending on the venue, the venue staff might go out of their way to make your visit amazing. This is, after all, the wooing phase; they are selling. While it’s important to know how they will treat a potential client, it’s even more important to see how they treat the average guest. So go incognito at first, if you can.
There are a hundred more things that you may need to look for on your site visit, depending on the needs and complexity of your event. But these few items are important for every site visit.
What are your must-check items on a site visit?