Your calendar is full and finding time to fly to a handful of locations can be difficult to balance with all the other things on the to-do list so in-person visits need to be as efficient as possible. The experts at venue sourcing and event management company Conference Care have some suggestions (and a detail checklist) for making the most of these essential tours.
1. Evaluate Access
The true test starts before you arrive at the door of the venue. Try to make your site visit at the same time of day that a delegate would be travelling to the site. Consider the efficiency of public transit, parking availability, airlift. This also provides useful information to share with your future delegates.
2. Consider True Capacity
Conference Care Head of Operations Louise Harwood, recommends paying close attention to a venue’s true capacity. By this she doesn’t just mean asking the number of people the venue will hold. Instead, she she suggests visualizing “how the space suits the event and whether there will be any logistical challenges to overcome. Think about whether you will be able to comfortably manage the number of delegates in the venue.”
3. Eat the Cake
People will always remember the food, especially if it was bad. Harwood recommends sampling the offerings you are considering serving. Pay attention not only to how it tastes, but also the presentation and the level of service provided. Food should never be an afterthought.
4. Test the Light and Sound
The ability to see and hear what is being presented is critical to a successful meeting. Conference Care New Business Manager Gary Hutton, suggests asking to talk to the audio/visual team during a site visit. “A room can look very different with a full back projection set and stage than it does when it is set up for a dinner or an empty space. Seeing them onsite will really help you get a grasp of how it will work.”
5. Negotiate Terms
This is also a good time to discuss the contractual details with staff. It can be difficult to predict exactly how many delegates will actually attend your event. To manage your budget effectively, discuss items such as cancellations face-to-face when you visit the venue. This is often when you will secure the most favorable terms.
6. Just Do It
A site visit can often be an undervalued part of the site selection process. Personal recommendations, online research and past experience are all well and good, but nothing beats standing in the space you intend to use and experiencing it first-hand. While it may appear from the pictures that a conference room is bright and airy, when you get there it may be much smaller than it appears. Likewise a venue situated out in the countryside may sound like an attractive, secluded option-however, in reality this may just mean it is a tricky place for your delegates to get to. If you ask the right questions, site visits have the power to make the next meeting the best one.
Nicola Webb, the Account Development Manager from Conference Care says that the simple things can be pivotal to whether your event runs smoothly. Consider the following:
- Are there are sufficient and accessible restrooms?
- Is there a secure coatroom?
- What are the proposed staffing levels?
- What is the standard of cleanliness?
- How clear is signage?
- How noisy is the space?