Site visit 101

A critical step in the planning process is a site visit. If you are new to a venue, we highly recommend getting onsite to do a good audit of the possible guest experience. We recommend returning to a venue if you haven’t been there since your last in-person event in 2019! So much has changed at all of the venues over the past couple of years.

The first site visit is typically during the venue selection phase of the planning process.

During this initial visit, we recommend exploring the following:

  • What are the options for parking?
  • Does the venue match the style and vibe of your event?
  • Will the venue capacity limit attendance or exceed your event needs? Keep in mind that adding stages, silent auction space, etc. will impact your room capacity.
  • Which amenities and services are included in the costs for the space? Each venue will differ on what they include from tables and chairs to easels and more.
  • Consider location – is this a good proximity for your guests? Does the area feel safe and welcoming? Do you have out of town guests – if so, where is the closest hotel?

Things to Confirm Before You Book (and put in contract) 

  • Ask about what other events or activations are happening at the property.
  • Loading dock 
    • Will all elements fit? 
    • Incurred expenses?
  • Parking 
    • Do guests get included parking? Discounted? 
    • Parking for loading in/out? Trucks? 
  • AV 
    • Internal fees, etc
    • Exclusivities 
    • Consider having your preferred AV company review contract too 
  • Will you incur Union Labor costs
  • How in-kind donations (alcohol, dessert) are dealt with 
  • What is the deadline for head counts or room blocks? What is your attrition costs if applicable?

Final site visit and venue meeting

  • Discuss floorplan for tables, stage, and other event elements you have. 
  • Where is their power and what is the process for requesting power?
  • What is the plan for WIFI and hardwired internet?
  • Coat check placement
  • Volunteer room – discuss meals in the volunteer room
  • Signage placement – ask the venue what they provide
  • Confirm time to get in to start set up and what time do you to do tear down. Your AV team would likely like to set the day before, so ask if this is an option
  • Where does catering serve from? Do they need to set up a service space for your event?
  • What is the plan for trash/recycling?

If you are planning an event over multiple days or in a location that is a destination for guests, we also recommend sourcing the following during your site visit.

  • What are the local restaurants and bars? Consider asking if they will give a promotion for your event attendees.
  • What is the closest convenience stores?
  • What are the transportation options?
  • What other entertainment options are available? Check into movie theaters, bowling, comedy theaters, and more! 

Practical Application

At the end of July our team will be heading to Duluth, MN for a fantastic 2-day event for 900 people. To prepare for the event, two people from our team traveled to Duluth for a site inspection. In a jam packed 8 hour day, we visited 10 hotels and 3 event venue spaces. During this time, we got better understanding of the spaces and options, while also building essential relationships with the local team that will help execute the event! In between our venue visits, we mapped walking routes, noted local attractions, and explored the safety of the city. It was a BUSY day but so beneficial to the success of the event. 

When planning a site visit – make sure you give yourself enough time to thoroughly explore the space. We also recommend letting the venue know your questions ahead of time so that they can ensure to have the right staff available to answer your questions. It’s exciting to see events come back together in-person and to feel the energy at a live event. The site visit is sure to inspire your and your planning team!

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