The secret to successful site visits…

Noun1. site visit – a visit in an official capacity to examine a site to determine its suitability for some enterprise.

A site visit or inspection, is an often undervalued part of the decision making process when choosing a venue for your event. Once you have nailed down the requirements, and shortlisted potential venues, the next step is an accompanied site inspection – but why are they important, and how can you ensure you are really getting the most out of them?!

Site visits are an opportunity for you to get a look and feel of how your event will run; from venue suitability and their unique selling points, to the space proposed, location and accessibility. Whilst personal recommendations, online research and past experience assist, nothing beats actually standing in the space you want to use and experiencing it first-hand. A conference room that looks bright and airy might in fact be much smaller than it appears, a venue that’s tucked away in the countryside might be too tricky to get to for your delegates – a site visit is the perfect opportunity to ‘try before you buy’.

So, you’ve got your options (carefully and creatively sourced by Conference Care of course). You’ve narrowed down your shortlist and are now going to spend some of your precious time having a look – what does a perfect site visit really entail? We asked some of our experts what they look for when accompanying clients to potential venues:

Cover the three C’s…

Capacity, Cancellation and Catering are all high on the agenda for Head of Operations Louise Harwood. Capacity is all about the venue being the right size for your event; however, we don’t mean just maximum numbers. Does the space suit the event or are there logistical challenges to overcome?! Can the venue comfortably manage the delegate numbers or will your event be competing with or overshadowed by another client’s requirements?

Cancellation

Terms and Conditions or the small print can be a minefield to negotiate for events. Most events are moveable feasts; delegate numbers go up and down and you want to be able to manage your budget effectively. Visiting a venue is a perfect opportunity to discuss these terms face to face, share what works for you to secure more favourable terms.

Catering

Food has a lasting impact on you wherever you go and this element can really make or break an event. If a venue can offer you Lunch or refreshments during a site visit you can not only sample their produce but also experience the service provided, so you know the standard to expect. For large events and Dinners a ‘menu tasting’ visit is highly recommended!

Don’t forget the AV

New Business Manager Scotland, Gary Hutton advises that Audio Visual is an important factor to explore on 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 in situ will really help you get a grasp of how it will work.

Timing is key

It might sound obvious but ensure you allow plenty of time for your visits; you’re unlikely to take everything in if you are rushing to get there. When booking in a visit our Events Consultants check accessibility, motorway links, car parking facilities and the nearest train station/airport before you go. This not only helps you plan on the day, but also provides useful information for your future delegates. They will ensure the visit takes place on a day you can actually view the space you’ve been quoted for – very little point in viewing something you can’t have or is in use by another client. Our Account Managers prepare a checklist, so that you can compare like for like post site visit.

Check out the facilities

Details such as: are there sufficient and accessible toilets? Do they have a secure cloakroom? What are the proposed staffing levels for the event? These are detailed questions you can ask when onsite.  Account Development Manager, Nicola Webb says these elements can be over-looked but can be pivotal to whether your event runs smoothly. The devil is in the detail – look closely at the standard of cleanliness, clarity of signage, standard of soft furnishings and listen carefully for noise.

Future proof your event

Nicola also reminds us that some venue visits will take place well in advance (in some cases several years) of the actual event taking place! If this is the case conducting a site visit can help you look into the future, you can ask details about any refurbishments or building works that are scheduled to ensure they won’t adversely affect your event. This is relevant to where the venue is situated too – is it in a development area? Are there major road works planned?

Ultimately a successful site visit will help you choose the right venue for your event. Conference Care have conducted many a site visit in our time, so if you need help with this or any other aspect of your event do get in touch with the team on  02476 369720 or email us – our experts will support each element of your event from planning to payment!

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