Venue Finding 101: Five reasons to always do a site visit
So heres the scenario. I was working in house managing Events (as part of a much bigger work remit - you know what I mean! ). In came the call from my then boss. OK we have got to implement a roadshow in 5 countries and 10 cities within a matter of weeks. That meant getting going on the venue finding, invites, catering, content, travel itinerary's, branding, promotion, and all for 10 cities inside a 2 month timeframe.
We had a particular type of venue in mind. Not your standard hotel conference rooms. Something a bit different, quirky, modern, forward thinking. We were reflecting a new brand ethos and the venue needed to match. The W in St Petersburg - perfect, The Hospital club in London, but, what to do in Dusseldorf? I'd never been. Solution - get a venue finder to help. The result some great looking venues came back at great prices. Job done. Yes I should go and do a site visit … I just don't have the time. it will be OK - it looks perfect - an art gallery on the rivers edge - just the right ambiance we were aiming for... and it was.
Except I didn't know Dusseldorf geography at all and where it was located in relation to hotels, I didn't know it was down a quiet residential street with no parking and I didn't know it was down an driveway with Graffiti covered walls at the side - and that, was at best tatty. We got to Dusseldorf that afternoon having completed an event that morning in Munich - we were tired and wanted to quickly set up for the following morning (it wasn't a complex set up - it wont take long. We would walk from the hotel. We eventually found the venue over an hour and half later down said driveway. Thank goodness for Google Maps! So some fast thinking meant some new banners out and on the street, staff to meet and greet attendees so the didn't miss the place and a phone call to all attendees the following morning to let them know greater details about the venue location. The venue itself was bang on perfect and on brief and the measure we put in place were able to counteract the potential negatives, because an event is not just about the venue itself but about so much more. So here are 5 lessons I learnt and why you should always, always, always do a site visit when venue finding for any event - no matter how large or small.
1) Make Time: No matter how short of time you, always make the time for a site visit - either yourself, your event agency, your venue finding agency (someone you trust) because in the end it will cost you less stress, money and potentially damage to client relationship to not do this
2) Ambiance: You cant tell the ambiance from a photo. The images might look great and the venue might be great but you have to visit to ensure that the 'feel' of the place is right. Where is your meeting room within the venue itself. Is it down a long corridor with a loo next to it?
3) Venue Staff: The team and staff at the venue are almost as important as the venue itself as without a cooperative, problem solving, ass kicking team your event might suffer - or will be more difficult at the least. Visiting the venue means you can see the team for yourself and really judge if you can work with them.
4) Location, Location, Location: it might be the best venue in the world but if its difficult to find, has poor road or rail links, there are roadworks outside or its got any empty run down building next to it your never going to go unless you visit the venue.
5) Facilities & Technology: The brochure or website might list a long line of technology and other facilities available but you need to see them, check them, are they what you need, are they as stated. check check and double check.
This is what I have learnt from a fair few years event planning and management. To learn more on venue finding and the other services we offer see our services page and download our Venue Finders checklist now