It’s important to try something out before making a final decision, right? Movie directors visit shoot locations before filming. Chefs taste new dishes before adding them to the menu. Even you test drive a new car before purchasing it. The same goes for planning events: conducting a site inspection will help ensure that you choose the right venue for your event.
When our clients trust us to manage their events, we implement a carefully cultivated venue site inspection process that enables us to produce a successful event and ensure guests have a memorable experience. A venue site inspection is an in-person evaluation of potential event venues. Though this process is designed to be flexible depending on the nature of the event, conducting a site inspection is a key component of our event planning process. We recommend conducting site inspections early in the event planning process to assist with venue selection. We’ve compiled our top three reasons why these visits are a valuable part of our venue selection process—and why you should consider adding them to yours, as well.
- Take a peek behind the curtain.
First impressions are important, but they only reveal surface-level information. It’s always great to learn basic information about venues to help narrow down the search for the right one, and websites are a great way to obtain an initial sense of an event venue. (In fact, it is another important step in our process, as it’s the best way to eliminate incompatible options based on key requirements, such as capacity.) Most venue websites typically show a few images that put their best features on display. The better ones might even showcase the versatility of their space through photos of different types of events they have previously hosted. But in our 13+ years of event planning, we have learned that venue websites never reveal what might be hiding behind the curtain. The ugly truth can be anything from stains in the carpet and chipped paint, to dents in the wall and leak marks on the ceiling. If you’re lucky, you might find online reviews that shed some light in these areas, but the only way to have full confidence in your venue is through a site inspection.For example, imagine you are planning an event at a high-end beachfront property in the Caribbean. The resort looks great online, including many 5-star reviews. One may be tempted to skip the site inspection. However, what isn’t advertised online is the very loud and dusty construction site right next door, which is leaving the pool sprinkled with sawdust and waking guests to the sound of jackhammering very early in the morning. If a site inspection hadn’t been conducted, 100 guests would have missed out on the 5-star experience they were promised.
- Test drive the guest experience.
A site inspection not only shows us what might be under the surface; it also gives us the opportunity to test drive the guest experience early in the planning process. A lot of insights can be gained from walking through the flow of an event from a guest’s perspective. Here are some key details we might evaluate during site inspections—and how they can impact your event.
- Parking and transportation – Parking capacity is a huge factor of any event planning process. Are there enough spaces available for the size of the group? Are the necessary parking spaces generally available at the time of day the event will take place? How long will it take guests to walk from the parking lot to the venue? If guests can’t find parking spots near the venue, it affects their perception of you and the event you’re hosting. Additionally, some events hosting larger groups may require buses or shuttles for transportation; is there room for larger forms of transportation to park, load guests, and drop guests off? Ease of transportation keeps things running smoothly.
- Cleanliness and upkeep of facility – This is where we pull out our magnifying glass and white gloves (kidding… sort of) to check floor to ceiling for any eyesores. Are the windows clean? Have the light fixtures been dusted? If they aren’t when we visit (when they’ve had time to prepare and are trying to earn our business), there is a good chance they won’t be during our event.
- Restrooms – This is an important detail that you definitely don’t want to forget to look into. Are the restrooms located nearby? Are there an appropriate number of stalls for the size of the group? Are they clean? Is there staff on site to assist in regular cleaning throughout the event? Are the paper supplies well stocked? Restrooms are a necessity, and making sure that your guests can locate them with ease will make for a much better experience for all.
- Lighting – Proper lighting is crucial for a work session, but it is also a great tool for creating the right ambiance. We like to know what we are working with in advance so that we can supplement as needed. Are the lights on a dimmer system, or do they have only one setting? Is there ample lighting around the entire venue? If you’re hosting workshops, bright lighting is crucial, while more ambient lighting will be important to establishing the right ambiance at dinners.
- Noise levels – Are you planning on playing music? Test the acoustics. Are you planning a work session that requires focus? Check the noise pollution. We want to be respectful of our guests, and others.
- WiFi speed and cellular signal – How fast does the internet load on your phone and computer? Are you able to make calls and send texts and emails from your phone with ease? Executives in a work session are always grateful when we ensure both are performing optimally. Also, from an event planner perspective, you want to make sure that you can effectively communicate with your event team during the event via phone (or other means, all of which probably require a strong WiFi signal) to ensure a seamless event execution. Additionally, if your event team plans to communicate with guests via apps, emails, or phone, WiFi and cell signal will be imperative to delivering on the five-star experience.
- Comfort of chairs – What material are the seats made of, and are they comfortable? Whether it’s for a quick group breakfast or a day-long training workshop, nobody wants to sit on an uncomfortable chair (plus, discomfort can be distracting). This is a good example of an often-overlooked detail that guests will appreciate you took the time to research.
- Food – How does the food taste? Is there a wide array of food options? How quick is service? While the quality of the food is, of course, important, so is the pace of service. If you have a certain amount of time for a lunch break, will everyone be able to get their meal and eat it in the given time? Bonus: this is a great chance to discuss the kitchen’s ability to cater to different dietary needs.
- Develop trust in your venue manager and the staff before the event.
Emails and conference calls are great, but nothing solidifies trust between an event planner and venue manager faster than an in-person meeting. Sitting down to discuss our expectations and their capabilities assures we are both on the same page, helping us develop trust in them and, ultimately, their staff. Site inspections facilitate these face-to-face meetings early on, which makes for a much smoother pre-event planning process. For the venue manager, this gives them plenty of time to prepare their staff for the unique needs of our event, setting them up for greater success.
Looking for help selecting the perfect venue for your next event? Kinetic’s event team is experienced with a variety of meetings and events, and we have a reputation for creating unique and rewarding experiences that will raise the bar for future events.