With so many new venues coming online across the country, we are often spoilt for choice when it comes to booking somewhere for the next staff conference or event.
However despite the increase in options, venues are booking up well in advance these days, especially at peak times of the year. Even if, like our team, you have worked with hundreds of venues across the country, I always recommend scheduling a site inspection prior to committing to a new or unfamiliar venue to ensure there are no surprises onsite. Looking at a website is useful (especially during the research phase), yet it will only get you so far. The venue’s photographs will be selective, as a result it’s up to you to leave no stone unturned.
A site inspection may cost you an airfare or some time out of the office. If you can stretch the budget to fit it in, I promise you it’s worth it. Not only will you be able to determine if the venue is the right fit, it can help you avoid unexpected costs later down the track. Also, meeting the venue’s event team onsite at the very beginning of a project helps build a solid relationship and opens communications – remember you will be working closely together over the coming months to bring your event to life.
What Should I Bring?
You’ll need a brief detailing your event requirements to make sure you and the venue representative are on the same page. A tape measure and camera are another must have! You can share photographs with your client, colleagues or suppliers (if required). There are some great apps you can use to take 360 degree views of rooms – these can be great to refer to when you are back at your desk looking at floorplans.
Don’t Forget to Prepare – Have a Checklist Ready.
You’ll also need a checklist to track and compare the quality of each venue. A good checklist will focus your search by not only listing the venue brief, but clearly noting the overall event objectives clearly at the top. As with all aspects of good event planning, the venue should support the achievement of the event goals in some way, whether it be via alignment with brand or business values or through its layout, access to offsite activities or its location.
Your checklist only needs to be a simple one page document ensuring you review all the important elements to consider when choosing a venue. For example, does the room have any obstructions, windows or views? Does it have built in audio-visual equipment? Where would you set up registration? In addition you may need to consider, access times, catering capabilities, storage areas and sound-proofing between rooms.
Using a checklist will prompt you to ask the right questions to ensure there are no problematic revelations when you’re onsite.
Remember, a methodical, in person review of a venue will enable you to identify the advantages and limitations of its location, service and rooms. It is also often beneficial in the final negotiation stages to have a face to face meeting with the venue contact.
If you need some help to get started, you are welcome to download our free venue research and site inspection checklist vianectarcc.com.au/siteinspectionchecklist/. I should point out that this is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start that works for our team. You may want a separate checklist for accommodation rooms, outdoor spaces and even locations if you are considering more than one location across Australia or internationally. Feel free to contact us if you need further information.
Don’t put it off any longer, conduct some research, create a shortlist and schedule some site inspections sooner rather than later to make sure you secure the best possible venue for you next event!
Author: Peta Moore
Conference Program Director, PCO Association