10 Must-Ask Questions to Conquer a Site Visit
You wouldn’t buy a home without a home inspection. And neither would a good corporate event planner book a venue without a site visit. But – just like a home inspection goes deeper than evaluating the home’s mere aesthetic appeal – a site visit is about so much more than simply looking at the space. It’s about asking the right questions to make sure you choose the space that fits with your event best. Here, leaning on 360DG’s corporate event management pros from across our 19 national offices, we culled this collection of must-ask site-visit questions that dig into the nitty-gritty details…and help determine whether a venue will make or break your upcoming program.
Does the site have a preferred or exclusive vendor list?
If the site answers yes to this question, it can be either good or bad. If you are new to the area and aren’t working with a DMC, having a prepared list of vetted vendors can make your job significantly easier. On the flip side, the limitations of that site mean you might not be able to use vendors that you have used before. As an added bonus, if they do have preferred vendors, find out if you have direct contact with them or if all communication goes through the site. Not having direct contact can slow down decisions.
Are there any time restrictions?
Most venues have limits on amplified sound after a certain time of the night. For example, some venues might allow it until midnight while others end at 10 p.m. If you plan on having a deejay or band perform for a late-night event, knowing this up front is crucial. There are also event spaces, like museums and observatories, that only allow alcohol to be served for a certain amount of time. If the venue only allows the bar to serve for three hours, you’ll have to either plan around that or consider a different venue.
What else is going on during my event?
There are all kind of factors that can affect your event from a concurrent event held at the venue to major road construction to citywide festivals. Each of these will need to be planned around, whether its finding alternate routes, putting up draping to hide construction work, or hanging extra signage to ensure your guests make it to the correct event.
What emergency preparedness plans are in place?
Your staff needs to know where on-site they can find a first aid kit and AED and should be on the same page with the venue staff about how to handle everything from a power outage to a fire alarm to a medical emergency to assure that everything runs smoothly in the face of something unexpected.
What are the site’s security guidelines?
You’ll want to know the credentials of the on-site security – whether they’re in-house staff, off-duty cops, a third party hired for the event – and what specifically are they responsible for. That information will allow you to make decisions about extra security to make sure unwanted guests don’t wander into your event, which is something in-house security is often not responsible for.
What is the accessibility of the venue?
For starters, you will need to know if the venue is ADA compliant, especially if it is an open event where you don’t know who is coming. You’ll also need to know about parking and whether there will be space for pick up and drop off. Both you and your guests are going to need this information to plan how they will get to the event. You’ll also want to know if there is a loading zone nearby. How many freight elevators does the site have, and how big are they? The answers to these questions are key for figuring out how long it will take to load in decor and furniture.
What is the staff-to-event ratio?
This question is good for both site visits and DMCs. When talking with a DMC, make sure their operations managers are working on one program at a time – otherwise you might not be getting the support you need, especially when it comes to emergencies. When dealing with venues, knowing how many servers, bussers, bartenders, and barbacks will be working your event ahead of time is crucial. You’ll need this information to be able to time meals and to estimate the level of service you can expect. Try to figure out what you will need and get it included in your contract with the venue.
How many power sources are there? Where are they located and what is their output?
This is such an easy question to overlook but it’s pretty important. For general sessions and conferences, people are going to need to plug in their phones, laptops, and tablets so you are going to need either a lot of power sources or one that has enough output to handle multiple devices. Thinking about power is even more important when you are planning an outdoor event. You can lose a substantial amount of the budget to generators and extra power charges, so it’s crucial to know immediately if the site can handle your electricity needs.
How many bathrooms are available?
This is another easily overlooked question that can make or break an event. If the event space has limited bathrooms, you’ll want to accommodate with extra time between sessions so everyone has a chance to go. If you know you will have significant disparity between male and female guests, you might need to requisition a bathroom for whichever gender needs it more. You’ll also want to know if there are any family and gender-inclusive bathrooms or dedicated nursing rooms on-site, especially if you’re hosting an open event.
How does the site prefer to communicate?
You’ll be working closely with the site leading up to and during your event, so you want communication to be as simple and efficient as possible. That can be as easy as asking if they prefer information sent over in an Excel sheet rather than a Word document or texting instead of calling during certain hours of the day. Simply asking how the site operates most efficiently is key, so you can make sure you’re in tune with each other.