Selecting a venue: Ask the right questions, make the right choice

Selecting a venue for an eventBy Stephanie Rapko

When it comes to real estate it is all about location, location, location. The same could be said when selecting a venue for an event. Not only do you need to ensure you have chosen the perfect location for the event, you also need to make sure all the finer details are considered to be confident the event will be successful.

When selecting a venue, the type of event being held should be considered. You don’t want to be holding a golf retreat in the heart of a bustling city! Is the event a small executive face-to-face? A summit with over 3,000 delegates? A two-day trade show with an education program? Whatever you are planning, make sure the venue you have contacted for a site inspection is appropriate for the event’s requirements. If you have been contacted for attend a FAM trip or invited to tour a property, do not accept the invitation without doing your homework.

Whether a seasoned planner or just starting out in the industry, you already know the standard questions that should be on your site checklist:

  • What is the room capacity and square footage?
  • How many sleeping rooms are there?
  • What is the distance from the nearest airport, train station, bus terminal?
  • What are the accessibility options?
  • What are the emergency procedures?

With the advent of technology and the need to be connected 24/7, you will also want to make sure to inquire about internet access or Wi-Fi availability and what the cost will be. Today, most properties have either hardwired internet access in every room or Wi-Fi. However, not every property offers Wi-Fi as complimentary, so be sure to ask and never assume.

Use a “selecting a venue” checklist

By simply doing a Google search, any planner can find myriad websites, articles and checklists for what you should and should not do, look for and ask about when checking out a new facility for your event. When I was still rather green in the meetings and events industry, I came upon an interesting checklist on, written and produced by Write Style Communications Ltd. The Site Inspection Handbook might be 10 years old, but it is still relevant today as the basics will always remain the same. The checklist in this handbook delves into the minute details (such as the type of room key and whether or not every room has a smoke alarm and sprinkler) along with broader questions such as how many meeting rooms there are and how many restaurants are on site.

What caught my attention, though, were the tips to make sure you have a successful site inspection. For example, did you ever think to show up to a FAM trip unannounced the day before just to see how attentive and friendly the staff were? Might be something worthwhile, especially if you are having a conference in which delegates would be travelling from all over the world. What if they do arrive a day early? How will they be treated? How will the staff react?

Another interesting tip was to wander into the meeting space without a guide. Does security stop you? Does anyone take notice of you wandering around, poking in and out of meeting rooms? This will give you a great indication of the type and level of security you can expect at your own event.

When working through the details of selecting a venue and location for your upcoming event, make sure that you pay close attention to even the smallest of details. It is known that even the smallest oversight could turn your event from the “wow” experience you had planned to the worst experience ever. The location is key, but what you get with that location is the lock. Create your own checklist or grab one from the multitudes available online, and use it.

About the author

Stephanie Rapko is the Show Operations Manager for MediaEdge Communications Inc. She can be reached via email at [email protected]

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