It's FRIDAY! FRIDAY! How's your week been? Mine was a bit nutty because I am in the airport flying back from a one day trip to San Francisco (if you didn't know, I live in Montana and it is NOT easy to get to either coast from here).
I almost did a classic "turn and burn" which means you fly into a location in the morning, hold your site visit or meeting, and then fly out the same night. I actually flew out early the next morning, but based on how loopy I was at the airport and how hard I slept on the plane (mouth open, lots of drool. It wasn't cute.) my body was not happy with me.
BUT I did want to share with you how to prepare for a site visit or a venue tour for a potential event that you want to host. Here are the ways that I prepare before I get on-site AND how I like to structure the meeting so it goes easily and efficiently.
Get a floorplan
And, if available, it's so helpful to have a floorplan COMBINED with a recommended seating chart. Often, when I meet with a site coordinator, I like to show her visually what I want for my event and usually she'll have suggestions about how they can accommodate that OR recommendations about how to make it better. Regardless, it's great to have a visual aid prior to the site visit so that you can mentally get an idea of how your event will flow.
Have a basic content agenda for your event or workshop
It's extremely difficult to do a site visit if you don't have any idea what your event or workshop looks like, because you can't ask the correct questions and thus, can't evaluate whether or not it's a good investment for you. Have a basic idea of what you'll be teaching, HOW you'll be teaching it (whether using a white board or a Powerpoint presentation or individual workbooks, etc.) and it will be a lot easier to ask tailored questions based on your event set up.
For instance, if you know you want to do a calligraphy workshop and people definitely will need to write, you'll need to ask how many people can fit in the room banquet style or cafe style (and if you don't know what that is, go here). But if you're just doing a lecture and people won't need a hard surface to write on, you can set up theater style and put a LOT more people in the room.
Write a big list of questions
My favorite are:
•How many people can be seated in this room?
•Do you have audio visual capabilities? If so, what kind?
•What's your internet speed (if people will be online doing presentations)?
•Where are the bathrooms?
•What sort of table set up to you recommend for this room?
•Where do you recommend doing a check-in table?
•Are there any restrictions for people on crutches or in wheelchairs?
•Do you have signage available or easels available for me to bring my own signage?
You'll have your own, and of course, don't forget to ask about costing and cost upgrades, food and beverage exclusivity (some hotels and restaurants don't allow food from other sources to come in for events, and you have to use their catering services, which can often be more expensive).
Plan time for a post-walkthrough meeting after you see the space
That gives me a chance to sit down (usually with my clients AND the event staff at the location) and get any logistical questions out of the way, talk about pricing, and negotiate. It's hard to get some of the smaller details taken care of when you're busy taking in things like the carpet color or how much window lighting is available or audio visual requirements for each room, which is why I always plan a 15-20 minute sit down after the site visit to focus on any lingering questions that I wrote down on my list above or any questions that I've thought of while on-site.
Have you ever done a site visit at a venue? What was your experience? Do you think it was helpful?