The best way to work out whether a venue is suitable for an event is to go and see it.

They say that the camera never lies, but I think that a massive pitful of the event industry is that venue websites and brochures have a tendency to use misleading images, only highlighting the best parts and purposely missing things like the skip in the middle of the courtyard, the graffiti outside of the conference centre or the dirty old carpet that needed replacing ages ago. And a photo of four water glasses on a tray and a pen shows the potential customer nothing about your conference rooms and facilities.

Over the last six months I visited all the venues (points) on the map, so I’ve put together a list of 30(ish) questions/things to look out for when doing a site visit for an event you’re planning. This should help anyone going on a site visit, especially if it’s your first time. Just remember to take plenty of photos to help jog your memory later on!

Before the visit:
01. Write down your venue contact’s details – full name, department, direct line, email address

02. Check availability for the potential event dates

Venue Location:
03. Find out if the venue is easily accessible for attendees:
• tube station (and is it within walking distance?)
• train station (and is it within walking distance?)
• major roads
• airport (how long will the journey take and how much will this cost?)

04. Ask about access for suppliers:
• What floor(s) are the function/conference rooms on (stairs, lift or both? If there is a lift, are the rooms close to it? Are the corridors and doors large enough for the equipment?)
• Is there a loading bay that suppliers can use to unload and load kit? (check for any height or weight restrictions?)
• Does the venue provide parking for the suppliers’ vehicles, if not, where should they park?

05. Find out if there is congested areas near by and what time this mainly happens

06. If there is little/no accommodation at the venue, ask about hotels in the area?

Venue Appearance:
07. What is the style of the building?

08. Look for unique features (inside and outside of the venue) which can be incorporated into a event theme

09. By the end of the visit evaluate the overall condition, standard and cleanliness of the property and think about how it compares with other venues you’ve seen?

Indoor Facilities:
10. Note down any suitable rooms in the venue for the types of events you organise
(write down individual room names, capacities and any other details that will help remind you of each room, such as the shape, whether it was bright and airy, fresh smelling, painted blue)

11. Check the height of the ceilings and width of the doors if you are planning to transport and set up any large activities or equipment

12. Find out the maximum capacity of the largest room for future events that you are planning to organise (theatre and cabaret style)

13. Think about the Rooms’ layout – are there any pillars or rooms in unusual shapes that could hinder any events or activities that you organise?

14. Ask about the facilities available at the venue (whether they’re available to hire or included in the venue hire):
• AV equipment
• dance floor
• decorations from past events
• staging
• tables and chairs
• ability to blackout the rooms
• business centre (what facilities does the BC offer?)
• complimentary extras provided

Indoor events and activities:
15. Does the venue allow the following…
• external caterers to bring ingredients on the premises and cook onsite
• noisy events and activities (are there any noise restrictions?)
• organisers to bring their own alcohol onsite (if so, do you need to pay corkage and how much would this cost?)

16. Amount of bedrooms available?

17. Types of bedrooms available? (single/twin/double/deluxe)

18. What is the look and feel of the bedrooms?

19. Note down room amenities if necessary

20. Type of dishes served in the restaurant?

21. Will the kitchen design and create bespoke menu requests?

22. Is there a room for private dining?

23. Find out the restaurant’s maximum capacity

24. Work out the kitchen’s location in comparison to the function/conference rooms

Leisure facilities:
25. If any, what leisure facilities are available for guests to use?

• Indoor Pool
• Outdoor pool
• Gym
• Spa
• Health club
• Golf course
• Tennis courts
• Treatment rooms

Outdoor areas and events:
26. Does the venue have any outdoor spaces that can be used for events?
• Grounds
• Terrace
• Garden
• Courtyard
• Golf course
• Tennis court

27. Does the venue allow the following…
• Inflatables
• Noisy events and activities (are there any noise restrictions)
• Animals on site
• motorised activities (i.e. quad bikes)

28. Is there a water point outside for events, if required.

29. Do the have a marquee available for events?

30. Find out average rates for the venue and what these rates include…
• day delegate rate (DDR)
• 24 hour rate
• room hire charge
• grounds hire charge
• commission rates (if applicable)
• any special offers
• minimum spends
(whether these prices include or exclude VAT)

Additional Info:
31. Find out peak times or any particular days of the week when the venue is not available for events

32. Does the venue have a list of preferred suppliers (i.e. catering, AV, entertainment agency)

33. Ask about future developments or renovations

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