Unless you are completely familiar with a venue already and know the sales and management team in place, it's important to fully review a site in person before signing any agreements. I usually bring a checklist with me to make sure that I don't overlook any important details.
And to help keep myself organized, I also keep my basic contact information about that venue on the same document so I can refer back to it in case I need to call any of the key contacts for any reason.
Your checklist should include items about the hotel amenities, facilities, A/V, food and beverage, and budget.
Ask about amenities. When meeting with a venue sales manager, it's important to make sure that the property allows you to incorporate some on-site promotion for your event. The sales manager should explain limitations or avialability of the follwoing:
- Ability to display banners/signage/directional signs.
- Any restrictions to displaying event information.
- Availability of concierge/information desks.
- On-site business center and office services (request list & prices).
- Shipping and receiving services requirements.
- House phones in meeting rooms.
View the facilities. The venue should be updated and its facilities manager should anticipate any situation. Consider the following:
- Condition of the grounds and parking.
- Condition of carpet, paint, and decor.
- Condition and appropriately sized draperies/skirting.
- Adequate room size and capacity to hold event.
- Flexibility to adjust room layout/tables.
- No visual obstructions within room.
- Indoor lighting (flexibility to adjust/dim sections).
- Ability to control natural light.
- Limited noise distractions in hallways/behind walls.
- Event room away from kitchen.
- Nearby restroom access.
- Nearby medical access.
Inquire about audio/visual & equipment. Nearly every event incorporates one or more elements of A/V. Confirm the avqilability of each of the following:
- High speed Internet access (wired/wireless).
- Microphones: lavaliere system and standing (# needed).
- LCD projectors and hand-held remotes.
- Appropriate screen sizes and draping options.
- Flat screen monitors, TV screens for video needs.
- Easels, white boards and supplies.
- Outlets (# and locations throughout room).
Explore all catering options. I can't stress enough the importance of selecting the right food and beverage for an event. Your venue sales manager will have great suggestions, but event planners should make sure they know the full range of choices. I suggest confirming the following:
- Full service on-site kitchen operation.
- Detailed menu & serving options.
- Meet the executive chef if possible.
- Taste test the the menu you're considering.
Document your budget. Compile all expense items, including the following:
- Meeting facility costs.
- Catering costs.
- A/V & equipment rental costs.
- Office services costs.
- Guarantee policy.
- Complimentary services.
- Payment options.