It might feel like a large expense in terms of both time and money to carry out an international site visit. You could be tempted to skip it, especially when you can look at floor plans and a few photos online!
Overseas events are generally a bigger investment for any organisation both financially and from a time perspective. So it's just as important to ensure that a site inspection is invested in. Running events abroad can sound fun and glamorous but they can come with unknowns and more hurdles to navigate. There is nothing like seeing meeting space, meeting partners and walking grounds to bring your event vision to life and look at the creative opportunities!
There is no substitute for meeting the venue staff face to face. These are the people that will be instrumental in ensuring your event is a success. Building a rapport with the event team is doubly important when one of you isn’t operating in their first language – whether at the venue or the local DMC as they have the knowledge on the local area. On some occasions language barriers can mean that phone conversations are not clear and misunderstandings can happen. Spending an hour or two with the team will allow you to build rapport, create a relationship and set expectations and understand all possibilities. Venues recognize the commitment to them by having a site inspection.
As with any site visit, make sure you walk the path the delegates will be taking at the event to try out the flow and timings. Take lots of photos and videos. This will really help with remembering how the event will come to life on the day and share with the wider team back at base. If the venue has another event on when you are there, take photos of their coffee break set up, lunch set up or where their registration desk is, but only if permission is granted.
The logistics of getting your delegates to an overseas event can be more complicated, but you can plan ahead. Use your international site visit to work out the best options and this will also support with your contingency planning too.
Remember small steps make a big difference!
It is always a good idea to celebrate the culture of the country you are holding the event in sensitively. A site visit gives you the opportunity to explore and consider the appropriateness of them alongside the culture of your delegates.
If timings allow, stay a night in the hotel. This is the best way to see how comfortable the pillows are, what the breakfast buffet is like or how sound proof the rooms are. While you are there make sure you see the leisure facilities, as these are all important for the delegate experience and also takes into account wellbeing. If you are looking at a number of venues, stay the night in the preferred hotel and visit the others. Allow time for meetings with each venue team to discuss the event. This way you can get a real feel for how each venue can support in different ways. Remember to arrange a final meeting with the preferred option for the all important negotiations.
Lastly, but certainly not least, get a feel for the area the venue is in. Does it feel appropriate and safe? Are there building works next door? What are your first impressions?
ZiaBia have recently travelled to Cape Town, Warsaw and Malta for international site visits and have gained a plethora of invaluable information on each one. But across the years site inspections have taken place from Barcelona to New Orleans and many places in between! All of this information is meticulously recorded on detailed reports and kept for reference as you never know when you might want to go back.
If you would like advice and support before your next international site visit and event, do please get in touch.